Archive for the 'General' Category

Update on Kern NWR for the 2020/2021 Season

The California Waterfowl Association just published an update for Kern National Wildlife Refuge for the upcoming 2020/2021 Waterfowl Season.  According to the CWA, the water allocation for Kern was cut this year by 5,000 acre-feet to only 17,000 acre-feet.  CWA says this is 8,000 acre-feet less than Kern’s full allocation.  CWA says this will give Kern the ability to flood about 3,500 to 4,000 acres of the refuge when fully flooded in December.

CWA advised that Kern is estimating they will be able to handle 35 – 45 hunters for opening day.  Kern anticipates no changes to their hunt program from last season.

The California DFW (who runs the hunting program at Kern) is working on check station operations for COVID restrictions.  DFW will release these procedures on their website when they are approved.

You can read CWA’s report on Kern NWR here…

https://www.calwaterfowl.org/2020-21-waterfowl-season-update-kern-nwr/

 

US Fish and Wildlife Cancels Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey

For the first time in 65 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service have canceled their annual joint Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey.  The cancelation is due to concern over the current Coronavirus restrictions.

The survey, conducted annually in May, has been used since 1955 to estimate breeding populations and make management decisions for waterfowl.  The USFWS, along with the Flyway Councils, will use long-term data from spring/summer monitoring for these species to make decisions on regulations and harvest management decisions.

This will have no effect on the 2020/2021 season regulations.  These regulations were based on habitat conditions and population estimates from the 2019 breeding season.

To set regulations for the 2021/2022 season the USFWS will utilize the long-term data and models to predict the 2020 spring populations and habitat conditions instead of the survey data.

The USFWS expects that the 2021/2022 regulations will be, in general, similar to the 2020/2021 season based on the long-term averages, however, in some cases changes may be appropriate and the USFWS will work with the Flyway Councils to identify populations of special concern.

I would expect this to translate into pretty much identical regulations for the 2021/2020 season as we already have set for the 2020/2021 season, with some possible exceptions if some “special concerns” come up.

For further details you can check Ducks Unlimited’s article on the cancelation of the Survey at the link below:

https://www.ducks.org/conservation/waterfowl-breeding-habitat-surveys/federal-and-state-agencies-cancel-waterfowl-breeding-and-habitat-survey

So, no Breeding Population and Habitat Survey to peruse this summer for our preview of the upcoming season.  Hopefully, without the USFWS checking on them, the birds will do their spring thing and produce a bumper crop of ducklings that will be ready for us by the time the season rolls around.

 

California Fish and Game Commission Sets 2020/21 Season Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission, during their April 16th meeting, adopted changes to the waterfowl season dates and regulations for the 2020/21 waterfowl season.

Regulations adopted for the Southern California Zone (which will cover San Jacinto Wildlife Area):

Seasons: Ducks and Geese: October 24, 2020 through January 31, 2021.

Special Youth Hunt Days: February 6 and February 7, 2021. (San Jacinto’s Annual Youth Hunt will be February 6th, 2021).

Limits: Ducks: Daily bag limit: 7. Which may consist of 7 Mallards, of which only 2 can be female; 1 Pintail; 2 Canvasback; 2 Redheads; 2 Scaup.  (Scaup may only be taken November 7th, 2020 through January 31st, 2021 – so be careful the first two weeks of the season this year).

Geese: Daily bag limit: 23 of which 20 may be White Geese and 3 may be Dark Geese.

Possession Limit Ducks and Geese: Triple the daily bag limit.

Black Brant (Although a “sea goose” I’ll add this because occasionally a few seem to show up at San Jacinto): November 19, 2020 – December 15, 2020.  Daily bag limit: 2 per day.  Possession limit triple the daily bag limit.

“Electronic” Spinning wing decoys (AKA – mojos) will be allowed from December 1st until the season ends (statewide) – non-motorized /wind-powered mojos are allowed all season. (NOTE – As far as I could find this was not mentioned in the season regulation changes at the Commission meeting so I’m listing the dates based on last season’s regulations (assuming no changes). This has been December 1st for as long as I can remember but check with the official regulations once they are posted on the DFW web site or the printed regulation books when they come out, probably in a couple of months but still well before the season).

Last season one of the regulations that most affect San Jacinto hunters were, of course, the extended end date for the season which gave us one more hunt day.  This season January 31st happens to be the last Sunday in January.  The federal framework allowed for the season to end on the last day in January and it just so happens that January 31st is the last Sunday in January, which is the traditional end of the season, so no extended season this time.  Another change this season is that the Scaup limit was dropped to 2 birds (it was 3 last season).  Also, the Brant seasons will be reduced from 37 days to 27 days.  Not a real big concern for SJ hunters but there’s a very slim chance one will show up at SJ so it would behoove you to know what they look like.  Other than that, most other regulations stayed pretty consistent with last season’s regulations.

So, there it is.  The regulations are set, and as of this writing, Tom and the entire SJWA Crew are working hard to get San Jacinto Wildlife Area in excellent shape for the upcoming 2020/2021 waterfowl season.  Hopefully, our present “quarantine or lockdown or restrictions” (whatever you want to call it) will end soon and the hard working staff at SJ can get a couple of cleanup days scheduled to assist in getting things ready for the season.  When (if?) any of these clean up/work days get scheduled try to pitch in and help if you’re able – Info will be posted here on SoCalHunt when I receive it.  AND Mystic Lake is still there and still nearly full with the addition of some water from the last series of storms.  This should be a big help to enhance the hunt results at good old SJ!

This above information is provided as a general guide only. Although they haven’t updated it to the newly adopted regulations yet when they do, probably in a month or two (still well before the season) please check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website at:

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations

…or printed regulation book (available probably not long after they update their web info at most license agent locations) for official information and/or for regulations in other waterfowl zones in the state.

Now, all we need is to get some weather up north at the right time this year, hopefully early in the season, to drive the birds down to us and we can all look forward to another fantastic season at San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

The Beginning of The Addiction – The First Time

Since we’re pretty much all under “house arrest” to one extent or another I figured I’d take a ride in the way-back machine and relive my first waterfowl hunt, the beginning of the addiction.

The exact date is lost in the fog of time, but it was somewhere around December 1975.  I’d been hunting a couple of years by then, but I’d only hunted upland game.  My one and only shotgun at the time was a 20-gauge Ithaca 37.  My dad wasn’t a hunter, nor was he a fisherman but, to his credit, he never tried to block me from developing a love for both these outdoor sports.

At my work at the time one of my coworkers, who was sort of a mentor to me, was also interested in hunting but had even less experience then I did.  As we talked while we worked and at lunch breaks, we’d many times pour over the Western Outdoor News, which I think was either a quarter or thirty-five cents back then, and we would read the reports of the waterfowl harvests at the Wister Wildlife Area.  There were often pictures in WON of the hunters and their straps sometimes showing limits of pintail, which had a seven-bird limit back then, along with limits of Snow Geese, which I believe was three back then.

Well, we were impressed.

We talked it up and decided, “Hey, we could do that!”  So, a plan was formed.  One Friday afternoon we would drive down to Wister and bag us both a limit of ducks and geese.

Of course, some preparation was necessary.  Neither of us had any waterfowl equipment.  My buddy had some fishing waders and he already owned a 12-gauge but all I had was my little Ithaca, no waders, no camo, no proper ammo, no decoys.

I was a duck hunter extraordinaire already…right?

I hit the sporting goods store at Puente Hills Mall.  Yes, they had a sporting goods store there at the time, and they even carried guns, ammo, and hunting gear.  In fact, some may not believe this, but a few years later I bought my deer rifle, a Remington 700 7mm Mag, at the JC Penney’s Store at Puente Hills Mall.  Can you imagine what would happen nowadays if you walked out of a major mall with a boxed rifle under your arm?  Nobody gave that a second look back then.  But, let’s get back to the subject of this story.

Anyway, as luck would have it, they were having a sale on decoys, so I picked up a dozen pintail decoys.

I also picked up a couple of boxes of 12-gauge #4 lead shot.  Yup, that was long before the lead ban.  Also, I picked up a pair of cheap vinyl stocking foot waders. I had a pair of high-top sneakers at home to cover the stocking feet.  Last was the state and federal duck stamp to add to the hunting license I already had for upland hunting.

Of course, by this time I was about out of money and I still needed a shotgun because the little 20-gauge I had wasn’t going to cut it for geese.  Even though back then, you could walk out of the sporting goods store with a gun in five minutes, unfortunately, you still had to pay for it.

Here’s where another friend came to the rescue, or actually his father came to the rescue.  His dad owned an old Winchester model 1897 shotgun.  For those unfamiliar with the Winchester 1897, it was the second pump-action shotgun designed by John M. Browning in, of course, 1897.  They were produced until 1957 so I’m sure this one wasn’t 78 years old, but I’ll bet it was a good 40 years old at the time.  After explaining my situation with the upcoming hunt, the old 1897 was kindly loaned to me.

So, after borrowing from my fishing gear to rig the decoy anchors we were fully armed and ready for our trip.

My hunting buddy picked me up on the assigned late afternoon in his Dodge two-wheel-drive pickup (this will be important later in the story) and we headed down to Wister.  After an approximate four and a half-hour drive, we pulled in off of highway 111 and into the check station parking lot.

We got our names in the lottery for the sweatline draw and waited with great anticipation to see when our ping-pong ball would drop out of the bingo ball cage.  As I recall we were drawn not too far from the top and so headed for the truck to attempt to get a little shut-eye before the wind-up alarm clock went off at 0300 for us to get back to the check station and pick our spot.

As we slept..sort of…the constant tick, tick, tick of the wind-up alarm clock seemed to get louder as the appointed alarm time approached.  Added to the excitement of the first duck hunt I don’t think either of us got more than a half-hour sleep total.

When the alarm finally rang, we jumped out of the truck and headed up to the check station to pick our spot.

Since we had no idea what we were doing, when it was our turn to pick our hunting spot it was kind of an eeny-meeny-miny-moe situation.  So, after picking our hot-spot and paying for our day passes, which you bought at the check station in those days, we grabbed a map of Wister from the check station counter and were off to our big waterfowl adventure.

The wind was blowing hard, maybe 30 mph or so and the sky held broken clouds.  There had been no rain, and it wasn’t threatening any, just those big puffy clouds blowing across the sky, hiding and revealing the moon and the star as they wind hurried them along.

We got down to the crossroad that would lead to our hunting spot and turned left off of Davis road.  As we drove down this road, we saw a sign indicating that our parking spot was coming up soon and, near as we could tell, we had to transition over to the adjacent dike to enter the parking area a couple hundred yards down the dike.  Just after we started down the dike, we noticed a puddle of water on it that was probably five feet across covering the top of the dike.  It appeared that the adjacent pond had just overflowed onto it.  Being Wister newbies we didn’t give the puddle a second thought and charged right through it in my buddy’s two-wheel-drive Dodge pickup.

Of course, if you’ve ever been to Wister, you probably know what happened.  Yup…we sunk her right down to the axle in the middle of the puddle.

We didn’t have a shovel, not that it would have done much, and, apparently, we were the last ones headed out to that particular hunting area as no one else came up behind us that might have helped.

After about an hour of pushing from either end of the truck and attempting to use one of the hubcaps as a makeshift shovel, we concluded that we’d have to walk back to the check station to get some help.  All the other hunters were already in their hunting areas and setting up so it was a long walk with no prospect of a ride.  Now, remember this was well before cell phones so the only way we were going to get help was the payphone on the side of the Wister Check Station.  As we walked towards the check station, we could hear whistling wings above us and make out ducks flying back and forth above us in the gathering light.  When start time rolled around about a hundred shotguns opened up all over the wildlife area and we could even see an occasional duck falling out of the sky as the hunters connected with their prey.

We finally got to the check station and called the Auto Club for a tow.  I guess they don’t do this any more down at Wister or maybe it was because we were just in a puddle and the area was generally dry, but we managed to get the auto club to come out and pull us out of the puddle.

Once we were free, we jumped back into my friend’s truck and managed to get to our parking spot without further incident.  We were generally covered with mud and the truck was too, inside and out.  When we finally got our limited gear out to our hunting spot it was about 8:30 am.  We’d missed the best shooting of the day, however, the wind was picking up even more and the Snow Geese were beginning to fly.

We quickly threw our dozen decoys out and basically just hunkered down on the dike near the hunting spot stake and waited for whatever might come along.  We didn’t have to wait long.

Several times flights of magnificent Snow Geese flew right over us fighting the strong wind, just seeming to hang there in the sky not 30 yards above us.  We fired and fired yet nothing fell.  Occasionally we could even hear shot drumming off the wing feathers of the geese, yet they didn’t come down.  Either the #4 shot didn’t have enough oomph or the wind was blowing our shot strings way off course.

Finally, on one of my shots, a “golden bb” broke the wing of one of the Snow Geese and it nosedived into our pond with a huge splash.  I quickly set the shotgun down and “ran” (as much as you can run in Wister mud) to claim my prize.  I thought it was dead as it hung limply as I carried it back across the pond, but it was apparently only stunned by the hard splashdown.  As I approached the dike it woke up and began to beat me with its wings and scratch at me with its claws.  The only thing I could think to do was to stumble the last few steps to the dike and bash its head on the barrel of the old Winchester.  That ended the fight.

So, finally, I had my first waterfowl and my first goose.  It wasn’t long after that my buddy was able to also scratch down a goose except his was actually dead on splashdown and didn’t fight him when he brought it back.

After a few more unsuccessful shots on the geese by both of us, things started to slow down and I thought I’d take a short walk down the dike just to stretch my legs.  I got about 75 yards down the dike and just as I was about to turn around and walk back to our hunting spot a drake pintail jumped out of the brush near my feet.  It didn’t fly very well and, looking back, I believe now that it was probably a cripple that escaped in the morning shoot, but I was able to connect on it and also harvest my first duck.

We hunted a little while longer, but the ducks were no longer flying, the wind had slowed down, and the geese that were still flying were now flying well out of range.  We finally called it a day at about 1 pm.

So, that’s it.  That’s how it started.  I’ve been chasing them for 45 years now and hopefully will be doing it a while longer.

San Jacinto’s 26th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event a Great Success, February 8th, 2020

As always, I want to say that there were so many great sponsors, volunteers, and so many that supported the Junior Hunt event with prizes, assistance, and food they deserve another big thanks from all of us.

The San Jacinto Wildlife Area Junior Hunt is an outstanding event to cap off a great season of hunting for our Junior Hunters.  The Junior Hunters had some good waterfowl hunting and, as always at the SJ Junior Hunt Event, they also came away with some fantastic prizes at the lunch and giveaway at mid-day.

As is the tradition at SJ, the Juniors and their adult mentors were treated to a great breakfast of pancakes and sausage with coffee and hot chocolate.

After a great breakfast, the Juniors and their escorting adults headed out to the Wildlife Area to set up and wait for the starting horn blast.  The hunting was fairly good this year and many waterfowl were harvested by the Junior Hunters.

(In case you missed it you can read the hunt results here…  https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2020/02/08/hunt-results-for-san-jacinto-wildlife-areas-26th-annual-junior-hunt-saturday-2-8-20/ )

When lunch rolled around everyone assembled at the Check Station workshop for lunch and the prize giveaway. Lunch was fantastic with the Juniors and their adults dining on BBQed hamburgers and hotdogs donated by Angelo’s Burgers and Quail Forever and pulled pork prepared and donated by John Ross from Dee’z Boy’z BBQ in San Jacinto.  Tom Trakes’ daughter provided and decorated a fantastic cake for the event.

This year’s Junior Hunt was dedicated to the memory of Easton Parker, also known as “Beaston”, one of the SJ Junior Hunters that sadly passed away this past year from a brain tumor.

After lunch the event everyone was excitedly waiting for, the prize giveaway was conducted.  There was so much support for this year’s Junior Hunt that all the Junior Hunters received at least two raffle prizes each!  The prizes ranged from gun cases, decoys, fishing rods, and a plethora of other assorted hunting and outdoor gear.  Needless to say, all the junior hunters went away happy.  There were several “Grand Prizes” at the event.  5 firearms given away and a German Shorthair puppy, donated by Chaz Prato was also one of the grand prizes.

Tom wanted me to give a special thanks to Quail Unlimited for sponsoring the shotgun raffle earlier this past year for the two shotguns at Bass Pro Shop.  Through their generosity, quite a bit of money was earned which allowed many prizes to be purchased for the event, along with two of the shotguns given away to the Juniors Hunters.  Tom also wanted to thank Bass Pro Shop for assisting with a place for the earlier shotgun raffle by QU and for giving the SJ crew a great discount on the prizes they bought for the event which made the money spent go much further.

After the raffle, many of the Junior Hunters went back to their blinds to finish out their day, and their waterfowl season, hunting.

The Junior Hunt was an outstanding event, as it usually is.  As I’ve said every year and will repeat again as I fervently believe it, the Juniors are the future of our sport, so it is vital to keep them interested and involved in waterfowl hunting.  San Jacinto’s Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt definitely goes a long way towards that goal every year.

Tom told me he’d like to thank, as well as I would myself, everyone who donated prizes, food, labor or anything else towards this event.  We all should also thank the San Jacinto crew for, as usual, going the extra mile to help make this event happen. We all appreciate all your hard work.

So, another Junior Waterfowl Hunt is in the books.  Check out the pictures below of the 73 Juniors Hunters that participated this year and the beautifully decorated cake Tom’s daughter worked so hard on.  This was a great event to celebrate the 26th annual waterfowl hunt at San Jacinto Wildlife Area and a great way to usher in what will hopefully be a lifetime of waterfowl hunting for the future of our sport, the Junior Hunters.

Also, off the subject of the Junior Hunt, but since I have your attention, Tom told me that he expects to have a cleanup day scheduled some time in March to start the process of cleaning up the Wildlife Area in preparation for next season and he also wanted me to remind everyone that the annual Hunter’s Education Class, which is required for new hunters to obtain their license, would likely be conducted in May.  Watch here on SoCalHunt for the dates for those events when they are set.

Here’s just a few photos of the Junior Hunt event.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Bryant Park Preschool Annual Toy Drive a Big Success!

The San Jacinto Wildlife Area Staff is putting out A BIG THANKS to all the hunters who, once again, came through BIG TIME to donate toys for the Annual Bryant Park Head Start Preschool Toy Drive.   The San Jacinto hunters came through overwhelmingly and provided the toys needed to make this event a big success for the kids.

Just before Christmas, the preschool’s kids were presented with toys from Santa. It was a wonderful time for the kids and the adults in attendance and some great food and desserts were brought in by the parents too!

Once again, the Staff at San Jacinto Wildlife Area (and I as well) would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the San Jacinto hunters for their very generous toy donations to make this all possible.  SJ hunters, as they always do, have proved they have a heart and really care.

Thanks once more for all the generous toy donations!

Here are a few pictures from the event to tell the story:

Report on Wister Conditions – Access via Highway 111

If you’re going to go to Wister for the upcoming waterfowl season opener next Saturday (10/19/19) here some information regarding conditions at  Wister and the road conditions that might affect your ability to get there.  As you most likely have heard there have been some road closures and construction off and on in the area of the Wister entrance and check station due to a “mud volcano” which popped up a while back across the highway from the check station.

Scott Sewell, Senior Fish and Wildlife Habitat Supervisor with the Department of Fish and Wildlife reported the following conditions for the Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area:

North End
514 All ponded
513 Ponded trying to get water to Disable Site
413 Still Ponding, 413W2 dry, 413W3 half ponded, 413W4 dry
312 312B2,4 ponded, the rest still dry but filling.
312C 2,4 just getting water, 312C 5 just getting water.
115 B1 just getting water, B3 East is ponded B5 ponded.
114 All ponded

South End
Y15 Last 2 ponds near Davis Rd Dry.
W11 Last 2 ponds near Davis Rd Dry.
U14 2,4 ponded, 5 is filling, 1 is dry.
U12 2,4 filling, 5 ponded, 3,1 filling
U10 Ponded
T10 All Dry due to no pipeline.
T12 Ponded
T14 1,3 Dry, 5 low water in swell, 2,4 Ponded
S20 1,3 Ponded

Scott advised that Wister staff is currently flooding as much as possible and the above information is as of this past Monday.

In addition, for those concerned about access to Wister due to the “mud volcano” that appeared a while back in an area across Highway 111 from the check station, CalTrans is reporting as of Saturday, October 12th, 2019 at 02:13 PM:

“Highway 111 – 1-WAY CONTROLLED TRAFFIC AT VARIOUS LOCATIONS FROM 0.6 MI NORTH OF MUNDO TO 2.3 MI SOUTH OF WISTER /AT NILAND CREEK BRIDGE/ (IMPERIAL CO) FROM 1600 HRS ON 10/11/19 TO 2200 HRS ON 10/12/19 – DUE TO CONSTRUCTION – MOTORISTS ARE ADVISED TO USE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE”

There is no indication on the CalTrans web site if there will be any closures or restrictions past 10 pm (2200) tonight (Saturday 10/12/19).  So, right now it sounds like you can get to Wister, although there may be some minor delays.  Hopefully, it will be completely opened by next Friday night/Saturday morning.

If you want to keep on top of the current conditions for Highway 111 you can check on the CalTrans Road Conditions web site at:

https://roads.dot.ca.gov

Just enter “111” in the box for the highway number or you can call and get recorded info at 1-800-427-7623.

If SoCalHunt learns of any further reports on any changes to either conditions at Wister and/or road conditions on Highway 111 which may have an impact on hunters’ ability to get there, we will post a new report.

UPDATE!: As of 6:28 PM on 10/14/19 CalTrans reported the following –

SR 111

[IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA]
NO TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS ARE REPORTED FOR THIS AREA.

San Jacinto’s September 21st Volunteer Blind Brush Up / Work Day -Things are Looking Good at SJ

Saturday, September 21st, was the final volunteer blind brush-up work day at San Jacinto Wildlife Area prior to the opening of the 2019/2020 season. About 20 volunteers showed up at the SJ check station parking lot at 0600 ready to get at it. Tom briefed the volunteers and they headed out to various locations around SJ to finish rebuilding and to brush-up several of the blinds.

 

The San Jacinto Staff has obtained some hay bales and these are being utilized to provide seating in some of the area’s blinds. Work was finished up on some of the blinds and F-1, F-2, Walker 12 & X blinds were finished being brushed-up. 

 

While out on the wildlife area the group took some time to check out Mystic Lake, which still has plenty of water and is currently holding a couple of thousand ducks! Thinks are looking good for the coming season!

 

One of the blinds, ready for brushing. Hay bale seats in place already.

 

Brushing up a blind.

 

Walking out to check out Mystic Lake.

 

Ducks EVERYWHERE! WOW!

 

After the hard work in the morning, some of the volunteers who didn’t have other obligations to get to and the SJ staff headed over to Marcello’s Pizza in Nuevo for a well-deserved lunch. 

 

Finishing up the PIZZA!

 

Once again, Tom and San Jacinto Crew would like to shout out a big “thank you!” to everyone that came out and worked hard to finish getting the blinds ready for the upcoming duck season, and I echo that sentiment. 

 

The SJ Staff is flooding up the area big time and the food that has been planted for the birds over the last few months has got a lot of duck and other birds using the SJ waterfowl area. Mystic Lake still has plenty of water and should help hold birds in the area throughout the season. Tom and his crew will continue to tweak things, finish up a few blinds that still may need a little attention, and in general, make sure things are ship-shape for the October 19th opener.

 

Get your license, passes and get your reservation request in soon and hopefully, we’ll see you out there at SJ for what appears to be shaping up to be a great season. 

San Jacinto’s August 24th Volunteer Blind Clean Up / Work Day a Great Success

Saturday, August 24th, was the second volunteer clean-up/blind brush-up day for San Jacinto Wildlife Area.  About 35 volunteers arrived bright and early at the SJ check station parking lot eager to get to work.  After a short briefing, Tom sent the volunteers out to various locations in the Wildlife Area to brush-up and even in some cases completely rebuild several of the hunting area’s blinds.

Several people had answered the call in that last few weeks to drop off palm fronds at the San Jacinto parking lot and all of them were utilized in building and brushing-up the blinds today.  Tom says more palm fronds are needed for the next volunteer work day and for maintenance of the blinds as the season progresses so if you can get a hold of any palm fronds any time before the work day you can drop them off at San Jacinto. Just call Tom at 951-236-3040 and he’ll make arrangements for someone to be there so you can drop them off.  Some hay bales were obtained also, and these were utilized to provide seating in some of the area’s blinds.  Extensive work and rebuilding was done on D-2, Walker 5, 10 & 12 and E-4 blinds as well as general brushing-up of many of the other blinds in the area.

Some of the volunteer crew

Hay bales for the blinds

Working on D-2

SJ’s backhoe in action!

After working hard all morning some of the volunteers who didn’t have to head off to other obligations and the SJ Staff headed over to Marcello’s Pizza in Nuevo for a well-earned lunch.

PIZZA…yum!

Once again, Tom and his team at San Jacinto (as well as myself) would like to give a big thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to get the blinds ready for the fast approaching waterfowl season.

One more blind brush-up/work day is to be scheduled to finish getting things in good order for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next work day is scheduled for Saturday, September 21st.  I’ll make a separate post with all the details for the September 21st work day when I get all the info and the flyer from the SJ Staff, but mark it on your calendar now so you can keep that date opened.  The September 21st work day will concentrate on working on and brushing up more of the blinds, so palm fronds are needed (check above for details on bringing in palm fronds to use for the SJ blinds).  Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks, unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed.  Watch SoCalHunt for the “official” announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/work day.

So, things are coming together at San Jacinto.  Mystic Lake is back big time, which should help things immensely this season.  There are also plans to possibly put some blinds on the Mystic lake shoreline, increasing your opportunity to draw a blind.  Most of the duck hunting area has been cleaned up and the SJ Staff, best in the state in my humble opinion, is continuing to plant food for the birds and has started flooding the ponds.  It should be a banner season at SJ this year.  Hope to see you out there some time.

 

 

 

 

US Fish and Wildlife Reports Nationwide Duck Numbers Down slightly for the 2019/2020 Waterfowl Season

Since 1955, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service have reported the results of their joint breeding population and habitat survey.  Total duck numbers for this year were down slightly compared to last year’s count and, in fact, most species dropped to some degree with the exception of Mallards, Gadwall and Green Wing Teal which all went up slightly and Widgeon, which stayed the same as last year.  With the exception of Pintail and Scaup all species where actually up from their long-term averages, with Redheads actually right at their long-term average. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at: https://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/pdf/surveys-and-data/Population-status/Waterfowl/WaterfowlPopulationStatusReport19.pdf

reported:

“In the traditional survey area, the total duck population estimate, (excluding scoters, eiders, long-tailed ducks, mergansers, and wood ducks) was 38.9 million birds. This estimate was 6% lower than the 2018 estimate of 41.2 million and 10% higher than the long-term average (1955–2018).  The total pond estimate was 5.0 million, which was similar to the 2018 estimate of 5.2 million and the long-term average of 5.2 million. In general, habitat conditions during the 2019 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS) were similar to or declined relative to 2018, with a few exceptions.  Much of the Canadian prairies experienced below-average precipitation from fall 2018 through spring 2019. The U.S. prairies experienced average to above-average precipitation over most of the region. Habitat conditions were generally drier near the North Dakota border with Canada.”

The report revealed that Mallards were up to approximately 9.4 million, which was a slight increase from the 2018 estimate of 9.3 million, yet still 19% above the long-term average.  Blue Wing Teal numbers are approximately 5.4 million, which is 16% below the 2018 estimate of 6.5 million but 6% above the long-term average. Green-winged teal are down to 3.2 million, which is up 4% from the 2018 estimate of 3.0 million which make them 47% above their long-term average. The estimate for American Wigeon is 2.8 million which is level with the 2018 estimate of 2.8 million and 8% above the long-term average. Estimated numbers of gadwall are 3.3 million which is up 13% from the 2018 estimate of 2.9 million bringing Gads up to a whopping 43% above their long-term average. Scaup (both greater and lesser) were at 3.6 million, which is a 10% decrease from the 2018 estimate of 4.0 million making them 28% below the long-term average. Northern Shoveler (an SJ favorite) are estimated at 3.7 million which is 13% down from the 2018 estimate of 4.2 million but still a sizeable 39% above the long-term average. Redheads are at 0.7 million which is 27% below the 2018 estimate of 1.0 million and right at the long-term average. Canvasbacks came in with 0.6 million which was down 5% from the 2018 estimate of 0.7 million but still 10% above the long-term average. Pintails were estimated at 2.3 million, which was down 4% below the 2018 estimate of 2.4 million and, sadly, 42% below the long-term average.  (Note – all numbers rounded off).

So, it looks like, unfortunately, this coming season will present hunters with a slightly fewer birds but still, despite this, we might have the potential to get a crack at good numbers since most waterfowl, with the exception of Scaup and Pintail, are still above their long-term averages.

As always what will be more important to waterfowl hunters in the Southern California area over small fluctuations in nationwide duck numbers is the weather.  What Southern California duck hunters really need is some weather up north to spur the available birds into migrating into our area.  Another thing we Southern California duck hunters have to consider is that the California DFW’s own state breeding population survey shows duck numbers in our state are actually down 14% over last year’s state numbers.  (You can check out DFW’s report on the California Waterfowl Breeding Survey here:  https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/06/28/cdfw-completes-2019-waterfowl-breeding-population-survey/ )

As of this report it’s 61 days until the season opens here in Southern California.  It’s a great time to start getting all your duck hunting gear ship shape and maybe go shoot a few rounds of trap or skeet to tune up. Despite the lower duck numbers in both the USFW survey and the DFW breeding survey the bigger factor for us down in this part of the state is to get the birds moving our way.  Hopefully we’ll get the weather and the birds will migrate early, and we’ll have another great season at San Jacinto!

 

San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Clean Up / Work Day Well Attended, Saturday, July 13th – Boy Scout Eagle Project Also Accomplished

On Saturday, July 13th, about 25 volunteers showed up at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area check station parking lot bright and early at 0700.  In addition to the volunteers some of the Boy Scouts from Troop 337 were in attendance to work on Riley Garrett’s Eagle Scout Project, which was to repair and upgrade the kiosks next to the check station parking lot.  Tom sent the volunteers out across the Wildlife Area to clean-up several of the hunting area’s blinds.  In addition to the general clean-up and trash and shell pick up some of blinds required trimming of natural growth that was overgrown and cleaning out tumble weeds and other plants that had taken over the inside of a few of the blinds. Due to this past winter’s heavy rains there was an unusual amount of vegetation this year.

Heading out to the blinds

Getting ready to work on Marsh A

Mystic Lake lookin’ good!

Working on the kiosks.

After working hard all morning the volunteer crew, Scouts and the SJ staff retired to the awning at the check station parking lot for a great lunch of Carne Asada, rice and beans along with soft drinks provided by the Boy Scouts.

A well-deserved lunch…yum!

Once again, Tom and his team at San Jacinto would like to give a big thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to start the process of getting things ready for the upcoming waterfowl.  Also, a big thanks to Riley Garrett and the other Scouts for their hard work upgrading the kiosks along with a big thanks to Shane Tucker and Carlos Gutierrez for lending their expertise and assistance on the hot roofs of the kiosks.   And finally, a big thanks to the Scouts again, from everybody, for providing a great lunch.

There will be at least two more blind brush-up/work days to finish getting things in ship shape for the coming waterfowl hunting season. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, August 24th and the one after that in late September (date to be announced).  I’ll make a separate post with all the details for the August 24th workday when I get all the info and the flyer from the SJ Staff, but for now, go ahead and mark it on your calendar.  The August 24th workday will concentrate on working on and brushing up the blinds, so palm fronds are needed.  If you can get a hold of any palm fronds any time before the work day you can drop them off at San Jacinto. Just call Tom at 951-236-3040 and he’ll make arrangements for someone to be there so you can drop them off.  Please make sure you don’t bring in the type of palm fronds with the thorns on their stalks, unless you’re willing to strip off the thorns first. Those things wreak havoc with waders if the thorns aren’t removed.  Watch SoCalHunt for the “official” announcement and details of the next blind brush-up/workday.

2018/2019 Season Waterfowl Take Review For California From the California Waterfowl Association

The California Waterfowl Association (CWA) has published a California Season Review in their Summer 2019 magazine issue.  Some interesting numbers were revealed by the review.

The CWA published numbers for all refuges and wildlife areas in the state with comparisons to years past and to other refuges and wildlife areas.  I’ll just concentrate on the three areas that SoCalHunt regularly reports on, San Jacinto, Wister and Kern along with some general numbers of interest to us from throughout the state.

Starting with San Jacinto Wildlife Area CWA reported that the number of Cinnamon Teal bagged at SJ was #2 for the state with 967 birds.  Wister did really well in the state numbers race with Wister showing up #1 for Cinnamon Teal with 1,357 birds, #2 for Green Wing Teal with 2,287 birds and #2 for Pintail (despite a 2 bird limit this season past) with 1,893 sprig taken.  Kern didn’t make the top three for any bird species for the state.

For the Southern California Area, which includes the three areas SoCalHunt reports on, some of what CWA calls “notables” were Pintail were up 40%, Green Wing Teal were up 34% and Shovelers were up an incredible 100%!  CWA also noted that only Southern California had an increased harvest and an increase in average harvest per hunter for the 2018/2019 season.

As for geese statewide it was a dismal year.  White geese were down 70% with 2,650 harvested statewide, Specks were down 48% with 2,762 bagged statewide, and Canadas were down 38% with only 649 taken statewide.  This was a big hit in our part of the state for Wister as they usually do pretty good on the snows at Wister most years.

CWA also provided a graph of the last five seasons reflecting the weekly take of waterfowl for all wildlife areas and refuges in the state.  Not surprisingly it shows a spike the first week of the season then a nosedive the next week that gradually improves, for the most part (with slight exceptions here and there) as the season progresses, until it gets close to the take for opening week on the last week of the season.

The CWA also show a graph for the last five seasons showing the percentages for the top seven species throughout the state.  On that chart the take for the state for this past season was the second lowest of the five years, with the 2016/2017 season showing lower total numbers (by only 985 birds total) then this past season.  Both those seasons (16/17 & 18/19) had substantially lower numbers then the other three years on the graph.

So, the takeaway from all this is that Southern California did somewhat better this past season than the rest of the state, especially with the good old spoonies, which had a 100% increase.  Although, statewide, this past season was slower than others in the last five years.

If you’d like to see the entire report on the 2018/2019 season stats from CWA you have to get a copy of their Summer 2019 magazine.  As far as I can find this information is not online.  You can get a copy of the CWA magazine by joining the California Waterfowl Association by clicking on the link below.  It’s $35 for an annual membership and $15 for a Junior Member (12 and under) and includes four quarterly issues of the CWA magazine.  Money well spent IMHO.

https://www.calwaterfowl.org/

 

2018/2019 Season Sunrise / Sunset Recap (ah…sort of)

Since the 2010/2011 season, SoCalHunt has posted an article with pictures of the sunrises and sunset experienced throughout the season.  This season due to a series of different incidents and circumstances I only got out one time, the Wednesday after the season opener.  I’ll not bore you with the details of why, it wasn’t all bad, I got a new grandson out of it, but it wasn’t all good either.  I’m posting this basically so anybody that follows the SoCalHunt blog won’t wonder why I didn’t post as I usually do.  I’m sure you already noticed the lack of Hunting Reports during the season just past.

Well, ‘nuff said about that.

As traditional for SoCalHunt at the end of every season, here are the (no) sunrises and (1) sunset for the 2018/2019 season just past, along with the daily (no) clouds we observed during each day.

Presented for your enjoyment:

(Click on the image for a full-sized picture)

10/24/18 Sunset. (BTW – those birds aren’t ducks, just a flock of blackbirds).

Yup…that’s it.  Sorry.  Hopefully, SoCalHunt will have a bunch of pictures to post next season, along with some hunt reports to go with them during the season.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Annual Toy Drive for Bryant Park Preschool a Big Success!

Once again, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area Staff is putting out A BIG THANKS to all the hunters who were able to donate toys to the Annual Bryant Park Head Start Preschool Toy Drive.   As always, the SJ hunters came through Big time and provided the toys needed to make this event a success for the kids.

60 of the preschool’s kids were presented two toys each by Santa plus there was even enough toys to give one to the preschoolers’ siblings too.  It was a wonderful time for the kids and the adults in attendance and some great food and desserts were brought in by the parents too!

Once again, the San Jacinto Staff (and me too) would like to extend a big thanks to the San Jacinto hunters for all their very generous toy donations to make this all possible.  SJ hunters, as they always do, have proved they have a heart and really care.

Thanks once more for all the generous toy donations!

Here’s a few pictures from the event to tell the story:

Notes on Kern National Wildlife Refuge and the Shutdown

Just before the current Government Shutdown went into effect SoCalHunt reached out to the Kern National Wildlife Refuge regarding the effect the shutdown would have on their hunting program due to Kern NWR being a Federal Refuge.  On 12/20/18 at 9:49 am SoCalHunt was advised by a Kern Staff Member, via Facebook messaging, that…“the government shutdown will not affect the hunting program. The hunting program is run by the State, so hunting will still be allowed.”

Not surprisingly SoCalHunt hasn’t received any hunt result information from Kern since the shutdown.  Although I don’t have any definite information on this, I surmise that the hunt results are compiled by the Federal Employees of Kern NWR, as they come in a different form from those that SoCalHunt receives from San Jacinto and Wister.

This morning (12/26/18) the following was posted on the Kern NWR Facebook page…“Due to the federal government shutdown, this account will not be active until further notice. More information at www.doi.gov/shutdown.”

The link for more info above doesn’t really clarify the situation regarding the hunting program at Kern (but you can look it over if you want).  Although, if the information SoCalHunt received on the 20th is accurate, which I have no reason to doubt, the hunting program should not be affected.

In an effort to ensure SoCalHunt is putting out accurate information we reached out to a California DFW Senior Official and was told “Last I heard on a managers coordination call Kern is supposed to still operate its hunt program but nothing else. No phone calls no nothing except staff working the hunter check station. That was the last I heard heading into the shutdown.”  He also went on to say, “I’m suggesting to those that call me is to go and not lose a reservation opportunity. So far nobody has called me back saying it was closed on Saturday.”

So, the best information SoCalHunt has is that Kern NWR is still going to be hunting but we’re not going to get any hunt result reports from them until after the Government Shutdown.  Obviously, we can only report on what we are told so just be aware of this when relying on this information to decide on making the drive to Kern.

This is the latest info SoCalHunt has on the Kern NWR during the Government Shutdown.  If SoCalHunt gets any further or different info you can be assured it will be posted here ASAP.  We always strive to put out accurate information to our fellow hunters, which is why we went to the trouble of contacting a Senior DFW Official to attempt to confirm it.

Of course, whenever Kern NWR starts to release their hunting results reports we will catch up on those reports as the info comes in.  Thanks for your patience on this.

 

Saturday, September 22nd – San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Brush Up / Work Day a Great Success

SoCalHunt was on hand again on Saturday, September 22nd, as around 35 volunteers got the job done at San Jacinto’s second volunteer blind brush-up work day for the fast approaching duck season.  This is the first time in a while that SoCalHunt has been able to make both the pre-season workdays.

As the sun crested over the surrounding mountains a large group of volunteers gathered at the check station parking lot to get their assignments and head out to spruce up Wildlife Area’s blinds.  Due to the great turnout at the August workday, a lot of the brush-up work had already been done, although there were still a few blinds that needed attention and some of the ones worked on last time needed a little tweaking.  Also, as before, some general cleanup was done around and inside some of the blinds.  There were still a couple of blinds that needed some trimming of natural growth and cleaning out tumbleweeds and other plants that had taken over the inside of those blinds.

Tom giving the volunteers their assignments as the sun break over the mountains.

Brushing up more blinds with palm fronds

Always beautiful scenery at SJ!

A group shot of most of the volunteers (a few had to leave early). Thanks to all who helped out!

Most of the ponds are well on the way to being fully flooded and more water is pouring in daily.  Waterfowl continue to arrive at SJ every day and things are looking great for the soon to be duck season.

After the volunteers’, and the San Jacinto crew’s hard efforts for the morning we all gathered at Marcello’s Pizza in Nuevo for another great lunch.

Some of the volunteers enjoying some great Pizza for lunch!

Tom and the staff at San Jacinto (and me too) would like to give another big thank you to all the volunteers that showed up and put in all the effort to get things done to get ready for the 2018/19 waterfowl season.

The next thing on the schedule is opening day, Saturday, October 20th!  Only 27 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes away as I type this.  May the ressie computer be kind to you this season and hopefully, we’ll see you out at San Jacinto for the upcoming waterfowl season.

 

Great Turnout for San Jacinto’s Volunteer Blind Brush Up / Work Day, Saturday, August 18th

On Saturday, August 18th, SoCalHunt was on hand with about 30 other volunteers ready to get-r-done at San Jacinto’s first volunteer blind brush-up / work day for the upcoming season.

The volunteers met at the check station parking lot bright and early at 0700 and Tom sent everyone out across the Wildlife Area to brush-up several of the hunting area’s blinds.  In addition, some general clean up was done around and inside some of the blinds, some of which included trimming natural growth that was overgrown and cleaning out tumbleweeds and other plants that had taken over the inside of a few of the blinds.

Tom giving us our assignments

Heading out to the blinds with some palm fronds

Brushing a blind (before)

A brushed-up blind (after)

The SJ staff is starting to flood some of the ponds and there were a lot of ducks already utilizing the wildlife area.  Things are looking good for the upcoming season.

Some of the Wildlife Area’s ducks

After working hard all morning the volunteer crew and SJ staff retired Marcello’s Pizza in Nuevo for a great lunch.

Some of the crew at lunch!

Once again, Tom and his team at San Jacinto would like to give a big thank you to everyone that came out and worked hard to get things in ship shape for the upcoming waterfowl season.

There will be at least one more blind brush-up / work day to finish getting things in ship shape for the quickly approaching 2018/19 waterfowl hunting season. This one is scheduled for Saturday, September 22nd and volunteers are to meet at the check station parking lot at 7:00 am.  Mark it on your calendar!  Hope to see at least as many volunteers for this next work day as we had on this one.  It’ll make things go quick and easy as more volunteers means less work for each volunteer.

(Info on the next Blind Brush-up day here:  https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/volunteer-clean-up-brush-up-work-days-set-for-san-jacinto-wildlife-area-august-18th-and-september-22nd/ )

 

 

 

 

California Department of Fish and Wildlife 2018 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey Shows Duck Numbers Up!

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released the results of their 2018 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey and, for the first time in 6 years, the total population of waterfowl in California is now over half a million.  That’s a 39% increase over last year!

I’ll just give you a couple highlights since there’s really no reason to plagiarize DFW’s entire report:

(from the DFW report on the survey)…“The 2018 breeding population of mallards increased from 198,392 in 2017 to 272,859 (an increase of 38 percent). Mallards are the most abundant waterfowl species in the state, followed by gadwall (102,637) and cinnamon teal (78,498).

Other ducks that increased in number include northern shovelers, wood ducks, redhead and canvasback. Overall, the total number of ducks increased from 396,529 to 549,180 (an increase of 39 percent).”

If you want to read DFW’s entire report on the survey you can access at the following link…

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Science-Institute/News/2018-waterfowl-breeding-population-survey-shows-continuing-upward-trend

If you’d like to read the entire Breeding Population Survey Report you can access that at the link below…

https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=146708&inline

So, good news for the coming season.  Hopefully, we’ll get some weather early in the season to drive the birds down to our end of the state and this will bode well for a great season at San Jacinto.

Don’t forget the upcoming Volunteer Work Days at San Jacinto on Saturday, August 18th and Saturday, September 22nd.  With the increased bird populations, it’ll be more important than ever to get the Wildlife Area and the blinds ready for the upcoming season.  You can get details on these upcoming workdays in SoCalHunt’s report at the link below…

https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/volunteer-clean-up-brush-up-work-days-set-for-san-jacinto-wildlife-area-august-18th-and-september-22nd/

Hope to see you out there!

Annual Hunter’s Education Class at San Jacinto’s Wildlife Area Well Attended / Light Turnout for the Volunteer Clean-Up Day, But the Job Got Done

Saturday, April 7th San Jacinto Wildlife Area held their Annual Hunter’s Education Class.  Tom Trakes, of San Jacinto Wildlife Area, reported that there were 52 new hunters in attendance to study for and take their Hunter’s Education test.  Their well-earned Hunter’s Education Certificate makes the students eligible to be fully licensed hunters in the State of California.  The class was a mix of youth and adults and they will all be joining us as part of our hunting community.

Valley Wide provided the tables and chairs for the event and the students were provided with a nice lunch of chicken, sandwiches, and chips at the noon break.

The class working hard

Lunch Time!

The Volunteer Clean-Up Day was also held at San Jacinto today and the turnout was pretty light for this event.  Less than 10 volunteers showed up to assist the San Jacinto staff in getting the refuge’s blinds cleaned up from the recently ended waterfowl season. Volunteers met at the check station at 7 am then scattered throughout the wildlife area, plastic bags in hand, to clean up all the spent shell, wads and other miscellaneous trash they could manage to find in and around the blinds.  Besides the usual spent shells and wads there were other things found like flashlights, batteries, a decoy keel with line and weight attached, half a wading pole, and even an old car wheel just to name a few.

 

SoCalHunt was in attendance for the Clean-up day and pitched in with my trusty shell stick to clean up around at least 8 of the area’s blinds today.  It was nice to see that most blinds I hit were in pretty clean condition so the clean-up wasn’t as labor intensive as it has been some other years.  This was a good thing as it allowed the small group of Volunteers to pretty much get the job done despite the light turnout.

 

As always at SJ there were other rewards.  There were a lot of ducks using the wildlife area.  I saw more waterfowl in the first 5 minutes I was there then I saw all last season.

 

And, of course, it isn’t all about ducks at San Jacinto, especially in the offseason, as there were a great variety of other birds utilizing the refuge too.  And, as always, the scenery was outstanding!

There was even a small bonus today as March Air Force Base was having an air show, so we got to see a few of the aircraft flying around the area for that, including a B-2 Stealth Bomber (Sorry didn’t have the camera ready when that one flew by).  I was able to snap a shot of a pair of FA-18 flying over though.

The next volunteer work day will likely be scheduled for some time in June and will be a Blind Brush-up day, to start preparing the blinds for the next waterfowl season in October.  When the date is set SoCalHunt will have it posted here so you can mark the date on your calendar.

 

San Jacinto’s 24th Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event a Huge Success, February 3rd, 2018

(Don’t forget to check the photos at the bottom of this page – Click on the picture for a full-sized image)

Before we dive into this report I want to say that there were so many great sponsors and so many that supported the Junior Hunt event with prizes, assistance, and food that if I miss someone please forgive me and know that it wasn’t intentional.

With that out of the way…

SoCalHunt wasn’t able to attend this year’s San Jacinto Wildlife Area’s Junior Waterfowl Hunt Event.  It was an outstanding event and the Junior Hunters in attendance not only had some pretty good waterfowl hunting, beating the per gun average of the adults for most of the season, they also made out with some great prizes at the lunch raffle at mid-day.

Everyone was treated to a nice breakfast of pancakes and sausage with coffee and hot chocolate available also.  A big thanks goes out to Quail Forever who sponsored the breakfast.

Once all the Juniors and their accompanying adults ate their fill they headed out to the Wildlife Area to set up and wait for the starting horn to sound.  The hunting was pretty good this year and some of the Juniors even scored limits this time.  One Junior even downed two Canada Geese!

(In case you missed it you can read the hunt results here…  https://socalhunt.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/hunt-results-for-san-jacinto-wildlife-areas-24th-annual-junior-hunt-saturday-2-3-18/ )

When lunchtime rolled around everyone gathered back at the Check Station workshop for lunch and the raffle.    Lunch was a veritable feast consisting of Pizza (donated by George’s Pizza in Hemet), some amazing tri-tip (donated and cooked up by Paulo Linhardt and Paulo Veronese of Pipe Dream Plumbing), pork-butt sandwiches with special BBQ sauce (provided by D-Boys BBQ), sub sandwiches (provided by the San Jacinto Walmart), and some wonderful cakes provided and decorated by Tom Trakes’ wife and daughter, Cindy and Bonnie. Wow, I’m stuffed just reading this.

This year’s Junior Hunt was dedicated to the memory of Brian Fraser, one of the SJ regulars, that was tragically killed at the Las Vegas mass shooting on October 1st.  The program started off with Junior Hunters Lucas and Trina Rizzotto playing an amazing rendition of the National Anthem on saxophone and trombone.  Pastor Jessie gave the invocation.    After that, the event everyone was waiting for, the raffle was conducted.  There was so much support for this year’s Junior Hunt that all the Junior Hunters received four raffle prizes each!  The prizes ranged from gun cases, decoys, fishing rods, blind bags and other assorted hunting and outdoor gear.  Needless to say, all the junior hunters went away happy.  There were several “Grand Prizes” a pair of shotguns, a rifle (donated by Kyle Tibbits of Turners Outdoors), a layout blind, decoys, a one-year membership to WRSP (Wren’s Ranch Sportsmen’s Park – donated by Matt Johnson) and a plethora of other prizes.  I’m sure all the Juniors went away happy this year.

Jim Matthews of the Outdoor News Service had a special booth set up at the event showing the Juniors how to make their own quail calls and another booth where Dale from Cabaw Decoys made a spinning wing wind decoy for each of the Junior Hunters.  In addition, the California Waterfowl Association gave each Junior Hunter a free membership.

After the raffle, most of the Junior Hunters went back to their blinds to finish out the day hunting.  This year’s there was a special raffle to encourage the Juniors to go back out and finish up the day hunting.  Chaz Prato of Ludas Prato German Shorthair Pointers donated several prizes including a shotgun, layout blind, and decoys, to mentions just a few, and each junior earned points for the birds they brought in.  The prizes were awarded for the points earned.  A big thanks to Chaz for these donations and running this special raffle!

The Junior Hunt was an even more outstanding event than usual this year. As I’ve always said the Juniors are the future of our sport so it is vital to keep them interested and involved in waterfowl hunting.  San Jacinto’s Annual Junior Waterfowl Hunt definitely fills that bill every year.

Tom told me he’d like to thank, as well as I would myself, everyone who donated prizes, food, labor or anything else towards this event.  We all should also thank the San Jacinto crew, Josh, John, Carlos, Aurelio, Ryan, Scott and Lizzy for going the extra mile to help make this event happen we all appreciate all your hard work.  Also, thanks go to our local Game Wardens Rick, April, Dustin, and Walter for helping hand out the prizes at the Junior Hunt event.

Tom also asked me to extend a special thanks to Bob Minor from Bass Pro Shops.  Tom told me that this event might not even happen without Bob’s help and support.  Bass Pro made several donations, assisted with the shotgun raffle prior to the event to raise money for prizes, donated the shotguns for the Junior Hunt raffle (with co-sponsorship on the shotguns by Quail Forever) and sent Bass Pro Shop Pro Staffer Mike Bouman to assist at the event.

Tom also wanted me to give a special thanks to Valleywide Recreation for the tables, chairs, heaters, and griddles to cook the breakfast on.

Tom also wanted me to thank all the Hunters that came out to help cook the breakfast and assist with the event.

Once more, a big thanks to all the sponsors, Evan’s Gun World, Ramona Duck Club, SoCalHunt.com (of course), John Liechty, Mark Bower, Ghulana Yazdan, Wren’s Ranch, Ron Patrick, Taylor Macy, Jim Matthews Signature Calls, John Segoria, Edward Cortez, Gilbert Hernandez, Blue Collar Firearms, 411 Printing, H&H Construction, David Salem Photography, Valleywide Recreation, and Pipedream Plumbing.  (Hope I got them all!)

So, another Junior Waterfowl Hunt is in the books.  Check out the pictures below, which is only a small example of this great event.  Of course, due to space, I couldn’t post every picture but hopefully these will give you a really good idea of how this wonderful event for our Junior Hunters went down.


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