Northern shovelers finally arrive
BY JIM NIEMIEC
RIVERSIDE – Flocks of colorful northern shovelers arrived this past week and they were a welcome addition for refuge hunters. Comp counts on spoonbills were over 100 birds harvested, along with good numbers of gadwall, pintails and widgeon. Hopefully, future winter storms will push even more ducks down into this part of the Pacific flyway.
There was also a huge influx of green winged teal that showed up ahead of last week’s storms and it brought lots of birds. Ken Smith of Bakersfield, who hunts a private club in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, called into Western Outdoor News and reported, “Lots of new birds arrived this week and our club limited out in just 20 minutes.”
Wister Wildlife Refuge – Green winged teal and pintails offered up pretty good duck gunning on both Wednesday and Saturday shoot days, along with some snow goose hunting. It was a mix of ducks that were posted on the comp counts topped by 59 GWT and 50 shovelers on Saturday. Sunday was very slow with only 46 ducks killed. This popular club shoots Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. For more details on hunting Wister Unit, call the DFW on-site office at (760) 359-0577.
Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge – Goose and duck hunting was slow all week for this refuge with only a total of 8 snow geese shot by 12 hunters. For more information on hunting this national refuge, which is managed by the Wister staff, call (760) 359-0577.
Finney-Ramer Unit – No report filed. Finney-Ramer is part of the Imperial Wildlife Area, located on the south end of the Salton Sea, is open to hunters seven days a week under a self-registration and self-reporting system. For more details on this refuge, which is also managed by the Wister Unit, call (760) 359-0577.
San Jacinto Wildlife Area – Duck hunting was just fair this week with just over a one bird average for the 300 hunters in blinds. Northern shovelers topped the comp list with about 100 birds a day bagged, but only 1 snow goose was harvested. GWT and gads were also posted. This refuge shoot days are Wednesday and Saturday and draw time is 3 a.m. For information, contact the wildlife office at (951) 928-0580.
Lake Perris – No word on when this lake will begin shooting ducks again. Still awaiting details on a “hunt plan” for the future, with the lake currently higher than last year. San Jacinto Wildlife Area manages this hunting/fishing lake.
Prado Basin Wetlands – Hunting improved for the three clubs in the basin this past week. Good flocks of spoonbills decoyed well and the arrival of more teal made for good gunning. Water was backed up behind the dam from runoff and more is expected with this week’s storms.
Lake Henshaw (My Country Club) – It’s about time for Canada geese to start showing up. Reservations are a must and there will be a daily drawing for blind sites. For more information call (760) 782-3501.
San Diego City Reservoirs – Lake Barrett only shot for a 1-bird hunter average on Saturday with a mix of puddle and diving ducks bagged.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge – Spoonbill were the top duck on a game strap with 120 shot by 59 hunters along with 30 pintails for the Saturday hunt. The average was 3.75 birds per gun. This refuge hosted a total of 50 hunters for the Wednesday hunt that shot for about a 5-bird average. Top ducks killed were spoonbills, GWT and widgeon. For additional information on hunting Kern, call (661) 725-2767, or for the hunter information hotline call (661) 725-6504, which is updated after each shoot day. A website is also available to access hunt results and other information about this popular southern San Joaquin Valley hunting refuge.
Cibola / Lower Colorado River – Pushed south by freezing weather in the Great Basin region, more Canada geese arrived in Cibola Valley this past week. From now on, hunters in the valley can expect to see more honkers showing up almost daily. For information on booking a couple of days in a goose blind while staying in a South Ranch cabin, call the Cibola Sportsman’s Club at (702) 355-8784 or email them at email@example.com. Contact the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge at (928) 857-3253 for shoot days and draw information on the Farm Fields and open hunting on the Island Unit.
North state duck gunners enjoying more consistent hunting
BY DAN MATHISEN
SACRAMENTO – Once again, the Colusa/Sacramento/Delevan and pretty much the entire area in the shadow of the Buttes had flashes of brilliance, but now that some weather has arrived there’s much more consistency. While all three of the above-mentioned locations seem to be packed full of spoonies, gadwall and teal, certainly praying for weather paid off with lots of movement. It seems like all of the refuges are packed full of these three species of duck. Tomas at Blosser Outfitter’s clients had a solid turnaround, as birds are on the move again this week as the pace of a couple week ago resumed. Blosser nailed it as the return of weather every few days has them falling more consistency again. The geese fell over on the Biggs/Richvale side, and it looks like weather did the trick.
There is plenty going on around the Buttes with Delevan, Colusa, and Sacramento all having good numbers of birds piled in. In the Colusa area, Western Outdoor News columnist Clara Ricabal enjoyed a tremendous hunt on Sunday morning on a private club with Jack Dolan, president of the Palo Alto Chapter of California Waterfowl, and she scored a mixed strap of specklebelly geese and mallards. Manny Natsios of Wilderness Unlimited also found limits including a quality pintail on his blind near Colusa.
In the Los Banos area, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, found phenomenal action for early limits of widgeon and teal on Saturday, but Sunday’s action was tough to say the least. He said, “The birds blew out of the area within a day as they are stuffing themselves on the exposed seeds on the field. Adding water to the ground that hasn’t had water previously will force them to move in order to eat. It was gloomy and foggy on Sunday morning, and the birds from the previous day were gone.”
The Delta is done suffering from the weather doldrums as fronts every few days really helped put some better numbers up. Widgeon and shovelers are falling, and lots of geese on the move. Well, have a safe and fun Christmas holiday as soon we will be in the last month of our season.