Southern California: Closing week of waterfowl season could be questionable
BY JIM NIEMIEC
NILAND – While duck hunters at Wister enjoyed pretty good wing shooting on Saturday, not so was hunting at San Jacinto and in Prado Basin. At Wister, the first big flocks of cinnamon teal arrived out of Mexico making up the bulk of the ducks killed. Hunters at San Jacinto got some shooting at teal and shovelers, but the just over 1-bird-per-gun average was reached with adding 72 coots to the comp count.
Hopefully, come closing weekend, there will be more ducks arriving from Mexico and maybe a few northern ducks will get pushed down with that arctic river moving across the lower end of the Pacific flyway this week.
Wister Wildlife Refuge –Shot for a 2.54-bird average on Saturday and a 1.5-bird average on Wednesday. Wednesday was also the best day for snow goose hunting under weather conditions that produced 13 white geese. Top bird shot on Wednesday was the green winged teal with 114 killed and on Saturday there were 129 cinnamon teal bagged. The comp count report also showed good numbers of pintail and gadwall harvested and plenty of shovelers. This popular refuge shoots on 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 – Only a total of 10 white geese were shot this past week, but there were 30 ducks killed that upped the hunter average to almost 2 birds a gun. 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 7 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 including Mystic Lake – This refuge hosted 185 hunters on Sat. and they combined to kill 326 ducks and 2 honkers for a 1.76-per-gun average. Top duck shot was the GWT with 114 killed to go along with 92 spoonbills and 42 cinnamon teal. 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. San Jacinto Wildlife Area manages this hunting/fishing lake.
Prado Basin – It was very slow hunting on Saturday despite some rain and very cloudy conditions. Seems that ducks are not using the Santa Ana River flyway other than for its loafing ponds. Hunters are hopeful of newly arriving ducks to make for better overall hunting as the waterfowl season come to an end on Sunday.
Lake Henshaw (My Country Club) – Reports of more ducks showing up in the valley have resulted in better overall hunting for both puddle and diving ducks. 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 – The Saturday hunt produced a 3-bird average for the 9 hunters in shore line blinds. Hunting has stayed pretty much the same all season long on Lake Barrett with about a 2-bird per gun average. The mix of puddle ducks and divers will likely close out the season.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge – Kern shot for a respectable 4.15-bird average on Wednesday but that number dopped down to 2.7 birds for the Saturday shoot. Shovelers accounted for the bulk of the birds killed (196) to along with lots of teal and a dozen white fronted geese. There were also lots of diving ducks shot on both days. 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 – There are over 5,000 Canada geese in the valley, but for the most part they are flying the river route and have become decoy shy. Duck hunting is rated as just fair on the refuge and at South Ranch. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Junior hunts set for refuges and at Raahauge’s Duck Club
NILAND -Junior hunters will head out to duck blinds and sites
hopefully for a successful day of duck and possible goose hunting. Youth hunters under the age of 17 are required to have a valid hunting license and those of 17 years or older need to have duck stamps. All junior hunters must be accompanied by a supervising non-hunting adult (18 years of age or older) during their hunt. Hunt days are Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 6 and 7.
Scott Sewell, Wildlife Habitat Supervisor II, for both the Imperial Wildlife Area and San Jacinto Wildlife Area, told Western Outdoor News that both refuges will be hunting. “Due to COVID-19 regulations all attendees should be prepared to adhere to social distancing, wear a face mask, avoid large gatherings and remain outside for all activities. Everyone participating in the Junior hunts should be patient, as processing attendees might take more time due to our precautions to keep everyone safe,” said Sewell.
The Imperial Wildlife Area, Wister, will host a Junior hunt on both Saturday and Sunday and there will be a youth prize giveaway, sponsored by the Vega family and many supporters, that will take place at the check-in station off Davis Road on Saturday starting at noon. No lunch will be served at Wister on either shoot day.
San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge will host a junior hunt only on Saturday and there will be a lunch served at this Riverside County refuge.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge will also host only a Saturday hunt for junior hunters with donated giveaways for each youth hunter, but unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, no lunch will be provided this year.
Mike Raahauge’s Shooting Enterprises, will host a junior hunt at Raahauge’s Duck Club on Saturday with a 4:30 a.m. check-in time. Reservations are required and will be limited to the first 20 applicants that book a spot by wayof email at email@example.com. A hot dog lunch will be provided, fol- lowed by a raffle. For those youth hunters that don’t make the first 20 list, there will be an overflow list to contact a hunter if a spot become available.