Waterfowl season ends with a fizzle for NorCal gunners

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BY DAN MATHISEN

SACRAMENTO— It seems like the warm weather pattern has prevailed once again this year. Without hint of storms of significance in the early in the season the hunters throughout the Western flyway were singing the “worst duck season ever” melody. Then finally a stormy January and cold snap up north, we had of a recovery of sorts, but many just pulled the dog box off the back of their truck and packed up the camo and called it finished done.

It felt like yesterday we were full of promise for our season. This morning in my little corner of the river, silence except for the extremely distant sounds of geese so very high could barely make them out. Of course, it would finish that way. Piles of geese filling straps for many over last week here on the Delta, then on my last opportunity here, nada.

So now what to do? Obviously, I’ll try to run to the Shadow of the Buttes for a day or two of late season geese with weather in the forecast and birds finally moving. Here’s a bit on how things wound up in the last few days then I’ll give some tips on off season things to do to prepare and maybe improve odds for next season.

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Well, the Upper Butte Basin areas of Howard Slough, Llano Seco and Little Dry Creek had Snows show along with the snows, sprig and widgeon held spots on the straps.

In the Delevan area, similar to the U.B.B. areas, have been producing good late season numbers. Better late the never, still not great but better in a year of disappointment. Green wings and widgeon have been prominent and geese building as well.

The islands are finally seeing building numbers of snows, a few specks and occasional honker, I guessed wrong today but throughout the central delta they’re piling in. Suisun Grizzly areas were once again the exception to success.

Green wing teal and wigeon absolutely lit up the gadwall area with averages nearing 4 per gun. The San Joaquin Valley has been consistent. North Grasslands area’s of China Island and Gadwall had success as the season winds down.

China Island averaged 3 to 4 birds per hunter widgeon and green winged teal were the primary targets. Occasionally, geese showing here now as well. Where it really perked up was over at Gadwall where the area filled to take a number status for the inbound Green wings and widgeon.

Over at Mendota Green wings and widgeon were most prevalent and a few shovelers fell not nearly at the rate as the areas above still about 4 bird average.

Los Banos same story Green wings and widgeon yet there was the added pleasure of some northern pintails hanging on the straps. San Luis the weakest in the area, with a potpourri of teal, ring duck shovelers and mallard all showing in limited numbers. At the same time Volta averages 4 birds were comprised of widgeon and shovelers.

Further south Merced numbers were saved by the arrival of snows and white fronted geese otherwise it would’ve tanked.

So for the majority of us the season is finished, time to pick decoys, clean and lube all equipment, etc. Now as many refuges turn to bird watching there’s homework you can do. Spend time out in areas you’d like to hunt. Study those spring flight patterns take notes you will gain valuable knowledge for the next year.

 

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