|White geese have already started
piling into the Wister Wildlife Refuge, Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge, the Farm
Unit adjacent to Westmoreland, Chino Hills and Cibola Valley. There was a
little bit in the way of a southerly migration of both dark and white geese
over the full moon last week and that arctic storm also moved a few more geese
in this direction. Likely the best hunting will start this coming weekend and
continue strong through the remainder of the season, IF, La Niña weather patterns continue and birds
are kicked out of the Columbia and Great basins.
"Right now we are looking at
perhaps 3,500 to 5,000 white geese split up between the closed zone of the
Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge and the Farm Unit, but those numbers should jump up
considerably as we move closer to the end of the month. The early full moon of
November was a little off in timing, but the white geese still started showing
up in a timely manner," reported Danny Gomez, Department Project Leader
for the refuge.
Gomez went on to tell Western
"We got all the planting and flooding done ahead of the arrival of snow
and Ross' geese and there is plenty of rye grass in the fields to hold geese
while they winter over on the refuge. Based on information being passed along
by biologists we are expecting about the same number of geese to winter here as
last season. Our grass is looking quite good and those cooler days of late
summer and into early fall really helped in getting the green feed growing.
There was no alfalfa planted this year."
When asked about hunting on the
Union Tract Gomez stated, "Hunting will the same as it was last season. We
try to protect our crop and provide additional feed for the geese. Right now
the closed zone at refuge headquarters is not holding a lot of birds, but I
expect that to change soon."
Gomez told WON that there are about 1,500 acres
planted in the Farm Unit in addition to some loafing ponds that have bull rush,
adding that the peak of the season should occur mid to late December.
White geese are still building in
numbers on refuge property north of Westmoreland and pretty much sticking to
the refuge where new rye grass is at a tender stage, which geese really like.
Birds will start moving off the refuge when the population gets to about 12,000
birds and that's when the geese will begin "joy riding" around the
valley and become very decoyable for at least a few weeks.
Fortin Outfitters, based out of
Westmoreland, offers guided white goose hunts all season long, of which some
take place in fields with decoys and later in the season hunters can expect
some excellent pass shooting.
"We won't likely start hunting
until around Thanksgiving unless the birds really start piling into the refuge.
The last storm really saw a lot of new birds arrive on this corner of the sea
and more are coming in every day. One of the local farmers believes there are
well over 5,000 white geese here already. Normally our best shooting takes
place the last week of November and into mid-December for decoy shooting, and
then based on the movement of birds across the valley, we'll switch over to
pass shooting if the birds become decoy shy. Early in the season we will see a
lot of juvenile birds and they decoy well, while the more mature snow geese are
a lot smarter, but then we have the smaller Ross' geese that really like to
dive into a spread," said Danny Moss, Master guide for Fortin Outfitters
There are some geese currently
winging over the San Jacinto Valley but numbers are not significant. Canada,
snow and speckled belly geese all use this well established flyway on any given
day, if the wind blows or a storm front moves in any of the geese could be
harvested either at the refuge or off duck clubs.
There are just a few Canada geese
holding up on private property in the Chino Hills area but these numbers will
change when geese are kicked out of the Great Basin and head south to spend the
winter. Hunters in blinds in Prado Basin will start harvesting honkers by
Thanksgiving and even better hunting will occur in December, especially during
very windy Santa Ana wind conditions across the Inland Empire.
As mentioned in a previous hunting
column, Lake Henshaw will begin its waterfowl hunting program perhaps as early
as the end of November. Flocks of Canada geese will finally start arriving
early in December the first geese that show up on the lake and adjacent
property can be shot over decoys. In addition to good goose hunting the lake
and its wetlands can offer up some pretty good duck gunning.
Good word from Cibola Valley was
passed along as well. "It's still early in the season for Cibola but right
now I would say there are about 100 Canada geese in the valley and perhaps 50
white geese. Freezing temperatures in Utah are likely to kick out the geese
more birds should start showing up soon. Last year the valley shot well for our
two ranches, the refuge and on sand bars in the Lower Colorado River," said
Bob Corbett, owner of the Cibola Sportsman's Club (702) 355-8784.
Corbett went on to state, "We
made some changes to the fields and duck pond on the South Ranch and farmed a
new field of alfalfa, which should really work to attract Canada geese to our property
by pulling them off the river flyway or have them fly directly over our fields
as they lift of Hart Mine Marsh. I think the new pond will offer up good duck
hunting early in the morning and late in the evening. As far as the North Ranch
it will remain the same and should prove to be great for new incoming honkers,
as it has produced many a good shoot year after year."
Looking ahead into December most of
the geese should already be here and huntable, but most likely the rest of the
migration might end on the full moon phase that will occur on Dec.10. If
the migration goes like it did last year, with continual freezing in the Great
Basin, big Canada geese will continue to fly south on a direct line to Cibola.
CIBOLA HONKERS — Last year hunters shot a lot of
Canada geese while hunting with the Cibola Sportsman's Club. Both the South and
North ranches enjoyed good gunning during December and well into January. Club
co-owner Tim Corbett shoulders a limit of big Canada geese that were shot
during a cold December day that saw a lot of new birds arrive in Cibola Valley.
WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC