Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Ducks sticking around local refuges and clubs
|Helped by Santa Ana winds duck hunters enjoyed pretty good gunning at wildlife refuges and clubs. Hunters in Prado Basin blinds shot well for the Wed. shoot and then came the winds for Sat., which produced almost better shooting than on opening day. In addition to lots of teal, basin wetlands attracted new flocks of wigeon to mix well with local mallards and wood ducks. There were four speckled-belly geese also shot on Sat. The average harvest for Raahauge’s Duck Club was 4.5 birds and it looks like there is plenty of food to hold ducks with basin hunters awaiting the new flights of northern birds.
Wister was slow on Wed. after an excellent opener. There was a mix of puddle ducks taken from hunting sites both north and south of the check station. A few geese were flying around, but none were reported harvested. The key to hunter success on Wed. was not only having a high permit draw number but also sticking it out for flocks of pintail that returned to ponded water to drink fresh water. The Sat. shoot at Wister produced good shooting under clear but slightly breezy conditions, which kept birds moving around for most of the morning.
White goose season will open for Imperial Valley on Sat. Nov. 3. There are not a lot of snow or Ross’ geese in the valley, but this could all change with the full moon phase that took place earlier in the week. Look to Wister to shoot well on its southerly green fields, the Union Tract should see some action and there might be some more early arriving flocks of white geese that will show up this week around Westmorland. Most of the geese are likely to stick to the Farm Unit of the federal refuge or the closed zones of Wister and the federal refuge headquarters until numbers build up and rye grass is consumed by white geese. Look to ponds with stands of bull rush as a good choice to hunting snow and Ross’ geese over water.
San Jacinto continued to shoot very well last Wed. with a total of 551 waterfowl shot by 126 shooters for a very respectable 4.37 per shooter average. The top duck on the comp list was the shoveler with 196 shot to go along with 157 cinnamon teal. In addition to lots of puddle ducks bagged there were good numbers of redheads and ring-necked ducks shot.
Lake Barrett down in San Diego County also kept up an above average harvest of ducks with light hunting pressure. A 1.79 per gun average was posted for the Wed. shoot and for Sat. 24 hunters bagged only 35 ducks and shoot for a 1.4 bird average. Teal, ruddy ducks and mallards accounted for the bulk of the birds shot as there were only a few big diving ducks bagged by shore line hunters.
Kern National Wildlife Refuge had its second opener on Sat. and hunting was vastly better than during that short period this refuge was open earlier in October. Kern will now shoot twice a week through the end of the season. WON checked in with the refuge to get an update on bird count and more hunting opportunities. The refuge is still flooding up and Unit 2 along with 2 additional blinds were added for the second opener. There are lots of ducks in this southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and with a little weather this refuge should continue to shoot okay.
It’s too early for much in the way of geese showing up in Cibola Valley, but there has been some pretty good duck hunting at the refuge, on the lower Colorado River and at the Cibola Sportsman’s Club. Some white geese showed up last week but the count has not quite reached shooting numbers yet. The Cibola Sportsman’s Club has added a new field to it's goose hunting program that should blend in well by offering options to hunt the North, South or the newly leased goose blinds adjacent to the closed zone in the refuge. Stay tuned to Western Outdoor News for reports on the arrival of Canada geese in Cibola Valley in the weeks ahead.