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Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Now is the time to check out your shotgun!
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
Dove opener just fine, but birds scattered

What’s new afield
Very good news was passed on by Rick Francis, Wildlife Supervisor for Wister as WON was going to press.

“We just finished mowing our wheat fields and huge flocks of mourning and white-winged dove came to this food source. There is fresh water available, some good roosts nearby and all this should combine to produce a banner opening holiday weekend of dove hunting down here in Imperial Valley. After mowing Wister hunt sites 415 and 312A, both species of dove piled into these fields and there was enough water to allow them to drink nearby. There are not too many Eurasian collared dove winging over the refuge at this time,” stated Francis.


NEW BLACK CLOUD AMMO FROM FEDERAL — Federal Ammunition has added #1 and #3 waterfowl shot, in both 12 and 20-ga., to its popular line of Black Cloud duck and snow goose ammo. Dealers will have these new loads on selves for opening of duck season.

Francis went on to add, “The Farm Fields, just to the north of Brawley and off Hwy 111, were mowed last week and they are holding good numbers of birds right now. The weather is looking very promising with early morning temps in the high 70s. It’s looking like cooler weather might stay in place through opening weekend. There are still chances of thunder shower activity, but right now weather conditions are looking very promising,” said Francis.

Western Outdoor News has been checking on wetlands, estuaries and newly flooded duck ponds for the past week and indications are that the first small flocks of puddle ducks are starting to arrive. Prado Basin enjoyed a good local hatch of mallards, teal and gadwall on O.C. Water District ponds that are rotated and kept flooded all year long. Already these local birds are mixing with newly arriving puddle ducks hatched in other areas of California. At Wister, which traditionally sees it’s first winter flocks of northern pintail arrive by late August, there hasn’t been any showing up yet. According to Rick Francis, refuge manager, the refuge has started to flood up for waterfowl season and that could be the reason no new flights have arrived to date.

Ducks Unlimited’s latest report indicates that the overall waterfowl population is down for this current year, based on a survey just released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While most duck species LTA (long-term average) populations are above normal levels, only the widgeon showed an overall small increase in the number of ducks that will fill flyways this fall. Gadwall at 31 percent below 2017 levels, northern pintail and blue-winged teal at 18 percent below 2017 counts faced the largest species population declines.

Ducks Unlimited went on to state, “When and where ducks will be depends on many factors. Food availability, habitat and weather conditions, as well as other factors, all influence local bird abundance, distribution and ultimately, hunter success!

Perhaps, finally, AB 2805 – Depredation: Wild Pigs, authored by AM Frank Bigalow, will bring the cost of hog hunting down to where it should have been years ago. This newly introduced bill would make some major changes in the way California manages its growing wild pig population. This bill would, as authored, eliminate the need for ranch owners to purchase a pig tag for every pig taken (by depredation) and, as it stands now, allow the hunting public the opportunity to purchase an annual validation for hunting wild hogs. According to Bill Gaines, of Bill Gaines and Associates, AB 2805 will allow hunters to purchased a validation (similar to a duck stamp) and only have to buy it once a year and it would be good for as many pigs as a hunter would like to shoot. Gaines thinks that the cost of this annual wild pig validation will likely be $25.

Talking about wild hogs, Lincoln Raahauge announced last week that he will be starting to hunt the foothills of western slopes of the High Sierra on a private 12,000-acre ranch located about a 30-minute drive from Fresno. Raahauge’s hunts are for 2½ days, starting on Friday afternoon and ending on Sunday and he offers: a hunt conducted by a licensed guide, all-terrain vehicle afield, food, lodging, field dressing of a pig and hunting over experienced hog dogs. Hunters need bring all-weather hunting gear, sleeping bag, gun(s) ammo, hunting license and pig tag. For additional information and booking information Lincoln Raahauge’s Hog Hunting Guide Service, call (951) 334-1018.

Federal Ammunition has just introduced some new upland game bird and waterfowl shotgun shell ammo. While many dove hunters opt to shoot smaller gauge ammo on mourning and white-winged dove hunts, those having the extra option of shooting bigger Eurasian Collared dove often step up to a 12-gauge shotgun. Federal now has added new load options for its Hi-Bird Upland game bird ammo. Introduced just last year in limited shot sizes, now hunters can find #4, #5 and #6 lead Hi-Bird on dealer’s shelves. The powerful Hi-Bird loads feature a two-piece wad with SoftCell technology to decrease perceived recoil and produce a more consistent long-range pattern. With lead shot still being legal in California for quail and dove, Hi-Bird ammo is ideally suited for late season dove hunting when birds become fully feathered.

For waterfowl hunters Federal expanded load options for its Premium Black Cloud ammo featuring FLITEVCONTRL FLEX. Black Cloud ammo is now available in shot size # 1 and #3 in both 12 and 20-gagues. This load has a payload of 40 percent FLITESTOPPER steel pellets and 60 percent Premium steel for dense patterns and larger wound channels.

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