|Spring weather has really greened up most all of the entire southern portion of California and down in Mexico, and Mother Nature has contributed to what could be an awesome breeding and nesting period for all wild game. Local mallards and mourning dove are all paired up and many are already on nests, and in some areas Rio Grande turkeys have dispersed. It appears the first peek of the turkey breeding season could occur, at least in Southern California and perhaps up along the central coast, prior to opening day of the spring turkey season.
MIXED BAG LIMIT OF PUDDLE DUCKS — Western Outdoor News reader Gus Osterkamp of Tustin bagged his mixed bag limit of puddle ducks while on a hunt with the Sinalo Pato Duck and Dove Club. While most all of California didn’t live up to waterfowl hunting expectations this past year most all duck hunting Meccas in Mexico offered up excellent gunning. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC
Western Outdoor News has just returned from a combo “cast and blast” trip down to mainland Mexico. The flight from Chino airport took us right over much of the wetlands of the Inland Empire, down across Imperial Valley, over the vast farming Mecca of Mexicali and wetlands of the Rio Hardy region in route to the rural Mexican city of El Fuerte. It was a good hunt, mixed with a productive, fun bass trip to Huites Lake.
Thanks to a near record setting late winter of heavy rain for all of California there are hundreds and hundreds of small lakes, ponds and flooded fields with most all creeks, streams and rivers showing flowing water. Some of these water holding spots will begin to dry out with the return of summer like weather, but based on information collected during conservations with wildlife biologists and visits with exhibitors at the Fred Hall Long Beach show, all is looking promising for an excellent hatch of upland game birds and locally nesting waterfowl.
“Our upland game bird fields are in prime condition and we should be able to shoot right up until pheasant begin breeding. Our cover is excellent, but there is a mix of foxtails along with native grass, oats and shrubs. We will continue to monitor the status of foxtails which currently are still green. As soon as they begin to dry up we’ll stop hunting until reopening early next fall,” said Tony Hendy owner of Raahauge’s Pheasant Club.
Prado Basin is still flooded with water being held back by the Orange County Water District at Prado Dam. The flooded timber and the surrounding wetlands should produce excellent nesting habitat for puddle ducks. There are paired up gadwall, mallards, cinnamon teal and spoonbills showing in good numbers and hopefully many of these ducks will be provided ample breeding areas to produce big clutches of puddle ducks. Currently there is no time frame for when water will be released out of the dam and with work scheduled down along the lower Santa Ana River it’s likely that there will be enough water behind the dam to provide ideal nesting habitat.
Western Outdoor News checked in with Justin Franklin of Pacific Wings Prairie Outfitters who offers duck and goose hunting in eastern Washington and the pothole region of Saskatchewan.
“We are coming off an excellent season of mallard hunting and prime Canada and snow goose hunting out of our operation based in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It was nearly a season of full limits for both ducks and geese. Conditions currently are excellent for a repeat of a very strong nesting season this spring. I would expect this coming season to produce tremendous duck hunting along most of the entire Pacific Flyway with huge populations of migrating puddle ducks, mixing with locally hatched mallards, hitting the vast watersheds of the Columbia Basin in good numbers,” stated Franklin.
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Raney Ranch Retrievers, located above Lake Henshaw, will host a snake avoidance clinic on March 17 and 18 at the home ranch. The cost to run a gun dog through the clinic is $75 and there will be mid-afternoon BBQ in the barn. For more information call (760) 782-0408
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Of interest to those big game hunter readers of WON, the annual Safari Club International “Hunters’ Convention” will be moving across town in Las Vegas for the 2018 show for the dates of Jan. 31 – Feb. 3 to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Then the annual SCI event will make a huge move back to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center for a 3 year commitment starting with the 2019 show with dates of Jan. 9 -12, 2019 firmed up. For information on Safari Club International activities log on to their web site at safariclub.org.