DUCK REPORT: Duck counts take big jump as storm moves birds into southern flyway

BY JIM NIEMIEC/WON Staff WriterPublished: Dec 07, 2009


LAKEVIEW - An influx of new birds rewarded hunters at the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge and Kern National Wildlife Refuge with good gunning this past week. Overall, hunters posted a better than 2 bird per gun average with many of the ducks harvested being big puddle ducks. There were also a lot of diving ducks shot and more divers should begin showing up on the deeper shooting sites this coming week. Tule fog developed in the valley during the week, but should be blown out by passing storms for this week's shoot days.

    Flocks of wigeon are starting to work decoys and have mixed well with northern shovelers and gadwall at San Jacinto, while the bulk of the ducks shot at Kern where gadwall and shovelers. Not much in the way of teal counts were posted this past week, but these smaller ducks should start arriving after this week's series of storms move through the Southland.

    Prado Basin also saw more new birds arrive, which kept the average above 2 birds a shooter. If the Inland Empire gets the rains predicted much of the basin could be flooded by mid-week and these conditions could see more birds holding in flooded timber through the rest of December.

    The 3,000 white geese on Wister are holding tight to non shoot zones and moving in big bunches. Snows and Ross' geese should start joy-riding around the valley looking for new food sources, which should make decoy shooting better. The count is building daily for the federal units over by Westmoreland and should peak by mid-December with some 40,000 birds.

Wister Wildlife Refuge – A total of 179 duck hunters showed up for the Sat. shoot at Wister and bagged a total of 197 ducks and 17 white geese for a 1.2 per gun average. Shovelers topped the comp list, followed by pintail and wigeon. The snow geese were pretty much scattered around the refuge on Sat. On Sun. hunting was on the slow side with just a 0.5 average reported under light hunting pressure and very little wind. Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife area on the Salton Sea is open to waterfowl hunting through the state reservation system and a daily drawing for sites after all reservation holders have made their selection. This popular refuge shoots on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. For more details on hunting Wister call the DFG on site office at (760) 359-0577.

Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge – There were just 4 geese reported shot on Sat. to go along with 17 ducks.  The white geese are still not moving off the closed portion of this refuge in large flocks. This refuge is managed as part of the Wister Unit. For more information on hunting this national refuge call (760) 359-0577.

Finney-Ramer Unit – Shovelers and green-winged teal continue to account for most of the birds being bagged under very light hunting pressure. Finney-Ramer is part of the Imperial Wildlife Area, located on the south end of the Salton Sea, is open to hunters 7 days a week under a self-registration and self-reporting system. For more details on this refuge managed by the Wister Unit call (760) 359-0577.

Westmoreland - The peak of the snow and Ross' goose season has arrived and hunting green fields has been consistent for hunters shooting over decoys with Fortin Outfitters, based out of Westmoreland.

San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge – This refuge shot very well on Sat. as new birds arrived and made for one of the better shoots of the season. There were 112 hunters in blinds and they shot a total of 273 ducks and 2 white-fronted geese for an overall average of 2.46 birds per hunter. The total included 94 shovelers and 56 wigeon to go along with 34 gadwall. There were also good numbers posted on diving ducks with hunters shooting over open water harvesting 31 redheads. Open to duck hunting through the state reservation system and a draw is held on each shoot day to fill open sites. No refill hunters will be allowed to go into the field after 2 pm. Shoot days are Wednesday and Saturday and the draw on shoot days is 3 am. For more information contact the wildlife office at (951) 928-0580.

Lake Perris - Not offering duck hunting again this season due to low water but hunting is open for upland game birds. The San Jacinto Wildlife Area also manages this hunting area.

Prado Basin – Improved hunting rewarded hunters this past week as more new birds arrived in this portion of the flyway. It was a mix of puddle ducks and divers that made for one of the better shoots to start off the late season. Seasonal rains could partially flood the basin this coming week. Canada geese working the basin on shoot days and a few are being bagged at lift off and high pass shooting as the birds head out of nearby ranches and farms where a few goose shooters have hunting rights. Raahauge's Duck Club, which shot for a 2.7 per gun average on Sat., offers public hunting in the basin only by advance reservations.

San Diego City Reservoirs – Hunting slowed this past week as no new birds arrived at the lake. Ring-necked ducks and big puddle ducks accounted for the bulk of the birds shot, but there were no limits reported and the Sat. shoot produced a 2.0 per gun average. The City of San Diego is offering duck hunting this season only at Barrett, shooting on Wednesday and Saturday .For more information on hunting the San Diego City Lakes call (619) 465-3474.

Kern National Wildlife Refuge
– This refuge shot well on Sat. under a cloudy sky with some Tule fog in the area. The overall average for the refuge was 2.19 birds with the bulk of the birds shot being big puddle ducks. There were 59 gadwall taken, 48 shovelers and 34 pintail topping the comp count. The best shooting took place in site 1A, which posted a 2.8 per shooter average. For information on hunting Kern call (661) 725-2767 or for the hunter information hotline call (661) 725-6504, which is updated after each shoot day.

Cibola – Good hunt reports from Cibola Valley continued this week for the Cibola Sportsman's Club South Ranch and the wildlife refuge. The movement of dark geese continues and this week's cold front should kick more Canada geese out of the Salt Lake basin area that is freezing up.

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