Hunting Report

Weather needed for successful waterfowling most anywhere

BY ANDRE FONTENOT/Western Outdoor News Field ReporterPublished: Nov 09, 2017

SACRAMENTO — I was lucky to get out duck hunting three times this week, and that is rare for me, but my wife headed to visit our daughter at UCLA and took our youngest son, so with no childcare I was free to hunt. And I did!

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, I was stoked when I was the No. 1 ressie draw for Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. As time drew closer to the hunt I grew less optimistic. I figured we needed weather to move the ducks and geese off the closed zones in the areas. The weather report was showing it to be a “bluebird” day, not what any waterfowler is looking for.

SAN LUIS REFUGE produced these two nice drake wood ducks for Jonathan Tin of San Francisco, who hunted the free roam area last week.

I arrived at the check station early and met my hunting partner for the day, Kevin Eck. We looked at recent waterfowl reports for the top shooting blind and we decided on blind 36. What I feared — no weather, no ducks — came true. Kevin and I missed a few but hit more than we missed. Our blind was across from the closed zone and we watched ducks and geese get up fly around and land time after time in the closed zone. Nothing like being teased all morning! A few strayed a little too far out of the closed zone and paid the price.

By 11 a.m. we decided to call it a morning, I had three ducks, two spoonies and a teal and Kevin had two spoonies and a snow goose. What hurt was we lost five ducks to tules. Kevin’s dog was very young and not good around the tules. With the very limited number of shots being fired I was very surprised to see the average for the day was 3.3.

On Friday I saw we were going to have the first rain of the season and a light wind, so I packed up and headed to my club, located near the Sutter Bypass. On my walk to the blind I thought it was going to be another long day, as I heard no ducks getting off the ponds and I didn’t see ducks flying.

I set up a few “Wind Wackers,” sat down and waited for shooting time. A pair of pintail circled my pond once and I dropped the hen on my first shot. I would have gone for the drake but he swung wide of my blind. Next up, a single greenhead can right over me cupped and he got folded on my first shot. The last duck of the morning I bagged was a wigeon. I dropped the one closest to me but missed the other as it flared after my first shot. Three ducks in the first hour had me feeling pretty good, but then things shut down.

fieldreporterandreFIELD REPORTER Andre Fontenot had a decent shoot from his bline last week when he shot a honker, cackler, immature drake pintail, greenhead and a wigeon.

At 10 am I was on the phone with my blind partner giving him a report when a blind east of me hit what I thought was a speck. This goose dropped but never hit the ground, it began flying right at me about 30 feet off the ground, I told Kevin, “I gotta go.” Once this goose got close enough I saw it was a huge honker. I fired once and it dropped in my pond. I had just shot my first Sac Valley honker in over 30 years! I retrieved my honker and made it back to my blind to catch my breath.

After sitting there for about 20 minutes I had two geese making a bee line towards me, but as they got closer they began to swing wide. I shot at the closer goose and as luck would have it, I stoned it! This smaller looking Canadian goose was a cackling goose. At 10:30 I called it a morning, extremely happy with my bag of three ducks and two geese.

Two days later, Sunday, I returned to my club hoping my luck and good shooting would continue. No such luck, the morning was very slow. I was looking at my watch at 8 a.m. ready to leave. Nothing was flying other than a few high geese and an occasional duck or two. I did harvest a ringneck duck and lost a greenhead.

I have always looked at getting ducks in November as a bonus, because after opening weekend the numbers typical drop off. Add in areas where there’s pheasant hunting and the few waterfowl leave the area. Until the freeze up north, which bring the birds down the Pacific Flyway, I will wait at home and watch the weather reports praying for storms.

Most of my buddies had similar slow hunts. I talked to Phil Fee, who had No. 2 ressie for Llano Seco on Wednesday, November 1, and his group of four bagged one duck. Mike Niemi, of Modesto, also told me it was very slow at his club in the Grasslands, where he bagged one gadwall. I did get one decent report, Jonathan Tin, of San Francisco, who headed to San Luis with a friend and the harvested eight wood ducks.

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