WILLOWS — The ducks and geese in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys have gathered together again, and hunters who find themselves next to refuges or unhunted flooded areas where the ducks are have been scoring well. Otherwise, it’s been slim pickings.
Our blind on Delevan Road between the Sac and Delevan refuges was great the first half of the season, and terrible the last half. This past week there were no birds anywhere in “the area” covering several miles in every direction after a drive-around by our club member John Pickett of Lake Tahoe.
Pickett and friend Brendon Hinckle opted to hunt Gray Lodge on Saturday and Sunday, and said they had “hundreds” of ducks working their west side pond at shooting light on Saturday. They ignored the teal and spoonies and concentrated on big birds with Hinckle limiting, and Pickett managed 4 big ducks before he had a problem with the ejector spring in his shotgun. On Sunday, Pickett hunted alone and said it was very slow, but he still managed 4 ducks by 1 p.m., hitting almost all the birds that worked.
Birds have made their annual late-season shift from the west side of the Sac Valley to the east side, and District 10 and parts south have been good.
LITTLE DRY CREEK, blind No. 8, produced limits for WON Field Reporter Andre Fontenot (left) and hunting partner Phil Fees on Wednesday of last week. The passed on spoonies and teal, and still had limits of big ducks and some geese by 1 p.m.
“Duck hunting was the best of the season,” according to Yee Vang of Broadway Bait Rod and Gun, “especially on the east side of the Valley — District 10 and Natomas Basin.” Vang said around 500 birds were checked in to be cleaned over last weekend, and the primary birds were widgeon and teal.
Casey Stafford at CICC Outdoor Adventures reported that his blinds shot mostly limits all this past week. "This past Tuesday our Delevan blind off Packer Road shot 21 birds in the fog. On Wednesday, we hunted two blinds--four clients shot 28 birds at Richvale and they got 3 limits at packer Road. On Thursday, they shot 3 limits each at the blinds at Packer Road, Colusa and Richvale. Friday, things were a little tougher for the two hunters at Packer Road--only 12 ducks. On Saturday, the Colusa blind bagged 4 limits while packer Road was short again with only 16 birds for 3 hunters. This cold weather has moved a lot of birds south into our area."
WON Field Reporter Andre Fontenot reported in: “I hunted Little Dry Creek on Wednesday with my friend Phil Fee and we had a great shoot. We had reservation No.2 and choose blind 8. The weather was excellent with the high fog as the ducks flew under it all morning. Things started a little slow because we chose not to shoot at teal and spoonies. I was getting a little nervous because I only had a wigeon and a pintail in the first hour. Then the flights started around 8 a.m. and it never shut down. We saw non-stop action until we both had limits just before 10 a.m. I was surprised that we didn't see any mallards. In addition to the numerous teal and spoonies, we saw flight after flights of pintail, wigeon and gadwalls. After we shot our limits we decided to see if the specks would come over us low enough to bag some. After a few flocks flared out of our range, I decided to try shooting at a semi-high group. I got lucky, broke a wing and we had our first speck in the bag. About an hour later Phil doubled on a pair that came over and we decided to call it a day at 1 p.m.
“Our totals for the morning were 4 bull sprig, 6 wigeon, 4 gadwall and 3 specks,” Fontenot said. “We had an excellent blind in No. 8, but the walk in/out is horrible. The mud cakes up on your cart wheels and you pretty much have to drag your cart the last 200 yards through the mud on the roadway. The blinds at Little Dry Creek are a hike, and well worth, it but a 45-minute walk took us and hour and a half on the way in. If I ever get lucky enough to hunt this top blind I'll pack a light load and carry it out.”
Vince Sargentini hunted his pond on the northeast side of Sac Refuge and found it okay: “The weather was cold, clear, and there was a slight northerly breeze in the morning. That being said, we didn't fire a shot for the first hour of shoot time. The sun was up and we thought we had a few gadwall come in (that we thought were canvasbacks) and my guest was able to get one of those. A bit later the snows came out, about 8 a.m. and we were able to get one of those also. Around 9 a.m. the pintails started to work. They were mostly coming from a field to the north of us, and we got our limit of those within short order. Spoonies were plentiful and about 10 or so we gave in to get a few of those, also. Since there was nothing flying beyond spoonies, we went in for lunch. When we returned about 2:30, the wind had died. We returned to the blind and managed to get a couple more errant teal and one more snow. We hunted a blind on the northern end of the club in a cut rice field. Other people on the club on the southern side in the natural were rewarded with a few snows and one of our members cleaned up with a nice limit of mallard and pintail.”
Pete Camarda at the Late Water Duck Club in Los Banos reported that shooting was sporadic this past Saturday. "We had to work at it, but finally killed limits of teal. The flight was spotty, but eventually we had a enough pairs and singles buzz by to get it done."
WON Staff Writer Ron Wilson said that the Central Valley was about the same as last week. “Limits were the rule on private clubs this weekend in Gustine, and down at Mendota, knowledgeable hunters who let the ducks work scored limits or near limits. Free roam hunters who don’t use decoys and move in on other hunters’ decoys and then shoot passing birds high at the refuges makes for a very unenjoyably hunting day for hunters who haul all their gear out to hunt waterfowl right.
“While our blind at Modesto reservoir has been shooting good all week, with a half dozen birds to a dozen or so killed daily, other blinds were not doing that well,” Wilson said. “Friday and Saturday this week I have seen lots of birds fall into the lake away from blinds in groups of 10 to 50 birds that hit the water and start drinking as soon as they land, resting just a little bit then taking off heading south. Looks like the last couple weeks of waterfowl season might get good. We did see specks move into the lake in numbers Friday at Modesto Reservoir. There are probably a 1,000 honkers or more scattered around Modesto Reservoir, but few are being killed. The specks seem to be getting educated also and land where it is safe.”