Junior waterfowl hunt a huge success at Southern California's public areas

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Junior waterfowl hunt a huge success at Southern California's public areas

Jim Matthews, Outdoor News Service

2/5/09


The San Jacinto Wildlife Area had its highest junior hunter turnout ever for the special junior waterfowl hunting day at this public hunting area in western Riverside County near Lake Perris.


"This is more than double the number of kids we had here last year," said Scott Sewell, the area manager for the Department of Fish and Game, of the 69 junior hunters.


Wildlife Area staff and hunter volunteers fed the kids a pancake breakfast at 3 a.m. before hunting and barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs for the kids, volunteers, and families at noon when over 200 people were present.


The kids ended up shooting more ducks and with a better average than on the last day of the regular season (when adult hunters could shoot) at San Jacinto. The 69 juniors shot 124 ducks and four coots for nearly two birds each, while the average was barely over a bird per hunter on Saturday, Jan. 24, the last day of the regular season.


And many of the kids were first-time hunters. Brothers Tim LeBlanc and Justin Weber, both of San Jacinto, had four birds each -- four redheads, three greenwing teal, and a cinnamon teal -- at the noon break and were going to go back out for the afternoon to try for more. While both were avid recreational shooters, it was their first time hunting.


Emily Thomas hunted with her dad Mike and only nodded to questions about the hunting. Had she ever hunted ducks before? She shook her head with eyes wide. Did you have fun? With a big grin, her head bobbed up and down. She was holding a big gadwall and three greenwings that she'd shot. You must be a pretty good shooter? Her eyes sparkled and she gave a few short, quick nods and a little, not-so-modest smile.


"This is way cool,"? said Sewell. "All the dads and volunteers are saying the same thing, "This is better than hunting on my own. "Everyone had a great time."


Similar hunts also took place at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area and the adjoining Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. At Kern, the 53 junior hunters had a terrific shoot, averaging nearly three ducks each on the Saturday hunt, while the 53 juniors at Wister and the Union Tract on Saturday, Jan. 31, shot 52 ducks and 34 light geese for a 1.6 average. On the Sunday hunt, the 28 juniors shot 23 ducks and 16 light geese for a 1.4 average.


What follows is the area-by-area breakdown for special junior waterfowl hunt on Jan. 31-Feb. 1:


At the SAN JACINTO WILDLIFE AREA, there were 69 junior hunters on Saturday, Jan. 31 who shot 124 ducks and four coots for a 1.86 average The duck bag included 56 greenwing teal, 23 shovelers, 12 redheads, 10 bufflehead, eight cinnamon teal, five gadwall, four ruddies, two mallards, two pintail, and two ringnecks.

During the season, San Jacinto is open to waterfowl and pheasant hunting through the state reservation system or a daily drawing for remaining sites after all reservation holders are admitted to the area. Refills are also permitted until 2 p.m. Shoot days are Wednesday and Saturday for waterfowl, and Mondays for pheasants during the pheasant season. For more information, contact the wildlife area at 951-928-0580 or visit the web site at www.sjwa.info.


At the WISTER UNIT of the IMPERIAL WILDLIFE AREA on the Salton Sea, there were 40 junior hunters on Saturday, Jan. 31, who shot 44 ducks and 15 snow geese for a 1.48 average. The duck bag included 11 pintail, nine wigeon, seven greenwings, six gadwall, five shovelers, four mallards, and two scaup. On Sunday, Feb. 1, there were 22 junior hunters who shot seven snow geese, six shovelers, four mallards, four pintail, four greenwings, and four cinnamons for a 1.32 average.

During the season, Wister is open to waterfowl hunting through the state reservation system and a daily drawing for sites after all reservation holders are admitted to the area. Refills are permitted. Shoot days are Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, contact the unit at 760-359-0577.


At the SONNY BONO-SALTON SEA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, there were 13 junior hunters on Saturday, Jan. 31, who shot 17 snow geese, three pintail, three shovelers, two Ross' geese, and two greenwings for a 1.93 average. On Sunday, Feb. 1, there were six junior hunters who shot seven Ross' geese, two snow geese, and one shoveler for a 1.67 average. During the season, the refuge is managed as part of the Wister Unit. For more information, contact the Wister Unit at 760-359-0577.
At the KERN NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, there were 53 junior hunters on Saturday, Jan. 31, who shot 146 ducks for a 2.75 average. The duck kill consisted of 53 greenwings, 31 shovelers, 30 cinnamons, 17 gadwall, six wigeon, four mallards, four pintail, and one bufflehead.

During the season, Kern is open to waterfowl hunting through the state reservation system or a daily drawing for remaining sites after all reservation holders are admitted to the area. Refills are also permitted throughout the shoot day. Shoot days are Wednesday and Saturday. For more information, call 661-725-2767 or the comprehensive hunter's hotline at 661-725-6504, normally updated after each hunt day.


Hunters who would like to contribute information and photographs to this report should e-mail the information to Jim Matthews at odwriter@verizon.net. Please note the new e-mail address.
 


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