Question on Ca Duck hunting..Help?

CODE3RUN

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I have never hunted ducks but would love to take my 12 yr old son out. How does the whole thing work? Could someone please tell me how the system works or what I need to buy?

Thanks
 
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easymoney

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Waterfowling takes a bit more gear than other hunting, but starts with a current lic, state and fed duck stamps, reliable shotgun, non tox shells, hand full of decoys and call to match the species, a set of brown or camo clothes including face net and a good retriever. Of course you can spend a fortune on more stuff once you get hooked.
Here in CA unless you have private property or are a member of a hunt club, most folks hunt public refuges which require a fee to enter.
The process usually involves getting there well before opening time, waiting in line, then picking a field or pond, setting up the dekes and waiting for shooting time. You can put in for reservations before hand, to assure you get in, or sweatline it.
The general idea is to let your decoys get the attention of the flying birds, then use your call to entice them to fly over or land in your spread. Then it's only a matter of hitting the fast flying ducks before they are spooked by the competition or they fly off. A good caller can bring down birds within range or a bad caller can clear the skys, so best to learn properly or just stay quiet and let the decoys do the work.
For most of us who waterfowl hunt, we become addicted to the entire process and continually add gear or refine what we have. Some carve our own dekes, make custom calls, raise and train our retrievers or even build custom duck boats.
Each species has a slightly different set of needs depending on whether puddle ducks or divers and the hunting varies as to whether field or water, big open water vs small puddles.
Thre are shelves full of books and videos to get started. At the top of each game forum page jesse has provided loads of info on public lands, refuges and species.
This sport has a long and wonderful hertitage which families have enjoyed for generations. Welcome and have fun, it's a blast...
 

db 183

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Check with Fish and Game. They put on a lot of advanced hunting classes and workshops including a waterfowl workshop. The cost is usually around 40 bucks but it is an all day shop and it usually includes lunch.

The only other bit of advice I would offer is don't go at o-dark-early your first couple of trips. Get there around 10 or 11. Watch and talk to the other hunters in the field. Get a feel for the refuge you are hunting while it is light out.

I have great success in the middle of the day and when I want to go to a new area I go in the middle of the day in order to see where I am going. Once you develop first hand knowledge then you can try the early morning thing.

And until you really learn to call, don't do it. I am not a very good caller so I stay away from the hail call. I will usually only offer a single quack here and there to get or keep their attention. I find that a good decoy spread and superior concealment work better for me.

And like Easy Money said, if you get into it, you will be buying more gear in no time. Trust me, if you get into this, it is worse than drug addiction. You will be buying all kinds of gear until one day you are buying a shed just to store it all.

If you are ever in the SF Bay Area during duck season, give me a holler. My daughter and I would be happy to take you out and show you how to do it.
 

coothunter

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As others have said, it is addicting. If you are really interested, you should join California Waterfowl Association. I believe the cost is $35 for you and $15 for your son. They have 1 and 2 day clinics on shooting and waterfowl hunting for juniors (which you are welcome to attend with him). My wife and both of my daughters got their hunter's safety certificates through one of these camps, and the they have gone back for various clinics.

One of the best opportunities they offer is a guided junior hunt at Grizzly Island. This free hunt takes place on an exclusive duck club in the Suisun Marsh and is fully guided. The guides are great with kids and can really show you what it is all about. It is a great way to start duck hunting.

Here is the web site for CWA - California Waterfowl Association
 

CODE3RUN

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Thanks for all the great info. I dont own any decoys or calls. So to start, do I just go to Big 5 or somewhere and purchase stamps and reservation cards??? I have a good idea of how the actual hunting is done I needed more info on stamps and how to get a blind to hunt?
 

Duck Fan

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socal duck hunting...

It is a GREAT sport and there are special junior only hunts available - so be sure to try those (adults don't hunt and the kids get to do all the shooting). I will start my 46th year hunting this Fall...Love it!


Since you are in socal - let me suggest these tips:



1. Wister refuge Imperial Wildlife area (on the Salton Sea) might be a good starting point for you. It offers a new socal hunter an opportunity to hunt without having to wander all night trying to find a spot. That is because the refuge is set up with blind sites, and once you select a spot - it is yours and no stumbling in the dark to find a spot.

There is a stake placed on the dike and you can hunt within 100 Yards (not feet) of that stake. Once you select your site, it is yours so there is no need to rush or worry about others crowding in on you. That is your spot.

At the check in station for the refuge, they have a map on a large board and each blind site is shown. Each site has a metal tag hanging from it. They call reservations in numeric order - if you have one. As you step up to select a blind, they will ask to see your reservation card (if you have one) and license and then you select a blind site and they give you the metal tag. You take that tag and licenses over to the window and the staff will issue the permits for that blind site. The permit will be marked with the site on it...and that is where you hunt. No one else gets that spot until you return to the station and turn in the permits. If you want, you can even change spots later in the day if you want by returning to the check station to select another available spot.

When looking at the Big map of blind sites at the check station, if there is a tag hanging next to the blind you want, then the blind is available to select. If you don't see a tag hanging there, then that blind was taken by someone ahead of you. They will put the tags onto the board sometime before the actual reservations are called up so if you got there early, you may see the board is empty because they have not placed the tags on it yet.

You hunt from the dikes and it is best to bring some cover with you or try to purchase some arrow weed cover from a trailer that is at the check station - if they have any. You can use it to build up a small 'fort' that you can hide behind. I have used camo tarps on stakes to set up a ground blind, and then used the arrow weed laying against it to break up the outline a bit.

2. License and stamps. You probably already know this but….you will need a Federal duck stamp and a CA state duck stamp, in addition to a HIP (Harvest Info Program) stamp. Juniors (15 and under do NOT require any stamps). The HIP stamp is available at the place where you buy your hunting license. Adults must sign their name across the face of the FEDERAL stamp only. You can purchase at sporting good stores (usually) or you can order from the CA Dept of Fish and Game (DFG) via mail.

3. Reservations are available for duck hunting areas, and you submit an application way ahead of the dates you want and 'maybe' you will get drawn. However, don't let the lack of a reservation card keep you from hunting. On the opening weekend it is tough to get on, but other than that, you can usually get on, especially if you are willing to hunt the afternoons. As others have said, You may want to hunt the afternoons first as well - just because it is easier to see what you are doing and get the 'lay of the land'.

Reservation System overview:
<!-- m -->http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/waterfo ... sinfo.html<!-- m -->

4. For Wister, you can use hip boots to put out decoys, but waist high waders are fine as well. It can be warm to hot at the start of the season down there. I would suggest Pintail, GW teal, and Widgeon, Gadwall and Spoonie decoys - plus snow goose decoys if you have. A few Mallard - and other decoys are fine too, but it may be best to start small and see how it goes. Bug spray is a must. Other refuges - you may want Chest waders.

Since you are new to this, I would suggest buying 12 Green wing teal decoys, a 6 pack of Shovelor (aka Spoonie) decoys, a 6 pack of Widgeon, a 6 pack of Pintail. As I said, start small and work up from there.
Best place to buy these is from Cabela's - im my opinion. To get started, I would look at the Greenhead Gear brand of decoys.

5. There is also a refuge called San Jacinto which is another opportunity for socal hunters and many guys will drive north to the central valley and hunt Kern or Mendota…. If you have plenty of time, a trip to the Sacramento Valley would be in order.

San Jacinto - socal:
<!-- m -->http://www.sjwa.info/<!-- m -->

Sac Valley (northern CA)
<!-- m -->http://www.fws.gov/sacramentovalleyrefuges/<!-- m -->

6. This web site has an OLD story, but the general info about hunting in socal is given in the article so check it out:

<!-- m -->http://www.californiagameandfish.com/hu ... A_1206_01/<!-- m -->

And another one:

<!-- m -->http://www.pe.com/sports/outdoors/stori ... 9bd66.html<!-- m -->


7. Fees and info about licenses:

<!-- m -->http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/hunting ... scrip.html<!-- m -->


8. Last year's guide to hunting in CA: lists all the areas

<!-- m -->http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/08-09 ... s-regs.pdf<!-- m -->

9. General info on Hunting in CA:

<!-- m -->http://www.dfg.ca.gov/about/hunting/<!-- m -->



The regulations for 1009-10 season will be determined on August 6th. Then we will know for sure when it starts (probably 10-17-09, maybe 10-24-09)


Good luck.


Lets me know if that helps.

Rick
 
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CODE3RUN

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Thanks Rick. Thats great information. DB 183 thanks for the offer re hunting with you guys. That would be great. My son only has a few pheasants to his name and has two deer tags this year so hopfully he has a good year.....
thanks again
 
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rajnerb

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Along with the federal and state stamps, don't forget the harvest stamp that also attaches to your license. You will get a fine if you have ducks and no harvest stamp.
 

zenhunter

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Going after it gets light is good advice until you get to know a refuge. Also, walking in the muddy pond bottoms takes some technique: lean forward a little, when stopped don't let your heals sink, and get some of those sleeping bag straps ($2/pair) at Big 5 and wrap them around your boots to keep the mud from pulling them off your foot. Get the LeMaster duck ID book [http://www.amazon.com/Waterfowl-Identification-Lemaster-Method-Richard/dp/0811729826] because you're limited to one or two with a few species and none at all with Canvasbacks. When you start out, it seems like you'll never be able to tell them apart in flight, but even after one season you'll have a lot of them figured out.
 

geober

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As others have said, it is addicting. If you are really interested, you should join California Waterfowl Association. I believe the cost is $35 for you and $15 for your son. They have 1 and 2 day clinics on shooting and waterfowl hunting for juniors (which you are welcome to attend with him). My wife and both of my daughters got their hunter's safety certificates through one of these camps, and the they have gone back for various clinics.

One of the best opportunities they offer is a guided junior hunt at Grizzly Island. This free hunt takes place on an exclusive duck club in the Suisun Marsh and is fully guided. The guides are great with kids and can really show you what it is all about. It is a great way to start duck hunting.

Here is the web site for CWA - California Waterfowl Association
Couldn't have said it better myself except it's only $25 for adults to join or most often included when you attend a CWA event. Our calendar is filled with events for all ages and levels, see California Waterfowl Association for program information.

Feel free to email me george_oberstadt@calwaterfowl.org or call 916-275-0961 if I can be of further assistance.
 

DukeMaster

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I can score you a few of my decoys if you want. I have too many anyway. let me know.
 

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