Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

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Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby Bmaybee » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:35 pm

Hey everyone, newbie here.

Don't worry I don't want any X marks the spots or inside secrets or what parking lot to hit. But I would like a little bit of guidance. I've never been out before, anywhere. I don't know what to expect. But here is what I plan:

-To NOT go opening weekend. I would like to avoid all of that drama. My first trip out will probably be late October.

-To reserve a spot online, show up whenever Friday night or early Saturday, and "walk the grounds" with my dog (also his first hunt). If we find a spot to hunker down or not, I don't care. If we get birds I don't care.

-To show up and just witness/experience the area. And hopefully by Sat night pick a spot to try Sunday morning.

-As a rookie I want to stay out of the way, keep my calls to myself and the empty (or hopefully bird occupied) air, and work my dog.

-Hopefully get a bird or two. This is the closest hunting area to where I live, I plan on many seasons there in the future, so I want to do it right.

That's it.

Now if anyone could throw me a bone, here or on PM about how to make my adventure more enjoyable or smooth that'd be great. But don't feel you need to drop secrets. Give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and you know the rest.
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby sutterduckhunter » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:59 pm

It sure sounds like you have the right idea! :welcome:
Just walk and sit, listen, see what you see. Watch out for Rattlesnakes, they are all over at Mendota. Good luck!
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby ditchbanker » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:04 pm

:welcome: Lots of views but no replies
...that's because the group here sees lots of these kind of posts


I didnt see your 1st post...but it is always good to introduce yourself and offer a little background...just say howdy.

Your plans seem like a good aware that you cannot simply 'reserve a spot' enter a lottery...maybe you will get lucky.
Spend a little time reading up on this forum and on the DFG website...just to get more familiar with things
If you do plan to wander around and work your dog, careful/respectful of guys hunting while you are doing that...if you are walking around on the levees when birds are working you wont be making friends.

Do a little more research and come back on here and ask more SPECIFIC questions...I imagine you will get lots of insights.
Good Luck :biggrin:
"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." - Will Rogers
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby benelliboy » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:09 pm

I hunted Mendota for 15 yrs.

If I were you;

Don't take the dog on the first trip. Seriously

Grab a bike and ride through the different parking lots with maps in hand. Afternoons are great for this. The sun is out and you can see everything. No sense going in the dark. You don't know where your going.

Pay attention to where the birds are landing.

You can cover so much more ground this way. Your first trip is a burned trip anyway. Its a very big refuge to scout.

By the way there are two lines to park in when arriving prior to your hunt date. Left side is Reservations, Far right is Sweat-line. Both are first come first serve and your reservation number means nothing there.

Good luck this season and hope this helps


Jump shoot and walk the levees. Hope your in good shape and watch out for skunks and your dog.
Dont call so damn much, and let the birds work
For christ sakes!
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby Run&Gun » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:46 am

Rookie Waterfowler :welcome: to the Forum,

PM Sent
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby bowman13 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:14 pm

Welcome to refuge waterfowl hunting! A lot of people badmouth the refuge system as being overcrowded and having crappy shoots, but doing some homework on the area you want to focus on can really raise the bar of success. Here are some pointers I have learned over the past couple years that have helped me bag a couple ducks here and there.
1. Focus on a refuge at a time. It sounds like you want to focus on Mendota, which should be a great place to start learning the refuge system. Focus on that refuge and learn what you can about it, then move to other refuges. Learn the weather patterns, wind patterns and hunter patterns that affect the way ducks act.
2. Travel light the first couple times, no need for a huge spread if your not sure the area you will be hunting would be suited for a large spread. More decoys does not always equal success.
3. Walk on in the mid morning or afternoon, its quite and easy to find your way around the refuge. Also can be a good time to bag the late morning mallard that avoids the early morning shooters!
4. Never expect anything. This comes directly from ecperience. Last season I had a great pick at a great refuge and expected a great shoot, and returned with one hen spoony. The next week I went to a "poor" refuge, got a poor number, and shot my limit of ducks, wigeon and sprig. You never know whats going to happen I guess, but it still helps to study and do your homework (sounds like one of my college professors).

That's about all I know. I have a lot more to learn myself, but I hope this info can help you out someway on your next duck hunt. It never hurts to start a conversation with a local refuge rat, you would be surprised on how friendly some people can be with helping you out once they know your out there doing what their doing. Good luck!
"Ducks are like women; they are all good, just some are better than others."-Best 8:00am duck blind quote I have ever heard.
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby Bmaybee » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:28 pm

How does the sweat line work? I'm goin to show up Saturday and walk around, then pull out if there and get back in line for Sunday. But then what do I do? Sit in my car all night? Or am I allowed to camp out in tent city?
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby matt-greene » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:35 pm

When you come out of the refuge on Saturday, you put your rig in line . You can then go pitch a tent or jump in a trailer. Good luck out there as it is very slow right now. Low water with several areas not even flooded yet.
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby OffiSur » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:47 am


The few times I have been out have all been to Mendota.

I have learned a few things:

1) The dollar-and-change resi will get you in quicker than the sweat line. I've never not gotten a resi draw for a day I put in for at Mendota. There are "two" lines in front of the entrance station the day before your hunt, however, the left is really two lines of resi holders. The right side line is the sweat line, in which you are all but guaranteed to get in, just not as quickly as the resi holders. As soon as the first-come-first-served resi line is done with, all the sweat line folks are admitted. Sleep in your vehicle the night before. An alarm clock is optional as you will be woken up by the sounds of everyone's engines firing up an hour before the entrance station opens. That isn't a bad thing because you'll have ample time for a tailgate breakfast. If you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs... Some drunk knuckle heads always seem to run a generator well into the wee hours of the morning.

2) Mendota is huge. Observe where the birds come from, and where the birds go, the first thing in the morning (duh). The past few times I've gone, and this may be an obvious statement to most, the main action is done within the first two to three hours of the day. I tried scouting this past Wednesday and the skies were clear by 10 am. Where all those birds came from and where they went, well, I have an inkling of an idea. I will find out for sure though with more experience, just like you'd ought to try to do. Also, this WLA is a big one... I'm going back with a bike next time. The roads are dry, clear and mostly empty around noon. You could walk it for days, but you'll cover more ground quicker with wheels.

3) I noticed this week, to my dismay, that the place isn't entirely flooded yet. The pond I've hunted in the past was bone dry. The entrance station has a map of the flooded/dry areas and that is worth snapping a photo of.

4) Speaking of the entrance station, the folks that work there are helpful... To a point. They move an awful lot of folks through the area in a short amount of time. If you have a question or two, they'll help you out. Just don't expect more than three minutes of their attention or they'll usher you along. I'm talking about three minutes of their attention after everyone has been checked in for the morning. Don't be that guy that makes everyone behind you in line wait the first thing in the morning. Good Lord, you'll incite a riot and you'll certainly not get the help you seek from the station attendants.

5) Once you figure a basic game plan out, bring your gear in by sled/cart. Again, the place is huge and the distances from the parking lots to the happy hunting grounds can be long. Work smarter, not harder. I don't carry a lot, but a few decoys in a sled/cart feel a helluva lot better on my shoulders after that first mile than a few decoys on my back... Especially in a pond's slippery, sucking mud.

6) Most of all, a vast majority of folks out there are good folks who will help a fellow out. Show others the same consideration you'd expect from them. Some dirtbags will pick a fight over who has the right to a coveted spot. To Hell with them. I've had good talks with almost everyone I've met out there. Don't hog anyone's time or space, and always be respectful. You'll glean some good nuggets of info from the real sportsmen.

From your first post it seems to me like you have the proper mindset to look, listen, and learn. I'm in nearly the same boat as you, except I've been there a half dozen times now. I wish you the best of luck, my friend. Let me know if there is anything I might help you with.
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby wanapasaki » Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:21 am

My advice is: Go to the South and Southeast parts of the refuge..... Send me a message if you go, but I'd like to get a few more weeks into the migration before I head up there. Let me know :hammer:
Give a man a duck... Feed him for a day... Teach him to fowl hunt... Feed him for a lifetime...Teach him in your spot... Learn to hunt a different spot....
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby Bmaybee » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:09 pm

I went yesterday, just to go.

Since it was pitch black, I just picked a lot on the southwest side. Looked like there were 4-5 trucks per lot in each lot. It was hard to make sure I wasn't near anyone's spot, because once those guys get on their bikes and go, they're well hidden before I walk up. But I did it and was well clear of any other shooters.

Didn't matter, there really weren't too many birds.

After that I drove around and walked a few lots.

Never went to the east side, but after a completely bird less, hot, mosquito infested afternoon as I was driving out I looked east and there were actually a flock or two flying over there.

I never know who to trust, I figure guys telling me a place is dead or dry are telling me because they don't want me to go there, and If a guy tells me a place is good, it's because it isn't. :)
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby AJCsurf » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:17 pm

Bmaybee wrote:I never know who to trust, I figure guys telling me a place is dead or dry are telling me because they don't want me to go there, and If a guy tells me a place is good, it's because it isn't. :)

Well you already figured this out so you're ahead of half the people lurking on here.

The duck hunting has been great everywhere! :lol3:
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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby PaulyQuackers » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:22 pm

I agree, Bmaybee, most people, for good reason, will steer you away from their favorite hunting spot, so when asking, you'll have to take their answer with a grain of salt. I've hunted in Michigan every year since I was little, yet was very weary to divulge my secrets to just anyone, but always willing to provide clarification on hunting a particular area.

I've never hunted in California, even though I've lived in Fresno for10 yrs, because I'm used to getting up at 4:00am to enter a draw at 5:30am, and don't care to spend the night outdoors, just to get a good spot. Where I'm from, everyone had an equal opportunity to get a good draw, as long as you entered before the drawing started, but if you got a bad draw, you just went back home to bed, or you could wait for the afternoon draw to watch and listen where the shooting is coming from.

I'm just not confident enough with the info online, and don't personally know anyone who hunts Mendota, to try it. I have driven around the place to scout, and it does look like a good place to hunt, even if you're just sitting there sipping on a cup of coffee.

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Re: Rookie Waterfowler/Mendota 2013-14

Postby matt-greene » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:23 am

Bmaybee wrote:I never know who to trust, I figure guys telling me a place is dead or dry are telling me because they don't want me to go there, and If a guy tells me a place is good, it's because it isn't. :)

And next time those guys that tried to help you and tell you it was slow and dry won't because no one listens anyway.

I guess a simple solution would be to look at the online hunt results which showed a very poor opener and following two days.
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