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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everybody,

Hope everyone had a great season.

I'm an experienced upland & deer hunter but would like to get into waterfowl hunting. Next season I'd like to try my hand at hunting the refuges in southern California. I've read through many pages of the forums here and would like to get a little instruction on what to expect. I understand that I'd need to apply and hope I get a reservation but after that I'm pretty much blanked. Can anyone explain to me what a typical refuge day goes like or point me in the direction of some reading materials that would help? Any advise is appreciated.
 

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You don't need reservations to hunt...they help but are not a necessity. Sweat lines, lotteries etc. Get out for a couple afternoons early season and walk, scout, glass etc. Once you start plan to be hooked for life... :welcome:
 

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Porkrind said:
I understand that I'd need to apply and hope I get a reservation but after that I'm pretty much blanked.
First welcome to DHC and duck hunting.

Second, I don't know the SoCal refuges at all to give any ideas.

Third, you are in error- you only need to have your CA license, state stamp, federal stamp and either a 1-day, 2-day, or season-long (best buy) pass to get into the refuges. While applying for reservations ahead of time, or lotteries the night before (the rules vary refuge to refuge, some like Grey Lodge up north do not have a lottery, only reservations and the 'sweat line', will get you an earlier entry, on most shoot days other than opening and closing w/e, you can get into the refuges (no promises, please don't curse me if you don't).

I think if you readup on past threads here, you can get an idea. Lots of great hunting, waterfowl management and food sources for the ducks, and yes, some jacka$$s. Don't worry about the JAs, plan on going and having fun.
 

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Porkrind said:
or point me in the direction of some reading materials that would help? Any advise is appreciated.
Ducks.org is the ducks unlimited website. They have a hunting section with tips and tactics! Also, start watching videos and learning how to call... Primos has a good DVD on "How to Call Waterfowl." Also, check out buck gardner's DVD's! Very informative!

This past season was my first EVER attempt at hunting waterfowl and I can officiaclly say that I am hooked for the rest of my life... addicted to say the least! I hope you're ready! :wink:
 

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Porkrind said:
Can anyone explain to me what a typical refuge day goes like
For a newbie a typical day might go something like this:
1. Wander around in the dark having no clue where you are going even with the refuge map
2. Get the crap shined out of your eyes during flashlight wars
3. Finally find a place to set up only to realize someone is less than 50 yards away from you when it gets light.
4. Get into a verbal altercation with said hunter
5. Continue hunting and maybe bag a duck or two
6. Drive around frustrated and either A) Leave or B) Suddenly see birds working....if B) then #7 usually follows.
7. Get out, reset the dekes, and bang a few more birds :hammer:
 

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done south all of the hunting areas are blinded or ponded (wister and san jac.) in so cal there no free roams that i know of. if you are in so cal id learn wister and the surrounding areas! pm me if you want and i can point you in the right direction.
 

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Oh :oops:

Well that would make it easier, right? Just check blind averages and maybe do some scouting (or get some advice from helpful guys on this site) as to which blinds/assigned ponds shoot better in what weather conditions and time of year.

The only refuge by me within reasonable driving distance is all blinded (and not in the reservation system). We just check blind averages, and through years of hunting have figured out (as well as every other hunter in the region!) which blinds shoot best depending on what time of the season.

I think that will make it a better experience for you (the blinded/assigned pond refuges). Many hunters get turned off by all the crap on free roam refuges. This way you'll most likely have a positive first experience and be hooked for life like all us addicts! :thumbsup:

After you're hooked you can expand your refuge hunting and go duke it out with all the other free-roamers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies, folks! I'm not looking to get anybody's honey holes (really, I'm not, showing up with my hand out is a pet peeve of mine). The whole idea of Wister & San J are a little confusing (intimidating?) to somebody that has never done it before. Like how to find a blind in the dark, how to choose a blind, when to show up for draws, etc. I'm going to sign up for the waterfowl clinic that the DFG is offering so i'm hoping that will help.

I've done a search through the site and gotten lots of new guy info that will surely help and I APPRECIATE IT!

Thanks again, :thumbsup:
 

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Porkrind said:
Like how to find a blind in the dark, how to choose a blind, when to show up for draws, etc. I'm going to sign up for the waterfowl clinic that the DFG is offering so i'm hoping that will help.
Like how to find a blind in the dark,
=> Blinds are well marked from the assigned parking lot. Buy a good headlamp, I recommend the Petzl Myo with LEDs and a halogen bulb, but there are many options.

=> For free roam hunts, get there mid-morning on a Saturday and talk to the guys at the checkstation, get a refuge map, take you shotgun and go for a long walk- you never know what you'll jump shoot. Best way to learn the refuge. Then you'll know the correlation between the map and the refuge, since everything looks different in the dark and fog before shoot time.

how to choose a blind,
=> Look the the day and the week prior's averages, and pick accordingly. I hunt free roam all the time, sitting in a blind and not being able to move is not high on my list, but guys do it.

when to show up for draws, etc.
=> Checkstation will be able to tell you that. Get there at 6 pm the night before the hunt, and you can't go wrong.

Post your other questions :welcome: to refuge hunting
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Bill. :thumbsup:

What do you take to the blind in a typical day?

How far from parking to the blind?

How long does shooting last - mornings only, all day, morning-lull-afternoon?

How many people can go to one blind or maybe better put, how small or big can your party be?

edited to ask, how deep is the water on the refuges? I mean, I'm assuming I need waders but how badly?
 

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What do you take to the blind in a typical day?
- 25 shells max if that's the refuge's rule
- Food and something to drink
- Camo clothes and face mask
- Knife to cut tules/ cattails FAR AWAY FROM THE BLIND if you need to brush it in. Check individual refuge's rules. They vary refuge to refuge (posted in the rear of the DFG Waterfowl Regs book by individual refuge.)

How far from parking to the blind?
- Varies refuge to refuge, blind to blind. Guess 15-45 minutes walk

How long does shooting last - mornings only, all day, morning-lull-afternoon?
- You can be there all day with a blind assignment
- Most shooting is at beginning and end
- Ducks will fly all day long

How many people can go to one blind or maybe better put, how small or big can your party be?
- Varies with the refuge, but generally 2 shooters (there are some exceptions)

edited to ask, how deep is the water on the refuges? I mean, I'm assuming I need waders but how badly?
- Yes you need waders. Many times it's calf-knee high, and then some areas with permanent water can dunk you over your head (not common). In CA, buy light weight waders, you can always put thermals underneath when it gets cold in Dec/Jan, but you can't make them cooler when sweating your butt off in Oct and Nov. For early season, the Under Armor heat gear T shirts are worth every penny they charge, start looking around and you may find them on sale. Buy 2+ sizes bigger than you normally wear, they're designed to fit tight which I hate.
 

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As for wader boots, I'm a 10 1/2. Referring to 1000 Gram Insulated Boots: 10s are too small, 11's are a little loose. Seems like wader boot sizes are spot on for me :thumbsup: Too bad they don't make 1/2 sizes!

Then again, there's always stockingfoot waders...:huh:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You guys are alright. :cheers: I do have stockingfoot waders with boots that I use for flyfishing in mammoth, would that suffice?

I've heard of Wister mud nightmares. Is it really that bad? How do you retrieve your ducks & decoys? I won't have a dog, at least until I'm hooked and I can persuade my wife.
 

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the stocking waders will work, there thiner than neoprene
but will work. if you wading shoes have felt bottoms, then
just go to wal-mart and get a cheap pair of hiking boots-14.00
I have had mine all season and they work great....
other things to carry to the blind... get a walking stick...
you can make a one out of 1"pvc w/caps glued on the ends
then just throw some rattle can green/brn paint. these will
come in handy when your foot gets stuck and you need a
3rd foot for balance... and look into making a tule stool...
that can be cut out of a 2x4 easy enough. this is a must in
most areas as you will be knee deep allot of the times...

for someone who doesn't know an area, and you didn't get
a resi. I say don't show up till like 7am and get out at 1st light.
that way you find an area you like and set up and then next
time you come back you will know where to go.
if you have a resi.... invite someone in the sweatline maybe
as they may know which blind to pick and how to get there.
you never know they may be a great caller and help get you
a limit of birds for that day....

a decoy bag w/few decoys is all thats needed to start..
shoot ducks within range. and they will be dead on the water.
just cause you get a dog doesn't mean your retrieves are any
easier, it takes allot of off season practice to make a good retriever.
 

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welcome and glad to hear you want to hunt ducks. It is a great sport, especially for friends to get together and hunt together......

Some things I have posted before that may help...and feel free to PM me with your phone number and I can call you if you would like to talk live.

a couple of things:

1. I would suggest hunting Wister as your first choice (more available blind sites to try out). There are other locations such as San Jacinto...and even a drive to Kern would be in order, but Wister might be a good starting point for you. It offers a new 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 Wister, 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 ressies in numeric order. As you step up to select a blind, they will ask to see your ressie 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 ressies 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.

There is a catering truck next to the check station. If you need some food, coffee, or even hunting supplies, he might just have what you need - if you forgot anything.

You hunt from the dikes and it is best to bring some cover with you or try to purchase some arrow weed from the catering trailer - if he has 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 will need a Federal duck stamp and a CA state duck stamp, in addition to a HIP (Harvest Info Program) stamp. The Hip stamp is available at the place where you buy your hunting license. You must sign your name across the face of the FEDERAL stamp only. Do this before you go to the check station.

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. 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'.

4. You can only use Steel shot - no lead.

5. You will want waders, dekes, flashlights, bug spray, camo clothing and hat, shotgun, etc - all the basics. But, again, if you want more info, let me know

Good luck and let me know if I can answer any other questions - feel free to send me a private message if preferred.
 

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Regarding waders, my 2 suggestions are to purchase from Cabelas since they'll take them back and exchange them (or give credit to a new pair) when the eventually leak (all waders IMHO eventually leak) or start to smell so bad from human-odor hunting and sweating. Second is get them a little large if you are a 1/2 size. This season I tried wearing calf-high hiking socks, and smartwood socks over those, and the difference in comfort when walking was worth mentioning.

Search 'waders' at cabelas.com. They have customer reviews included with the products so you can read about them. And they have a $4.95 shipping promotion in effect until 2/22.
 

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Quack Addict said:
Porkrind said:
Can anyone explain to me what a typical refuge day goes like
For a newbie a typical day might go something like this:
1. Wander around in the dark having no clue where you are going even with the refuge map
2. Get the crap shined out of your eyes during flashlight wars
3. Finally find a place to set up only to realize someone is less than 50 yards away from you when it gets light.
4. Get into a verbal altercation with said hunter
5. Continue hunting and maybe bag a duck or two
6. Drive around frustrated and either A) Leave or B) Suddenly see birds working....if B) then #7 usually follows.
7. Get out, reset the dekes, and bang a few more birds :hammer:

:yes: Hey that about covers it LOL !!
 
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