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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Migration Alert: Cold weather may improve California waterfowl hunting

Nov. 16 – Pacific Flyway - California
  • photo by Michaelfurtman.com
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By Chris Hildebrandt, DU biologist

The San Joaquin Valley has been plagued with warm weather in late October and early November and waterfowl hunting has been slow since the opener. 

Several public hunting areas in the Los Banos area, West and East Bear Creek, Lonetree Unit at Merced National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) open Nov. 17 and hunting should be excellent at those locations.  The mild weather pushed waterfowl into an easy lifestyle of resting on the closed areas.  However, colder weather setting in should force the birds to get out and feed more often, putting them in front of more hunters

Hunting at Mendota Wildlife Area (WA) has been slow as no new birds have moved into the area, yet, recent cold weather should improve hunting here for the week of Thanksgiving. 

Down at the south end of the Central Valley, Kern NWR hunting has been steady, averaging about 3 birds per hunter, and they are steadily adding more hunt area as more wetlands are being flooded.

Southern California waterfowl numbers are healthy, and shooting at the Prado Basin has been good, with one club in the area shooting near limits the last few hunts with mostly big ducks, especially northern pintail.

Further south, San Jacinto WA has been relatively slow, with no new birds seen in the area for several weeks. 

Waterfowl hunting in the Salton Sea area has been strong with Wister, Imperial WA, showing strong daily averages for Wednesday and Saturday hunting.  Geese have also started to show up in the area with both Wister and Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR harvesting good numbers of geese recently.

Find hunting and migration reports in your area on the Ducks Unlimited Migration Map.

Chris Hildebrandt is the Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist for California's San Joaquin valley, southern California and parts of Arizona. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University and has been with the organization for 15 years.


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