It sucks to be a duck hunter in So. California


Unless you are rich and can afford a private club, you have 3 options - SJ, Kern, and Wister. SJ and Kern are very difficult to get drawn for a reservation. And, I would rather set myself on fire than sweatline at San Jacinto. So, Wister is the only real option if you want to hunt frequently. Sweatlining is not too bad. But, if you do the math, the season at Wister is really only 4-6 weeks max. It doesn't get good until December and is usually dead by mid January. If you factor in the slow death of the Salton Sea, things will only get worse as the years go by. Not to mention the poor management of Wister as a whole.

If you are a hunter in So. Commiefornia, life sucks.

I need to Shawshank out of this place.


Best part of being in a club, 48 scheduled hunt days, not including weather days like this Thursday. Part of the club is the pot lucks and party... The birds sure aren't thick right now.


Believe it or not, I'm not in a bad mood. It is just the sober realization that there are very real and tangible things that will always keep duck hunting as a extremely minor part of my life unless I move from this God forsaken hell hole.


I got ya. We are a special breed putting up with staring at blank sky and competing for positions for shitty habitat.


Comedian in training, at least on the internet
Does San Diego City lakes still have a waterfowl hunt program?


Well-Known Member
As a hunter that grew up in SoCal (San Fernando Valley), i agree 100 percent that it was tough.

Back in the 60’s, our option was really just Wister. Kern finally opened up and that gave us another option. It was wide open early on and never an issue getting on. That changed of course but still became our closest refuge.

We hunted Kern and Wister pretty hard, and added Mendota to the list as well.

Back then without as many highway options as now, it took about 4 hours to get to Wister or Mendota. We found that Mendota allowed hundreds (600 I believe) of hunters on and we went there knowing we could get on.

Made a weekend of it now and then.

Now, Living in NorCal, there are many more options for sure. But if I still lived in SoCal, I would likely be:

1. Praying for a ressie at Wister or Kern.
2. Planning more Sat/Sun combo day hunts.
3. Taking 1/2 day vacation days on as many Friday’s as possible, to get to refuges Friday evenings - versus arriving at 2 am.
4. Plan several central CA trips per season
5. Probably add in 1 or 2 guided hunts in NorCal based on cost. There are even some unguided hunts available which are more cost friendly.

I hunted as much as I could ‘back in the day’ and now as a retired guy, I definitely hunt more. But I wish I could tell my younger self to have used every option available.

And I would definitely tell myself to slow down, get out as often as possible regardless of the miles put on to get there. If I could only hunt a couple of times a season, I’d try to get the most out of them. Quality versus quantity.

And my definition of quality would include so much more than what was in the ‘bag’. Not sure I understood that as well as I do now.

I always applaud the SoCal hunters. I bring this area up to others as the epitome of a dedicated hunter.

Desert hunting is something special.... as well as frustrating.

I know what it takes, and my hats off to you guys! Keep at it. Stay involved with conservations groups (CWA, DU), and make your voices heard. I know I try to every chance I get.

Merry Christmas! And best of luck the rest of the way....


Well-Known Member
Living in SD for many of my 30+ years of duck hunting, we had Wister, the Salton Sea, SD City Lakes (Barrett, Otay and Sutherland), Henshaw, or the Colorado River (Cibola or Imperial NWRs). I have many good memories from them all, my avatar pic is from the river.
Now living in Nor Cal, lots of public opportunity, but I'm old and lazy, and I'm a ricer now. Good days and bad days, but enough good days to keep that fire burning. Prior to my move North I got tired of Wister, hunts just weren't as fun, always seemed to be surrounded by knuckleheads. The River was fun, but a 175 mile drive to go hunting. I do feel for you So Cal hunters!
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It's the price we pay for living in sunny SoCal. We live in one of the most populated areas of the state so the competition will always be there.