Even though the howling winds arrived a few days too late, last weekend's waterfowl hunting opener didn't completely disappoint.
Despite warm weather and dry conditions, few hunters at public wildlife areas and private duck clubs left unhappy.
"From the 15 or 16 hunters I talked to, everyone had a pretty good opener," said Jeff Carroll, chairman of the California Waterfowl Association's Fresno-Clovis chapter. "Even my 83-year-old father had a limit on opening day."
For hunters who made it out Wednesday, the conditions were even better thanks to strong winds that hampered the birds' ability to escape.
"[Wednesday] was a phenomenal day," Carroll said. "The wind volume was so high that it turned into one of the better hunting days we'll see all year."
At 11,802-acre Mendota Wildlife Area, the 704 hunters who shot Saturday took home an average of 4.85 birds, according to the Department of Fish and Game. Green-winged teal, shovelers and mallards were the most common. Sunday, the average dipped to 1.88 birds for 292 hunters.
Those figures compare favorably to last year's opening weekend, when hunters averaged 3.40 birds Saturday and 1.25 Sunday.
As an added bonus, hunters shot 26 geese on opening weekend, the largest figure in recent memory.
At the Los Banos/North Grasslands Complex, Volta Wildlife Area had the best results with 193 hunters averaging 4.10 birds Saturday and 3.05 Sunday.
Waterfowl season ends Jan. 31, followed by two junior hunt days Feb. 6-7. Daily bag limits are seven birds per hunter, including no more than two female mallards, two pintails, one canvasback, two redheads and three scaup.
California Waterfowl is hosting its annual Fresno-Clovis dinner Nov. 12 at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds.
Tickets are $70 for adults and $100 per couple.
Details: (559) 285-7881.