THE FOLKS at Dodge Ridge had been saying "think snow" for weeks, and it finally happened. The resort above Pinecrest went form practically no snow last week to more than enough to open.

Who knows how deep it will be. From a skier and snowboarder's standpoint, the deeper the better.

The quick change in the weather pattern has also helped the waterfowl hunters, and it was well overdue since 23 days of the season already have gone my most of which were "bluebird" days.

Last Saturday, hunters finally got a taste of "duck weather." I joined member Bill Davidson at the Santa Fe Club near Gustine, and when we arrived about noon, most of the other shooters already had left with their limits. When we headed out to a blind, it was exhilarating to feel a 35-mph south wind intermingled with occasional stinging rain.

We even noticed the excitement in Bill's dog, Rosie, as she bounded out to the blind, anxious to get in some retrieving work. Rosie got a real workout, making 10 retrieves some of which were difficult as she had to fight against wind and waves.

It was the kind of day waterfowlers hope for, but the kind that are not common.

The results at public shooting areas in the Grasslands reflected the increase in success as new migratory birds had moved in ahead of the storms. The best average came from San Luis Refuge with 2.85 birds per hunter. The North and South Freitas unites had 2.44, Merced 2.43, Kesterson 2.41 and Salt Slough 18.1, while the lowest average of 1.04 was at Volta.

By Wednesday, most of the birds had moved out, but a predicted series of storms should continue to improve the hunting and get more shooters into the field as the season continues through Jan. 26.

The Union Democrat
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