Doves, grouse and youth weekend opportunities highlight some of late September’s best hunting around Washington.
Here’s more from around the Evergreen State, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:
NORTH PUGET SOUND
Pheasant hunters should note that the department will release pheasants this fall at the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Samish Unit rather than the Headquarters Unit, where a substantial portion of land is no longer suitable for pheasant hunting. WDFW is temporarily moving its pheasant release program to the Samish Unit because an estuary restoration project has returned portions of recreational land on the Headquarters Unit to intertidal habitat for fish and wildlife.
“This is a stopgap solution for this year to address the loss of suitable pheasant release sites at Headquarters,” said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW. “We will continue to work toward securing alternative sites in the region where we can permanently relocate our pheasant release operations.” Pheasants will be released several days a week on the Samish Unit from Sept. 25 to Nov. 7.
Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide two-day season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.
About 1,200 rooster pheasants will be released on a couple dozen sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season. Pheasants will be released at several Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sherman Creek in Ferry County; Fishtrap Lake on the Lincoln-Spokane county line; John Henley in Whitman County; Willow Bar and Rice Bar in Garfield County; Hartsock in Columbia County; Chief Timothy in Asotin County; and Mill Creek, Wallula, Two Rivers Peninsula, Hollebeke and Lost Island in Walla Walla County. For information about these sites see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm or call the WDFW Eastern Regional Office at 509-892-1001. Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites, mostly in the south half of the region, found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .
“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist Joey McCanna. “After several pilot brood surveys north of the Snake River, pheasant broods appear to be up from previous years. We’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”
Wild turkey early fall general season (no special permit required) hunting is open Sept. 26-Oct. 9 in northeast and central district units in the region. Dana Base, WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist, said numerous “casual” observations of large turkey broods over the summer suggest this should be a good season. Special permit turkey hunting gets under way at the same time in southeast district units in the region where turkey numbers are also relatively good.
Rich Finger, WDFW Columbia Basin district wildlife biologist from Moses Lake, says the basin is still holding a good number of doves , and depending on the weather, hunting could remain productive through the end of the season Sept. 30.
“Some dove hunters are having success around food plots planted by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the southeast corner of Section Four in the Gloyd Seeps area,” he said. “Hunters can also have success by focusing efforts on roost sites during the evening or harvested wheat fields during mornings and evenings.”
Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.
Mikal Moore, WDFW waterfowl specialist from Moses Lake, suggests youth waterfowl hunters take time now to scout out hunting spots for that special opportunity. “There are some good concentrations of mallards, northern pintail , and American green-winged teal throughout the state right now, particularly in the Columbia Basin and the Skagit,” she said. “White-fronted geese are also passing through.”
Moore recommends young hunters and their mentors brush up on duck identification, (see ‘Ducks at a Distance’ by Robert Hines, available on the Internet at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckdist/index.htm ), and review the species bag limits in the waterfowl pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm .
“Keep in mind that early season ducks have not achieved their breeding plumage yet and many drakes will have female-type coloration,” she said. “Also remember to report any banded ducks or geese you harvest by calling 1-800-327-BAND or reporting online at http://www.reportband.gov . The band is yours to keep and you will receive a certificate detailing the age, sex, and banding location of the bird.”
Finger noted that in preparation for the youth hunt, WDFW will fill the northwest cell of the Winchester Regulated Access Area (WRAA) with water, starting the week of Sept. 21. “Our ability to completely fill the basin will depend on the water level in the Winchester Wasteway,” Finger said, “At full pool the non-reserve huntable portion is about 10 acres and can support two to three groups of hunters.”
Such management efforts and assistance by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the Regulated Access Areas have resulted in an increase in smartweed, millet, and other moist-soil vegetation preferred by dabbling ducks, Finger noted.
“We expect this area to attract large numbers of waterfowl this year,” he said. The Frenchmen Regulated Access Area will not be flooded for the youth hunt because of ongoing management activities, but water will be released prior to the October general season opener. “Desirable, moist-soil vegetation is increasing in this unit but it is not yet producing the abundance of forage resources that the Winchester area is producing,” Finger said. “The Gloyd Seeps area was not farmed this year but will be flooded in preparation for the October opener, as it has been in past years.”
Finger recommends that hunters contact the WDFW North Central Regional office in Ephrata (509) 754-4624) or see the Migratory Waterfowl rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm for Regulated Access Area locations and restrictions.
About 1,000 rooster pheasants will be released on sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sinlahekin and Chiliwist in Okanogan County, Chelan Butte and Swakane in Chelan County, and Banks Lake, Steamboat Rock, Gloyd Seeps, Quincy, Warden and Lower Crab Creek in Grant County.
For information about these sites, call WDFW’s North Central Regional Office at (509) 754-4624, or see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm . Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .
“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said Joey McCanna, WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist. “Biologists are reporting good pheasant broods in the Columbia Basin, so we’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”
Scott Fitkin, WDFW Okanogan District wildlife biologist from Winthrop, says forest grouse hunting should be fairly good in the Okanogan District based on the abundance of broods noted in the spring and early summer. Blue grouse in particular seem to be in good numbers and are now moving to higher elevations. Berry fields, meadow edges and forested ridges are good places to look, Fitkin says.
Higher elevations are also a good bet for early archery deer hunters. “Despite a meager snow pack, mild temperatures and summer rains have kept many high elevation meadows greener longer this year,” Fitkin said.
Dove hunting is reportedly excellent in the south end of the Columbia Basin around the Tri-Cities and could remain productive if warm weather holds birds in the area through the season’s end Sept. 30.
Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.
About 700 rooster pheasants will be released on several sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Colockum, Millerguard and Cottonwoods on Wenas/L.T. Murray in Kittitas County, Sunnyside in Yakima County, Big Flat and Ringold in Franklin County, and Hill Road in Klickitat County. For information about and maps of these sites, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm or call WDFW’s South Central Regional Office at (509) 575-2740.