Tag Archives: ducks

Water Flowing Again Into A Top Public Basin Duck Hunting Area

A popular and productive public-land Columbia Basin duck hunting area is filling up with water for the first time in several years, good news as the best part of the waterfowl season arrives.

WATER FLOWS INTO PONDS AT THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA EARLIER THIS WEEK. (BRIAN HECK, DUCKS UNLIMITED)

The recently completed project at WDFW’s Winchester Regulated Access Area unclogged an inlet from the nearby wasteway west of Potholes Reservoir and water is now flowing into the ponds there.

(CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

“This will be the first time in three or four years that we’ll have a good amount of water,” says the agency’s Sean Dougherty in Ephrata.

The area opened in the early 2000s and provided good hunting but gradually the channel that fed water into the ponds silted up, and during 2016’s opener it was completely dry.

(BRIAN HECK, DUCKS UNLIMITED)

Dougherty says that funds were secured last year, including from state duck stamp moneys, to fix the problem.

After coordinating with the Bureau of Reclamation and the local irrigation district and with help from Ducks Unlimited, which provided “technical support and project management,” he says, water has begun flowing in again.

The area primarily attracts mallards as well as other puddlers as the migration and season goes on, but some geese fly in as well, and access is first come, first served.

“It’s really competitive to get a spot,” says Dougherty. “I would encourage you to be there at 4 a.m.”

That’s when vehicles can begin parking here, and the first five parties of up to four hunters each head out to set up their decoy spreads.

FLOODING IN CELL, OR POND, A. (CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

The area is only open Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, with the other days off limits to rest the birds.

It’s also next to a game reserve, which helps keep ducks in the area too.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS CURRENT PARKING AND BLIND LOCATIONS FOR THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA. (WDFW)

Dougherty doesn’t want to make any promises about how many greenheads you might down if you set up here, but says it’s one of the best public hunts, with an average of three ducks a gun in the past.

And with more water here this fall, the ponds might also remain as open water longer, though with their shallow depths, ambitious hunters can still bust through the ice later on.

DUCKS SIT ON A POND AT THE WINCHESTER REGULATED ACCESS AREA. (CHAD EIDSON, WDFW)

Editor’s note: This blog initially contained an outdated WDFW map of access to the Winchester Regulated Access Area. It has subsequently been updated with a new one from regional lands manager Rich Finger. Also, blinds are not assigned and the area is free roam.

Coquille Valley W.A. Reopening In Stages In Time For Waterfowl Season

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Coquille Valley Wildlife Area reopens in stages to public use in time for waterfowl season.

AN AERIAL IMAGE SHOWS NEW CHANNELS FOR FISH HABITAT CREATED AT WINTER LAKE, PART OF THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE’S COQUILLE VALLEY WILDLIFE AREA. (CBI CONTRACTING VIA NMFS)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will reopen the Beaver Slough tract October 13 and the Winter Lake tract October 20. Both tracts make up the 660-acre wildlife area and have been closed since June 1 for habitat restoration activities including tidal channel construction.

“Waterfowl season begins October 13, so we’re pleased we can reopen the Beaver Slough tract for duck and goose hunters,” said Stuart Love, Charleston District Wildlife Biologist. “The Winter Lake tract opens a week later so we can make sure the new tide gate system that will start flooding that portion of the wildlife area is functioning properly.”

Hunters should be aware the new tidal channels constructed on the Winter Lake tract will have varying levels of water according to tidal influence. Steep sides and water could make it difficult to get out of the channels, and ODFW advises hunters to wear a personal flotation around the tidal channels.

Hunters should also know some aspects of the Winter Lake restoration project are continuing into the fall and can expect to see staff planting vegetation and conducting project monitoring. Other recreationists may also be on the wildlife area.

The wildlife area can be accessed from North Bank Lane off Highway 42. An access permit is required and can be obtained at no cost at the information kiosk in the wildlife area’s parking lot on North Bank Lane.

 

Washington 2017 Deer, Elk, Bird Hunting Prospects Out

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

With hunting seasons for deer, elk, waterfowl and upland game birds set to get underway in September, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has issued its annual online guide to hunting opportunities throughout the state.

LOOKING FOR EVERGREEN STATE DEER, ELK, UPLAND BIRDS AND WATERFOWL PROSPECTS? WDFW’S 2017 HUNTING FORECASTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR ALL OF WASHINGTON’S DISTRICTS. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

WDFW’s Hunting Prospects report, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/, provides updated information about game populations, hunting rules and land access in every game-management district in the state.

“This report was compiled by local wildlife biologists to help hunters succeed in the field,” said Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager. “Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or just getting started, you’ll likely find some helpful information in Hunting Prospects.”

State game managers expect another good year of hunting, although hunters can expect new restrictions on deer and elk hunts in some areas due to the harsh conditions last winter. Meanwhile, hunting prospects for gamebirds are looking up, according to the report.

“This last winter was one of the tougher ones we’ve seen in recent years, and we have to give the herds – particularly those east of the Cascades – some time to rebuild,” Aoude said. “Fortunately, most Washington deer and elk benefitted from a previous string of mild winters, so the affected herds are only slightly below our population objectives.”

Late spring rains also delayed nesting for doves and some other upland game birds, but observations in the field indicate a good hatch this year, said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl manager.

Especially encouraging is the boom in the state’s waterfowl populations, which have rebounded from the drought of 2015, Spragens said. Among the various species of ducks and geese that breed in Washington state, Canada geese are up by 17 percent, mallards are up by 74 percent and wood ducks are up by 76 percent from last year.

“This year’s long, wet spring was a boon to waterfowl in our state,” Spragens said. “Those local birds will be the focus of hunters’ attention until northern birds arrive later in the year from Canada and Alaska.”

Aoude asks that hunters pay special attention to several new rules that will take effect this year:

  • Youth-only hunts: The traditional bird hunt for hunters under age 16 has been split between two weekends this year, providing more options for them and the non-hunting parents, guardians and mentors who accompany them. The youth hunt for waterfowl is scheduled Sept. 16-17, followed by the youth hunt for pheasant and other upland game birds Sept. 23-24.
  • Goose bag limits: Starting Oct. 14, hunters in most areas will be allowed to take up to six white geese and 10 white-fronted geese – in addition to their limit of four Canada – per day. The change reflects the large number of white geese on the northern breeding grounds.
  • Special deer hunts: Youth hunters and hunters with disabilities can hunt any deer in Game Management Units (GMU) 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, and 121 from Oct. 14-15 and Oct. 21-22 during the modern firearm general season.
  • Hoof disease precaution: Several units have been added to the list of GMUs where hunters are required to remove and leave behind the hooves of harvested elk to reduce the spread of elk hoof disease. Those units include GMUs 633 and 636 in Mason County, and 407, 418, 437, and 454 in north Puget Sound.

These and other hunting regulations are described in WDFW’s Big Game Hunting pamphlet or Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlets, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

However, for an overview of how those hunting seasons are shaping up in specific areas of the state, Aoude recommends checking the Hunting Prospects report.

“Most serious hunters are eager to get all the information they can before they go afield,” Aoude said. “The Hunting Prospects are designed to fill that demand.”