Tag Archives: WATERFOWL

New ‘Get Outdoors’ Fish-Hunt License, Corn Ponds, Salmon Hatcheries On WA Commission Agenda


The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take action on a new combination fishing and hunting license at its September meeting.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will meet Sept. 13-14 in Room Pasayten B at Sun Mountain Lodge, 604 Patterson Lake Road, Winthrop. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. both days.

A full agenda is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings. The Sept. 13 meeting will be livestreamed on WDFW’s website at https://player.invintus.com/?clientID=2836755451&eventID=2019091003 and the Sept. 14 meeting will be available at https://player.invintus.com/?clientID=2836755451&eventID=2019091004.

Using statutory authority to create license packages, WDFW is proposing to create a new Get Outdoors license for state residents. The license would include:

  • An annual combination recreational freshwater, saltwater, and shellfish license;
  • Two-pole endorsement (allowing anglers to fish with two poles in allowed areas);
  • Puget Sound crab endorsement;
  • Annual combination hunting license for deer, elk, bear, and cougar;
  • Bear and cougar transport tags;
  • Small game license;
  • Migratory bird permit and migratory bird authorization; and
  • Two turkey tags.

If approved, the new license would cost $235.18 including fees, and would be available for purchase beginning Dec. 1 for the 2020 license year, which runs April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.

Department staff will also brief the commission on proposed regulations for aquatic invasive species. One proposal would reclassify northern pike – a highly invasive predator found in the Box Canyon Reservoir on the Pend Oreille River and Lake Roosevelt in northeastern Washington – as a Level 1 invasive species. The new classification will facilitate rapid response and emergency action by WDFW and partners if the species spreads downstream into the Columbia River.

The commission will also hear a briefing on the state’s policy on hunting for ducks on “corn ponds” or flooding standing crops and will receive an update on the department’s timeline for evaluating the state’s hatchery and fishery reform policy. The policy is intended to improve hatchery effectiveness, ensure compatibility between hatchery production and salmon recovery plans, and support sustainable fisheries.

Sign Up For Washington Hunter Ed


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reminds prospective hunters to complete their hunter education class before hunting season.

“It’s a great time to enroll in hunter education to ensure you can participate in fall hunting seasons,” said David Whipple, WDFW hunter education division manager.


WDFW offers both traditional and online options to complete the hunter education requirement.

“The traditional classroom experience includes direct instruction from certified volunteer instructors, which can be important for younger students,” Whipple said. “The online course offers the same content, but on the student’s schedule. If you take the online course, you must still complete an in-person field skills evaluation.”

All hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 must complete a hunter education course to buy a hunting license. To find a course and learn about hunter education requirements, new hunters should visit the WDFW hunter education webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/education/basic.


Those who are unable to complete a hunter education course before the fall hunting seasons may qualify for a hunter education deferral. For more information on the deferral, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/education/deferral-program.


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Skagit Wildlife Area Open House Coming Up As New 10-year Plan Development Begins


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a public open house March 28 to kick off a planning process for the Skagit Wildlife Area, which includes critical estuary and other habitat valuable to species such as waterfowl, shorebirds, and juvenile salmon.


The wildlife area consists of 17,000 acres in Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan counties. A huge portion – about 12,000 acres – of the wildlife area is estuary in Skagit County. The wildlife area contains wetlands, agricultural habitat, and natural areas managed for the protection of sensitive species.

The open house is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, at the Padilla Bay Visitor Center at 10441 Bayview Edison Rd, Mount Vernon. There will be stations set up to showcase the different wildlife area.

The Skagit plan will propose actions for the management of the wildlife area over the next 10 years. The Skagit Wildlife Area is managed to preserve fish, wildlife and their habitats, and to provide access for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, said Belinda Rotton, wildlife area manager.

At the upcoming open house, the public will be able to talk to individual WDFW staff members about wildlife area history, current management, recreational activities, and the planning process, Rotton said.

“We want to hear from the public about how people use this area and what recreation and natural resource values are important to them,” she said. “We’re also looking for interested citizens to sit on the wildlife area advisory committee.”

WDFW is seeking advisors to represent diverse interests including wildlife area neighbors, the agricultural community, and various recreational user groups such as wildlife watchers and hunters.

The Skagit Wildlife Area advisory committee will guide development of the wildlife area plan and ongoing management activities, Rotton said. Those interested in serving should contact her at 360-445-4441 or Belinda.Rotton@dfw.wa.gov.

Rotton said the public will have several opportunities to comment on the plan over the next year as a draft is developed.

She noted that the March 28 meeting will focus on management planning for the entire wildlife area, not specific actions at a specific location.

Information on the wildlife area is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit/.

The department is revising management plans for all of its 33 wildlife areas to reflect current conditions and identify new priorities.

Waterfowling And The YouTube Generation

With mentors lacking, duck- and goose-hunting newbies are turning to video-posting educator-entertainers, but are there limitations to what you can learn?

By M.D. Johnson

My Old Man taught me how to hunt ducks. He took me. He showed me. He suffered through my mistakes, and, I believe, he relished my accomplishments. Like my first duck (1974). My first goose (1979). And the time I got frostbite while hunting the Scioto River in central Ohio (1987), and all the skin on my fingertips turned grey and sloughed off. Not an accomplishment, I don’t reckon, but he was there for that one, too.

My introduction into the waterfowling arts was, for the time, typical. We had fathers and uncles, grandfathers and that grumpy old guy next door who loved to hunt but generally hated everyone; still, and for whatever reason, he took a shine to us and would take us with him every now and again.

From these men, we learned the finer points of waterfowling. How to do this. How to do that. Decoys. Guns. Dogs. Wind. Range estimation. Sometimes the lessons came with praise; other things, with a swat upside the head.

Either way, we learned, and the schooling, at least for some of us, stuck. Today, it’s different. Fewer people hunt waterfowl. Period. And of those, there are fewer of the aforementioned blood relatives or crotchety old neighbors to show nimrods how to set a spread, run a call, train a dog, or patch a ripped set of waders. So, that said, who’s teaching this next generation how to duck hunt?

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Once, newbies to waterfowling like author MD Johnson learned the sport from their dads, uncles, grandpas. These days, those figures may not be available or never took up hunting, leaving a knowledge gap that’s being filled by enthusiastic camera- and tech-savvy YouTubers like Bobby Guy. “Absolutely I consider myself both an educator and an entertainer,” says Guy, whose YouTube channel BobbyGuyFilms was closing in on 67,000 subscribers last month, up significantly from this past summer. (SCREEN SHOT FROM BOBBY GUY FILMS)

YOUTUBE, THAT’S WHO. Is it all being done, the education that is, via Al Gore’s Internet? Absolutely not, but here in the 2018-19 waterfowl season, an amazing number of new-to-the sport duck hunters are learning the ropes, per se, by watching hours and hours of YouTube videos.

Washington duck hunter Jeff Landers and his boys Nate and Ben are three of the many. I met Landers a year or so ago when I sold him a layout blind for his boy. A simple business transaction led to frequent conversations, the common denominator being waterfowl and waterfowl hunting.

Admittedly new to ‘fowling, Landers, a pastor/international missionary, wanted to get his sons involved, but understood his knowledge when it came to duck hunting was lacking. Enter YouTube.

“I wouldn’t say (YouTube) was our primary source of information,” Landers said. “We would connect with other men and women who had the experience, and we’d spend time with them in the field.

Then,” he continued, “the boys would come home and look on YouTube for specific things based on things they’d seen in the field. Things like ‘Why don’t more people hunt shovelers?’ or ‘Why aren’t coots as prized as other ducks?'”

“Too,” he said, “I think YouTube is a way to keep these new people engaged throughout the week until they can go hunting again. A lot of these people come home from a hunt, can’t stop thinking about it, and YouTube plays a key role in keeping them engaged. But it’s not necessarily the be all/end all of (duck hunting) training.”

Landers’ sons, like many novice waterfowlers across the nation, I’m sure, turn to YouTube not only for educational purposes, but for definition.

“Both of the boys,” he said, “have this exposure in the field, and then they come home and start researching what they’ve seen. They’ll watch videos, for instance, and then try what they’ve seen in the field the next time they’re out. Or they’ll make a mention of something they’ve seen, as in ‘Dad, did you know such-and-such?’ I’d say my boys are watching videos – outdoor videos – on a daily basis, but they’re using it more like a readily accessible encyclopedia or magazine.”

SHIFT GEARS A bit, if you don’t mind. I’ve been to Hutchinson, Kansas. I’ve hunted ducks on the Cheyenne Bottoms, pass-shot geese on the firing line, and stubbled layout blinds in more than one field. Trust me; it’s an incredible place, if you’re a waterfowler.

Thirty-one-year-old Bobby Guy lives there, and he lives and breathes waterfowl hunting. So much so that in 2016, he ran his first video episode on YouTube on a channel he calls BobbyGuyFilms.

“My goal,” reads the description on the home page of his channel, “is to teach waterfowl hunting. If you’re looking for big waterfowl hunting, you’ve found it.”

Apparently, Guy’s hitting the mark, as he definitely has an audience. Before this season opened, he had in the neighborhood of 24,000 subscribers; at this end of the season, it’s more than double that, 66,000-plus as of press time last month.

“Absolutely I consider myself both an educator and an entertainer,” he told me. “The 21st Century wants entertainment, but they want real entertainment. Not fake entertainment, like reality TV. So it’s both. On YouTube, I have to teach the world (how to duck hunt) in an entertaining way.”

And Guy practiced what he now preaches.

“I wasn’t blowing a duck call or a goose call at age 8 or 10 or 12. I didn’t have Dad to teach me how to duck hunt. My stepdad taught me how to quail hunt, but I had to go to YouTube to learn to duck hunt. To learn how to blow a feed chuckle on a duck call.”

That, he said, was 15 years ago or so. But surprisingly, Guy’s audience isn’t made up primarily of 15-year-olds. In fact, his primary viewing audience consists of men, ages 25 to 34, with his secondary group of visual consumers ranging from 34 to 42 years of age.

“I would say a heavy 75 percent, maybe 80 percent of my viewers are public (land) hunters in their first one or two years of duck hunting,” said Guy when we spoke last summer.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Guy is, like it or not – and note, I get the impression he absolutely loves what he does – a leader. A mentor. An educator to be mimicked.

“Everything I teach them (my viewers),” he said, “they do. They run with it. But there have been things,” he confided, “that I’ve done wrong. Where I’ve messed up. There is an element of self-responsibility. Of maturity. It is a heavy weight (I’ve taken on). It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. Not everyone should try to influence people. It can be very complicated, and it’s a lot of work.”

Along with software that makes editing easy, waterfowling videos often include new and interesting angles. “I think YouTube is a way to keep these new people engaged throughout the week until they can go hunting again,” says Washington duck hunter Jeff Landers whose young sons watch episodes between outings. “But it’s not necessarily the be all/end all of (duck hunting) training,” he adds. (SCREEN SHOT FROM BOBBY GUY FILMS)

TODAY’S IS A very personal world. An immediate world. A reach-out-and-touch-damn-near-everyone-at-any-time world. And it’s all part of Guy’s program.

“I get a lot of people (in the field) holding their phone in front of their face saying, ‘Hey Bobby! What gun should I buy?’ or, ‘What duck spread should I use?’ or, ‘I want to hunt snow geese. What do I need?’ People are intrigued by waterfowl hunting. And it’s cool. A lot of these people are older, and they have a little money. And they found (duck hunting) on YouTube.”

“Let’s face it,” he continued, “commercial TV has gone down the tubes. You have YouTube in your pocket. It’s your nightly watch. It’s more personalized; in fact, it’s as personalized as it gets. You can subscribe to a YouTube blogger who does what you do. Or what you want to do, whether it’s a woman doing her nails or a guy teaching you to duck hunt.”

Do I use YouTube as an electronic educator? Damn right, I do. Via any number of channels, I’ve learned to build wooden display boxes, cheaply repair busted PVC pipe, fix small carburetors, and tend to blueberry bushes here in Wahkiakum County, on the Lower Columbia. Duck hunting, I learned from my father and face-to-face from a long line of men, who possessed collectively more seasons of experience than Carter has little liver pills.

Guys over 50, you know what I’m talking about. But the world is different now. Faster. More streamlined. Fewer fathers hunt; thus, fewer ’fowl teachers exist. Still, people, i.e. new waterfowlers, hunger for information. They crave it. Need it. But it needs to be the right information. Legally correct. Ethically strong. Responsible. Safe. Conscientious. Conservation-minded. So I ask guys like Guy and other online hunting educators: Are you doing it right? Are you?

ORIGINALLY, MY PLAN, so to speak, was to ride, albeit gently, both these YouTubers – non-traditional heathens – and those who “learned” waterfowl and waterfowl hunting electronically.

Also non-traditional heathens.

But then, as the kids from South Park would say, I learned something today. With grandpa gone, and with fathers and uncles at a premium, who’s going to teach these up-andcomers, if not for YouTube? Magazines – and my apologies, Dear Editor – have for the most part gone the way of buck-fifty fuel, and dreadfully fewer and further between are the newspapers with weekly outdoor columns, which, even if they did exist, would require the aforementioned reading, and we know that’s not cool.

So the question remains: Who, then, are the ‘fowling teachers, if not for YouTube? And, too, I’ll admit, if I had ridden these folks unmercifully, would I not be a hypocrite? Wasn’t it YouTube that taught me how to repair busted PVC pipe without digging up everything?

And wasn’t it YouTube that coached me when I was building dormers on the garage? And repairing the chimney? And replacing the throttle body gasket on Grandpa’s ’93 Chevy Work Truck? So is it a good thing, this YouTube, when it comes to teaching 21st Century duck hunters how to duck hunt? It can be, I reckon, as long as it’s being done right.

Sure, YouTube can talk you through the first four stages of being a hunter – shooting ops, whacking and stacking, killing the unicorn, perfecting skills – but author MD Johnson wonders, what about the fifth, where the overall experience is far more important than killing? “Stage Five … needs a person. A been there and done-that waterfowler,” he writes. Maybe so, maybe today’s crop of duck- and goose-hunting YouTubers will eventually get there too. (CHAD ZOLLER)

Which brings me to a final (really!) note regarding Internet-based instruction being done right. Yes, you can teach someone to duck hunt via YouTube. You can teach them the basics of patterning, decoy selection, spread design, concealment, wind direction, calls and calling, safety, and, to some extent, ethics. But before we go any further, let’s review the Five Stages of Hunting. You know them, right?

  • Stage 1, The Shooting Stage: The quality of the hunt is determined by the amount of shooting opportunities afforded
  • Stage 2, The Bag Limit Stage: The quality of the hunt is determined by the amount of game harvested. Limits
    are important
  • Stage 3, The Trophy Stage: The biggest buck; an all-greenhead limit, a 25-pound gobbler. The bigger, the better here
  • Stage 4, The Method Stage: How the hunt is accomplished is most important, e.g. a homemade muzzleloader or
    hand-made game call
  • Stage 5, The Experience Stage: The time afield is what’s important, not the game harvested. This is the Sunrise Stage.

Back to YouTube. Yes, you can teach someone about Stages 1 through 4 online. You can show the viewer unplugged guns and spring snows (Shooting). You can show them straps of seven ducks (Limit), seven greenheads (Trophy), and a handturned double reed duck call (Method).

But can YouTube really – really – explain the psychological aspects\ associated with waterfowl hunting? Why we freeze? Why we suffer? Why we work so hard for a duck? One duck. Even no ducks?

Can YouTube convey the emotions involved with watching our 7-year-old grandson retrieve the pair of cacklers we just killed? The ones out of a small flock that followed an even smaller flock of lessers right into the heart of the 18-decoy spread at our feet?

Can YouTube get across to the nimrod the confusion – for lack of a better term – we predators feel when we realize we’re no longer the natural born killers we were at 25? And then the moment you realize, I’m okay with that.

I don’t think so.

I think YouTube has a place; yes, even among waterfowlers.

But I also think it most certainly has limitations. Human limitations. Stage Five is important; perhaps, for many, it’s the most important and most fulfilling of the five stages.

But it needs a person. A been-there and done-that waterfowler. For there are some things for which one must walk in those waders in order to understand. And there’s a huge part of waterfowling hunting that falls under that umbrella.

Tips Needed In ‘Major’ Whatcom Co. Waterfowl Wastage Case

Washington game wardens are looking for whomever strew more than 60 dead ducks and geese across a rural part of Whatcom County recently, a “major wastage.”


The mallards, Canadas and other waterfowl were found on and along stretches of Weidkamp and West Badger Roads, which are just west of Lynden and a couple miles south of the US-Canada border.

It’s believed the birds had been shot several days before but were not processed at all.

“None of them were breasted and they appeared to have been dead for several days. The birds were spread out singly. It appears they were thrown from a vehicle traveling up the road,” WDFW Police reported on Facebook this afternoon.

The Northwest Washington Waterfowl Association reported that on  Friday, Nov. 30, one of its members came across a warden collecting the birds.

They were initially spotted by a school bus driver earlier in the day, according to a Bellingham Herald article out this morning.

Anyone with information is being asked to call WDFW’s poaching tip line at (877) 933-9847.

Anonymous texts can also be sent to 847411, entering WDFWTIP and then providing details.

Trying To Foul Hook Downed Fowl, Something Bassy Bites Instead For Basin Duck Hunter

Everybody knows that Washington’s Columbia Basin is a great spot for duck hunting and it’s widely regarded as tops for bass fishing, but it isn’t often that Northwest sportsmen get to enjoy both pursuits at once.


Waterfowling heats up in midfall as northern flights begin to arrive but largies and smallies become much more lethargic as lakes cool down with the onset of winter.

That’s the theory, anyway, and you just know that for every theory there’s that one guy gunning to poke a hole in it.

Enter Mr. Kyle Vanderwaal.

He’s a hardcore duck and goose hunter, if reports from family friend Gary Lundquist are any indication, and last weekend he found himself in the basin chasing mallards.

Despite blue skies hunting was pretty good that day, but apparently Vanderwaal downed one bird over water that was a bit deeper than his chest waders allowed him to wade.

Sans Bowser, it was time to implement plan C — casting.

Out came a fishing rod strung up with a No. 9 Shad Rap, a 31/2-inch plug sporting a pair of trebles, on the business end.

Perfect for hooking far-fallen fowl.

Also fish.

As Vanderwaal attempted to snag his greenhead, a green bass bit instead.

In the hook-and-bullet world, a cast and blast is an outing where you might fish for steelhead in the morning and head into the breaks for chukar in the afternoon, so this was more of a blast and cast or blast then cast.

Anyway, a photo snapped shortly afterwards shows the young hunter smiling with the day’s, er, catch — five drakes and a roughly 2-pound largemouth.

“The bass was released :)” reports Lundquist.

The same can not be said, however, of Vanderwaal’s 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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Just 7 Days Left To Comment On WDFW 2018-20 Hunting Reg Proposals


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on proposed recommendations for the 2018-20 hunting seasons.


Through Feb. 14, WDFW will accept comments from the public to help finalize proposed regulations for hunting seasons that begin this year. To review and comment on the proposals, visit the department’s website starting Jan. 24 at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting/.

Developed after extensive public involvement, the proposed hunting season rules are based on the objectives and strategies contained in the new 2015-21 Game Management Plan, said Anis Aoude, WDFW game manager. The plan is available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01676/.

“We appreciate the input we’ve received over the past months and encourage everyone interested in the 2018-20 hunting seasons to review and comment on the proposed rules before final action is taken,” Aoude said.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for WDFW, will also take public comment on the proposed recommendations at its March 16-17 meeting at the Red Lion Hotel in Wenatchee. Final commission action is scheduled to take place at the April 12-16 meeting.