Posts tagged: ducks
WINTER SPORTS — Ski resorts are the obvious beneficiaries from a good dump of snow, and perhaps the most public insight into the economic importance of a steadily building snowpack through winter.
Farmers, river rafters, hydropower operators and many more interests are keeping their eye on the lack of precip that's leaving the region mostly brown.
Under the general radar, duck hunters and steelheaders, in particular, are sizing up the the dry, mild weather that marked the end of 2013 as a giant bummer.
“Dry, calm weather is nice, but it doesn’t make for great duck hunting conditions,” said Dave Ware, game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Ducks like water, and that is in short supply in the fields around the state.”
A good downpour would also improve fishing for winter steelhead on the Columbia River and elsewhere around the state, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist based in Vancouver, Wash.
“Salmon and steelhead get active and move upriver when rivers and streams rise,” Hymer said. “A lot of anglers would welcome a good hard rain, the sooner the better.”
Statewide waterfowl seasons run through Jan. 26, while steelhead seasons vary by area, as described in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet.
HUNTING — Three mentored waterfowl hunting opportunities for youth aged 10-15 are being organized for Sept. 28, the opening day of Idaho's youth-only waterfowl hunting season.
The mentored hunting clinics, sponsored by the Idaho Fish and Game Department and sportsmens groups, take advantage of this special season, before the birds become scattered and wary, to teach youngsters basic hunting skills and giving them a shot at their first ducks.
Clinics will be held at the Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area west of Bonners Ferry, Heyburn State Park west of St. Maries, and the Clark Fork River delta.
Clinics are free, but space is limited and pre-registration is required:
Read on for more details:
HUNTING — Amendments to some of the fine print on Washington's 2013-2014 waterfowl hunting seasons have been made by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and posted on the state agency's website. The changes include changes in limits for ducks such as canvasbacks and scaup and details about goose seasons.
Click here to see the final regulations and a Concise Explanatory Statement that describes the changes the Commission has made to these regulations.
HUNTING — Idaho's 2013-2014 waterfowl hunting seasons will include 105 days and a two-day youth hunt, along with some changes in goose seasons and limits, according to action by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Monday.
The number of geese that can be taken in light-geese zones has been doubled to 20 birds a day.
Idaho's waterfowl seasons will open with a two-day youth hunt, Sept. 28-29, for licensed hunters ages 10 to 15.
Duck and Canada goose seasons in the Panhandle and most of the state will run Oct. 12 - Jan. 24, with scaup seasons from Nov. 2 - Jan. 24.
In the area around American Falls Reservoir the seasons will run from Oct. 5 to Jan. 17, with scaup seasons from Oct. 26 to Jan. 17.
The daily bag limit is seven ducks – but no more than two female mallards, two redheads, three scaup, two pintails and two canvasbacks – and four Canada geese.
New this year, the white-fronted goose season was separated from Canada geese to accommodate white-fronted goose hunting opportunities in the southwest part of the state. But during the time the white-fronted goose and light-goose seasons occur at the same time, the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns would not be allowed.
Read on for more details about Idaho's upcoming goose hunting seasons:
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during its meeting in Olympia today set 2013-14 waterfowl seasons, extended protections for octopus in Puget Sound, approved land transactions and heard testimony on rules for interactions with wildlife including wolves.
Specifically, the commission:
HUNTING – Young hunters can apply for a limited-entry youth waterfowl hunt at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge during Washington’s youth waterfowl hunting weekend at the end of September.
Applications will be accepted Aug.1-15 from licensed hunters under age 16.
Hunters will be allowed to use designated hunting sites, accompanied by an adult.
One application per hunters must be submitted on standard U.S. Postal Service postcards and include the youth’s full name, address and telephone number.
Youths may apply with a youth friend or youth sibling on the same application.
Mail postcards to Refuge Manager, Turnbull NWR, 26010 South Smith Road, Cheney, WA, 99004.
Drawing results will be posted on the refuge website and letters of confirmation and a youth waterfowl hunt brochure will be mailed to selected youths by the end of August.
A workshop will be held in partnership with the Spokane Chapter of the Washington Waterfowl Association to select hunting sites, and provide waterfowl identification and hunting tips on the weekend prior to the hunt.
Info: (509) 235-4723.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A male harlequin duck, known to be at least 17 years old, was recently identified in Glacier National Park by University of Montana researchers and Glacier National Park scientists.
“Prior to these findings, harlequin ducks were reported to live up to only 10 years of age, which makes this finding a positive indicator of the health and longevity of harlequin breeding populations in Glacier National Park,” said Lisa Bate, Glacier Park biological science technician. “Research indicates harlequin ducks mate for life unless something happens to one member of the pair. This old male has returned the last three years with the same female.”
Researchers launched the study in 2011, using radio-telemetry and banding to learn more about the location of harlequin nests and factors affecting offspring survival.
Upper McDonald Creek is considered an important breeding stream for harlequin ducks, comprising 25 percent of known broods produced in Montana. The area also has the highest density of breeding harlequins in the lower 48 states.
About 40 pairs of harlequins in the park are known to be in Glacier Park.
Read on for more detals about the harlequins.
WILDLIFE — Among the urban wildlife spectacles that stand out in Spokane's history, it's tough to beat the Duck Man's help in usering a brood of ducklings from their nest at Sterling Savings Bank to the water in Riverfront Park.
Joel Armstrong made some good catches in the May 16, 2009 episode as he helped the mallard mother parade her 12 ducklings down the Lilac Parade route — just shortly before the parade started.
Video of the event rightly made national news, above.
Kudos to the bank, which stepped up and turned the event into a windfall for waterfowl at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
HUNTING — Ducks Unlimited officials in Idaho restated their zero-tollerance policy for illegal hunting tactics last week after a former volunteer chapter chairman from Hagerman was convicted of baiting ducks with corn.
Ducks Unlimited leaders condemned Steele’s hunting tactics, not only as a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act but also the ethics of fair-chase that govern hunting, the Associated Press reports.
Mond Warren, the group’s regional director in Nampa, called corn baiting akin to using salt to lure big game such as elk nearer to hunters’ scopes.
“We have a zero tolerance for any type of game violation,” Warren said. “It’s a very stringent policy, there’s no wavering on it. Our job is waterfowl conservation and wetland conservation.”
Warren might have used better analogy. Putting out salt or even bait for big-game hunting is illegal in Idaho but legal in Washington.
Baiting for waterfowl and other migratory birds is strictly forbidden in all states by federal law.
Read on for the entire Associated Press story about the baiting case.
CONSERVATION — Ducks Unlimited is holding a recruitment meeting Thursday (Dec. 13) in Spokane for people interested in helping organize a fundraiser for wildlife habitat projects.
DU is a nonprofit (501.c.3), volunteer run, conservation organization, that covers the USA, Mexico and Canada.
Bernard Brown, DU's senior regional director for Washington, will meet with conservation-minded waterfowl enthusiasts from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Contact Brown at (509) 860-1510 or email Bernard Brown email@example.com.
HUNTING/FISHING — My outdoors column this week discusses some of the disturbing parasites waterfowl hunters and anglers have discovered in the ducks and fish they've harvested in the Inland Northwest.
They're natural; been around for a long time, and in most cases the game and fish are still safe to eat — as far as we know — as long as you cook the meat to at least 180 degrees.
But would I eat visibly parasitized meat? What do you think?
WATERFOWLING — Some North Idaho hunter cried fowl when their duck hunting season opened a week later than usual, giving wood ducks and teal another week to get out of the area unscathed.
However, I found a wood duck bonanza today Wednesday while waterfowl hunting and tourng Ducks Unlimited wetland conservation projects near the Tri Cities.
Hundreds of wood ducks poured in to the Wallula Unit habitat area at the mouth of the Walla Walla River. I'm talking about a flight of perhaps 500 woodies that dropped into the area in just a few minutes.
Even the DU habitat biologist I was with said it was an outstanding sight to behold.
HUNTING-GATHERING — While most people head to the supermarket for their Thanksgiving fixings, some sportsmen head to the field.
Washington's late-fall wild turkey hunting season opens Nov. 20 in portions of Eastern Washington.
November is also prime time to hunt ducks, geese, deer, pheasant, forest grouse and a variety of other game around the state.
Late modern firearm general white-tailed deer hunting season runs Nov. 10-19 in northeast Game Management Units 105, 108,111, 113, and 124 for any buck. GMUs 117 and 121 are also open for the late buck hunt, but are under a four-antler-point minimum rule.
SPORTSMEN ONLINE — Idaho Fish and Game officials sat down Friday with 158 waterfowl hunters from all over the state, answering their quesstions about waterfowl hunting and management — and nobody had to leave their officer or home.
The agency's first online chat. For example:
Comment from Duckhunter:
Will Idaho ever move to a split season for water fowl hunting?
It is entirely possible that Idaho could have a split season; however, when we conducted a survey of Idaho waterfowl hunters in July, 75% of survey respondents favored a continuous season.
Click here to scroll through a replay of the first chat, which covered waterfowl rules, biology, management and issues.
HUNTING — Duck and goose calling contests plus seminars by waterfowling experts and a retrieving dog trainer are on the schedule for two days of free events this weekend (Sept. 8-9) at Cabela’s in Post Falls.
Some of the seminars will be conducted by hunters who've been spotlighted in S-R outdoors features, including Pend Oreille County waterfowling expert Kent Contreras and Spokane-area dog trainer Dan Hosford.
8 a.m.-9 a.m. – Registration for junior duck calling.
9 a.m. – Seminar on identifying waterfowl, hunting regulations by Idaho Fish and Game.
9:30 a.m. – Junior Duck Calling Contest (16 and under).
9:30 a.m.-10:30 – Registration for open duck calling.
10:30 a.m. – Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.
11 a.m. – Open Duck Calling Contest. 1 p.m. – Layout blind hunting, judging distance by Kent Contreras.
2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.
9 a.m. – Registration for junior and open goose calling.
9:15 a.m. – Duck calling strategies by Chris Redell.
9:45 a.m. – Junior Goose Calling Contest.
10:30 a.m. Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.
11 a.m. – Open Goose Calling Contest.
1 p.m. – Hunting gear, hunting situations by John Plughoff.
2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.
Note: dog-training seminars may change times if weather too hot for the dogs.
WATERFOWLING — Abel Cortina of Prosser won the premier solo event in the Washington State Duck Calling Championships last weekend, earning a berth in the prestigious World Duck Calling Championships held over Thanksgiving holidays in Stuttgart, Ark.
John Plughoff of Yakima dominated goose-calling, winnng the Washington State Goose event as well as the Open Goose event.
Cortina — chairman of the Washington Waterfowl Association and one of the judges in the state event — won the Washington premier contest in 2003 and went on to place 16th at Stuttgart.
Cortina missed several years of competitive calling while serving in the military, although he won the 2005 Arizona state title while stationed there and returned to finish second hin the Washington state event last year.
Cortina teamed with another WWA member, Mike Maier of West Richland, to top the Two-Man Duck event.
Apparently Cortina’s position with the WWA judges doesn’t help him in the competition. Judges never know who’s competing at any time; they’re in a segregated area and can only hear (and grade) the calls — not seeing the callers.
Read on for the list of top callers in each division.
WATERFOWL HUNTING — Preliminary surveys indicate a wet spring is just ducky for waterfowl.
While the jury's still out on whether pheasants and other upland birds will produce many young after the wetness that smothered our region during nesting, ducks apparently prospered throughout much of North America. The notable exception is pintails.
Is you're retriever in shape?
Here's a summary of the North America breeding ground population surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
Mallard: totaled 10.6 million ducks, a 15 percent increase over last year and a 39 percent increase over the long-term average.
American wigeon: increased 3 percent from last year, but remains 17 percent below the long-term average.
Teal, Green-winged and blue-winged: numbered 3.5 million and 9.2 million, 20 percent and 3 percent respectively above last year. Both are well above the long-term averages by 74 percent and 94 percent.
Gadwall: increased 10 percent above last year’s estimate, and 96 percent above the long-term average.
Northern pintail: numbered 3.5 million, down 22 percent from last year’s estimate, and 14 percent below the long-term average.
More info: www.ducks.org
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Area birdwatcher Ron Dexter, who lives in the Mount Spokane foothills, has the welcome mat out for colorful migrants that return each year for his hospitality. Ron posted this delightful update this morning:
Each spring, we look forward to the arrival of Wood Ducks on our ponds. The first pair arrived about 10 days ago, then a few more every couple days. Yesterday, I counted 17. They are very flighty and try to sneak in to our duck feeding area twice a day. Our regular pond birds are Mallards of course. We fed approximately 40 through the winter. We have 4 domestic ducks. A spring fed water supply keeps an open space in the ice for them to bathe, etc. Two pair of Canada Geese arrived about 2 weeks ago to fight over the nesting platforms.
The Wood Ducks, however are our favorites. They checkout all of the nest boxes and eventually each will lay 10 or 11 eggs. Sometimes two will lay eggs in the same box. I have counted as many as 22 eggs in one box. 19 of those were hatched by one Wood Duck. The eggs all hatch within a 24 hr period and when the coast is clear she calls the kids out of the nest box. Believe it or not, they jump to the water or ground below no matter the distance. They actually spread their arms and legs like a sky diver and bounce like a cork when they hit the ground. Within a few hours, mama duck takes the young on a quarter mile hike through tall grasses down to the creek.
Last year one mama got quite used to us and kept her young on the pond for 2 weeks which we throughlly enjoyed. She hides them in the cattails most of the time, but the brave or naughty ones dart our and around the pond looking for something to eat. Ahhhh, spring is arriving
WATERFOWL HUNTING — Mikal Moore, state waterfowl biologist, compiled data Wednesday from the season’s first aerial waterfowl surveys over the Columbia River Basin on Monday and Tuesday.
Bottomline: Northerns are here.
“There a lot of new birds in the area, probably recently arrived, that seem to be staging in large groups at well-established reserves and private hunting clubs”, she said. The ducks were not yet well distributed and widely available to hunters, but many opportunities exist, she said.
Waterfowlers will want to read on for details from her observations.
WATERFOWL HUNTING — After mechanical “Robo Duck” decoys were invented in the late 90s, Washington waterfowl hunters enjoyed a few seasons to sample their effectiveness.
Many hunters liked what they saw as the wings caused movement in the air and water to lure waterfowl from afar.
But a majority of sportsmen and wildlife managers thought they were so effective they could eventually lead to reduced limits or shorter seasons.
In 2001, the Fish and Wildlife Department conducted a casual survey of hunters and found that 34 percent opposed use of mechanical decoys, 46 percent would be in favor of using them if it did not result in loss of hunting opportunity and 20 percent favored mechanical decoys unconditionally.
A 2006 survey found 40 percent opposition, 49 percent in favor if no restrictions resulted and 11 percent in favor unconditionally.
This fall, sportsmen on the Washington Waterfowl Advisory Group voted 7-5 to support a proposal reinstating use of battery-operated or other electronic decoys. This would bring Washington into alignment with Idaho and Montana, which have no restrictions on mechanical decoys.
The proposal made the list of items being considered for the 2012-2014 Washington hunting regulations.
In November, the WDFW conducted one more email survey among hunters who had purchased state waterfowl license endorsements in the past two years. Of the 3,500 responses:
More public comment will be taken on revised proposals in January before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission consider the hunting rules package again in March.
Ardent waterfowl hunter Kent Contreras of northeastern Washington said he’s on the fence, along with most hunters.
“They definitely are effective at bringing in ducks and geese,” he said while hunting Saturday. “I’ve heard from hunters in other states who say mechanical decoys become less effective the more waterfowl see them. But motion in a decoy spread is always effective.”