September 16, 2010 in Outdoors

Panhandle waterfowl wonderland for hunters

These numbers don’t lie
By The Spokesman-Review
Rich Landers photo

Tank, a Labrador retriever, launches off a boat blind to a retrieve for his handler, Kent Contreras.
(Full-size photo)

DU fundraisers

Spokane area: West Plains chapter of Ducks Unlimited fundraising dinner, Sept. 24 at Northern Quest Casino. Tickets and info, Don Richter, 325-4608.

Republic DU Dinner, Oct. 8, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Republic Eagles Lodge.

Contact: Jack Hamilton, (509) 775-2349.

Kootenai Valley DU Dinner, Oct. 22, starting at 6 p.m. at Boundary County Fairgrounds in Bonners Ferry.

Contact: Patti Branson, (208) 610-8213.

While the Panhandle has stood out as Idaho’s hot spot for goose hunting, other waterfowl trends are similarly encouraging, said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager.

“Hunters took about twice as many ducks and geese last year compared to 2008,” he said. “In 2009, the Panhandle had about 1,800 duck hunters who took 20,413 ducks for an average of 1.8 ducks per hunter per day. That was the second-best duck hunting in the state.”

The Salmon Region, with only a couple hundred duck hunters, was the only region of the state with higher duck-hunting success rates.

October was the best month for harvesting a duck in the Panhandle, with an average of 2.3 ducks per hunter per day.

December was the lowest month, with 1.4 ducks per hunter per day.

About 1,200 hunters pursued geese on the Panhandle last year. They took 8,114 geese for an average of 1.1 geese per hunter per day, Hayden said, noting the rate made the Panhandle “the best goose hunting in the state.”

The best month to bag a goose was January, with 1.9 geese per hunter per day, and the lowest was October, with 0.6 geese per hunter per day.

Statewide, the number of ducks in and coming in to Idaho should be about the same as last year’s good season, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mallards, widgeon, gadwall and teal are at or above long-term averages and Canada geese populations are doing very well.

Idaho will have another late-winter snow goose hunt in February and March.

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