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Waterfowling by canoe is budget hunter’s dream trip

HUNTING — John Roland retrieves my duck while we were waterfowling by canoe today. 

Who needs a dog?

Best of all, after the hunt I sent him back to his master and let her feed him.

Waterfowl hunting website compiles watershed of info

WATERFOWLING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has a new waterfowling website ready for hunters to take advantage of the best forecast fall flight of ducks since 1955 — and the foul weather that's ushering them southward and into our region.

The site has information for new or returning waterfowl hunters, ranging from the basics of duck and goose identification to details on hunting locations, equipment, licensing requirements and handling harvested waterfowl.

One portion of the site is devoted to helping hunters zero in on places to hunt waterfowl. The information isn't necessarily specific. Hou'll still have to go out and do your homework. 

The site also is a quick stop for hunters checking on waterfowl regulations and seasons, especially for the more confusing seasons for Canada geese. Goose management in much of Estern Washington restricts hunting to Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, but late fall and winter bring added opportunity on holidays including the Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 24-25, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16.

Last chance for online survey on allowing electronic duck decoys in WA

WATERFOWLING — Wednesday is the dealine for hunters to let the state know whether they want to head down the slippery slope of allowing electronic decoys for waterfowling.

Several waterfowl hunting guides have petitioned the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider allowing electronic decoys for waterfowl hunting starting in 2012.

The agency is approaching this petition by asking hunters (WILD ID requierd to vote) to comment by Nov. 16 in an online survey on this single question:

 
 
This survey is a followup to the first round of hunting proposals presented in late summer. See the results from more than 3,000 respondents to the previous survey on hunting proposals for 2012-14.
 

Hunters asked to vote on electronic decoys, East-West elk tags

HUNTING – Hunters have until Nov. 16 to comment in an online survey on two new proposals for 2012 hunting regulations being considered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Electronic decoys: Several waterfowl hunting guides have petitioned the state to consider allowing electronic decoys for waterfowl hunting starting in 2012.  Vote here.

East-West elk tags: Some elk hunters want to elminate the East Side-West Side elk tag designations they can apply for special permits on both sides of the state. Vote here.

Have your WILD ID from your hunting or fishing license ready in order to complete the one-question surveys.

More than 3,000 people participated this summer and fall in the online scoping survey on the first round of proposals for the 2012-2014 huning seasons.  See the results.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission will consider the refined proposals this winter.

Veteran artist’s wood duck painting wins 2011-2012 Duck Stamp contest

WETLANDS CONSERVATION — Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minn., won the 2011 Federal Duck Stamp Contest on Saturday with his acrylic painting of a single wood duck.

Hautman has previously won the contest three times, in 1991, 2001 and 2007. His art will be made into the 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp, which will go on sale July 1, 2012.

The federal migratory bird stamp program has raised $750 million for wetlands conservation since its inception in 1934. The money has been used, among other things, to preserve 5 million acres of wetlands habitat important not only to ducks and geese, but also to a wide range of other wildlife.

See a video about the Duck Stamp Contest here.

I'll be writing more about the current status of the Duck Stamp program and why waterfowl hunters and other wildlife and wetlands cconservationists should be paying particularly close attention this year.

Misprint corrected in IFG waterfowl hunting time chart

WATERFOWLING — Idaho Fish and Game officials say the time chart on Page 11 in the 2011-2012 Waterfowl Seasons and Rules book has some incorrect times for five days in January in southern Idaho area.

The opening times on January 22 through 27 in the column for Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley and Washington counties and part of Idaho County, all in the Mountain Time Zone areas are off by three hours.

The correct opening times in those areas are: January 22 - 7:41 a.m.; January 23 - 7:40 a.m.; January 24 - 7:39 a.m.; January 25 - 7:39 a.m.; January 26 - 7:38 a.m.; and January 22 - 7:37 a.m.

The correct closing time for January 27 is 5:49 p.m.

The times for all other days are correct.

For a correct table, see the waterfowl rules on the Fish and Game Web site.

Birders get detail how to distinguish cackling geese from Canadas

WATERFOWLING — Goose hunters have a lot of decisions to make, often in a split second in the dim light of early morning, with wind blowing and rain pelting their faces.

Bird identification is tough in good conditions.  Add these factors and …. well, it's really tough.

Daily limits of dusky and cackling geese are reduced to help protect their struggling populations, yet they often fly in groups with plentiful Canada geese.

Read on for some pre-season reading for conservation-minded waterfowlers.

Cold water a major safety factor for waterfowlers

WATERFOWLING — Water does not have to be near freezing to kill, it only has to be colder than a person to cause potentially fatal hypothermia.

With the waterfowl seasons about to open, Idaho Fish and game officials are urging waterfowl hunters who hunt from boats are to wear life jackets and take necessary safety precautions when on the water.

Nationwide last year, 15 hunters lost their lives in boating accidents. Eleven victims drowned because they were not wearing life jackets, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation reports. Overloaded boats and failure to wear life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year.

Cold water wicks body heat 25 times faster than air at that same temperature. A hunter who falls in has only a few minutes before the cold renders numb numb and unable to swim.

Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keeps even an unconscious person stay afloat. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly.

Read on for more timely tips:

Ducks Unlimited raising wetland funds at Northern Quest BBQ

CONSERVATION — With waterfowlers gearing up for the fall general season start (Oct. 15), the West Plains Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is sponsoring BBQ buffet dinner and fundraising auction Oct. 6 at Northern Quest Casino.

Many species of wildlife benefit from the work of DU and the generosity of sportsmen and other conservationist to preserve and restore wetland habitats.

Buy tickets online by Oct. 1 for a chance on $100 Duck Bucks to use on the Live Auction!

Read on for details.

DU encourages waterfowls to double up on Duck Stamps

WETLANDS CONSERVATION – Ducks Unlimited is asking duck hunters and other waterfowl enthusiasts to “double up for the ducks” by purchasing two federal duck stamps this year.

“The federal duck stamp has been an important tool in waterfowl habitat conservation for 77 years, but its ability to purchase and conserve important waterfowl habitat has been greatly diminished by inflation and rising land prices,” DU CEO Dale Hall said. “The purpose of the ‘Double Up for the Ducks’ campaign is to show that hunters support the program and are willing to pay more for the duck stamp in order to conserve waterfowl habitat. We view the duck stamp as an investment in conservation, not as a tax on hunters.”

This effort is part of a larger campaign currently being led by Ducks Unlimited to increase the price of the federal duck stamp.

Read on for details.

Out of the blue, commission to consider battery-operated decoys

WATERFOWL HUNTING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider a petition to allow use of battery-powered spinning-wing decoys for hunting during a special conference call meeting Friday, 8:30 a.m.

This didn't come up at the recent meeting the Fish and Wildlife Department had on new rules for upcoming hunting seasons.

The only way the public can listen to the discussion — travel to the Fish and Wildlife Department's Olympia headquarters and listen on the speaker phone.

Idaho sets fall waterfowl hunting seasons

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a 107-day waterfowl season for 2011-2012 during its meeting Wednesday.

A youth hunt was set for Sept. 24-25.

Read on for other details of bag limits and other seasons that begin in October.

Youths get shot at Turnbull ducks

HUNTING — For the second time since 1937, youngsters can apply for limited permits to participate in a two-day youth waterfowl hunt this fall at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will restrict the hunters under 16 to about eight hunting sites during Washington’s youth waterfowl season, Sept. 24-25.

Two youth hunters accompanied by one or two non-hunting adults will be allowed at each site. The hunters must have state small game and waterfowl licenses.

Hunters will be selected in a random drawing.

Applications will be accepted Aug. 1-15.

Apply on a U.S. Postal Service postcard. 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 S. Smith Road, Cheney, WA 99004.

The Spokane Chapter of the Washington Waterfowl Association will conduct a workshop the week prior to the hunt to help the youths select hunting sites and provide waterfowl identification and hunting tips.

Info: 235-4723; fws.gov/turnbull/

Washington waterfowl calling competition open to all callers

HUNTING– A waterfowl calling contest coming up in the Tri-Cities will give the open division winner an all-expense-paid trip to the hallowed quacking grounds of the World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, Ark.

The sanctioned Washington Duck Calling Championships are set for Aug. 6-7 at Wholesale Sports in Kennewick, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association.

In addition to the Open Duck competition, the event has eight other contests and divisions for duck, goose, youth and  two-person competition.

Info: Abel Cortina, (509) 786-9196, email abelcortina@gmail.com.

Read on for details on the divisions.