Latest from The Spokesman-Review
CONSERVATION — A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate today to increase the price of the federal duck stamp to $25. The current price of $15 was set more than 20 years ago, in 1991.
“We appreciate the introduction of a federal duck stamp increase bill by Senators Begich, Baucus, Coons and Tester to meet very real on-the-ground wetland habitat conservation needs,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall in a statement supporting the action. “We are committed to seeing this legislation signed into law and look forward to working with Senators on both sides of the aisle to enact this.”
Since its enactment in 1934, the federal duck stamp program has protected more than 6 million acres of wetlands – an area the size of Vermont – through expenditures of more than $750 million. This has contributed to the conservation of more than 2.5 million acres in the Prairie Pothole Region, including the protection of 7,000 waterfowl production areas totaling 675,000 acres.
Land values have drastically increased since the last price increase in the 1990s. In Minnesota, for example, land has increased from an average price of $400 to $1,400 an acre since 1998, an increase of 250 percent. While the duck stamp price remains stagnant, the cost to conserve land and habitats that host waterfowl and other species has increased dramatically.
At its current price, the buying power of the federal duck stamp has never been lower over its 79-year history, DU says.
The Congressional Budget Office found that because the federal duck stamp is a user fee, such a price increase would have no net impact on federal spending.
“Once again, sportsmen and women have demonstrated their willingness to pay for conservation by supporting a long-overdue increase from $15 to $25. With 98 cents of every $1 from duck stamp receipts going to conserve wetlands habitat, it is vital that the cost of the stamp keep up with inflation and land acquisition costs,” Hall said.
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:
- For the Boundary Creek and Heyburn hunts, contact Dave Leptich or JJ Teare, (208) 769-1414.
- For the Clark Fork hunt contact Ray Millard, (208) 264-5252.
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.
- Washington's migratory waterfowl hunters will have a general duck season open for 107 days — Oct. 12 - 16 and Oct. 19 - Jan. 26. The youth hunting weekend is set for Sept. 21-22. Surveys in the Pacific Flyway show duck populations are near long-term averages, while goose populations are generally at or above management goals.
Read on for more details about Idaho's upcoming goose hunting seasons:
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.
WATERFOWLING — The Washington State Championship Duck Calling Contest, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association, is set for Aug. 24 in Lacey.
The event includes duck and goose events for open, junior, peewee, novice and two-person categories. Competition will take place at Cabela's, 1600 Gateway Blvd. NE.
Top prize is $1,000 plus qualification for the Nov. 29-30 World's Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, Ark.
Contact: Kurt Snyder, (360) 485-9353, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HUNTING - The former head of an Idaho group whose mission it is to protect ducks is being punished for using illegal methods to hunt them.
Charles D. Steele of Hagerman was sentenced today to a year of supervised probation, a $2,000 fine and 25 hours of community service in U.S. District Court, according to the Associated Press.
On Sept. 25, he pleaded guilty to violating federal bird-protection laws by baiting ducks placing corn on private farmland near Gooding to attract waterfowl — and enhance hunting opportunities.
The 48-year-old Steele is the former president of the Hagerman Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
While on probation, Steele is forbidden to hunt in the United States.
WATERFOWLING — How crazy could it get if Washington had allowed electronic waterfowl decoys?
Check out this video.
HUNTING– Registration is underway for the limited number of spots in the annual Youth Waterfowl Hunting Clinics sponsored by the Idaho Fish and Game Department’s Panhandle Region.
This year’s clinics are set for Sept. 29, when girls and boys ages 15 and under and their parents can learn the basics of hunting waterfowl in mentored hunting situation during the states’s special hunting season just for youths.
Following a morning hunt with experienced waterfowlers, participants will be treated to a free barbeque and skills clinic.
The clinics are limited to 25 participants at three different clinics:
Northern Panhandle Clinic: Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, northwest of Bonners Ferry.
Central Panhandle Clinic: Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area, east of Sandpoint at the Clark Fork Delta drift yard boat ramp.
Southern Panhandle Clinic: Heyburn State Park, northwest of St. Maries at the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Pre-register with J.J. Teare at the Panhandle Region Office, (208) 769-1414.
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.
HUNTING– The 2012 Washington State Duck Calling Championship is Aug. 25, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association, Yakima Valley Chapter.
The event, a qualifier for international competition, will be held at Columbia Park in Kennewick. Contests include:
- Washington state Duck Calling Championship, open only to Washington residents.
- Washington State Goose, open only to Washington residents.
Winners will qualify for the World Duck Calling Championship in Stuggart, Ark.
The event also will seven additional open divisions for duck and goose calling, plus contests for two-person duck and goose, peewee and junior divisions.
Info and registration: Abel A. Cortina (509)786-9196.
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 — Should a hunter ever be excused for killing a trumpeter swan he misidentified as a snow goose?
Here are three notable reasons from Rich Myhre of the Everett Herald:
- Because of their white color, trumpeter swans look a little bit like snow geese. But trumpeter swans are entirely white, while snow geese have black wing tips.
- Trumpeter swans measure 6-8 feet from wing tip to wing tip, while snow geese measure only about 3 feet.
- Most important, snow geese can be hunted during waterfowl season, but there is never a legal time to shoot trumpeter swans.
For additional information about identifying swans, go to www.trumpeterswansociety.org.
WATERFOWLING — Tank, a bruiser black Lab, races back with a mallard drake before the ripples smooth out in the decoys on the Pend Oreille River Saturday.
Temperatures in the teens didn't even nick the the dog's enthusiam for rounding up all the ducks and geese Kent Contreras could bring down from his Avery Outdoors layout blind.
After every retrieve he returned, settled down steady by Contreras and looked out as if to say, “Bring it on.”
The original plan was to hunt a slough that had been luring ducks by the hundreds. But the cold temps sealed the slough in ice, forcing the Newport-area pair to hunt the open water of the river.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
YOUTH HUNTING — A few openings are still available for three mentored waterfowl hunting opportunities for youth aged 15 and under, sponsored byThe Idaho Department of Fish & Game Department.
If you have a kid who might be interested in being exposed into this fascinating sport, don't miss this opportunit y.
The hunts are planned for Saturday, Sept. 24, the opening day of the annual youth-only waterfowl season which is open only to hunters age 15 and under. The mentored hunting clinics will be held at Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, Heyburn State Park, and the Clark Fork River delta.
Participation will be by advanced reservation and space is limited. Anyone interested should call to reserve a spot at one of the three clinics and to obtain additional details.
- For the Boundary Creek and Heyburn hunts, contact Dave Leptich at (208) 769-1414.
- For the Clark Fork hunt contact Ray Millard at (208) 264-5252
Young hunters will need to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult and bring a shotgun and ammunition. Young hunters will also need to secure a youth or small game license ($7.25) with a federal migratory bird permit ($1.75) prior to the event.
Youth participants and a guardian will have the opportunity to spend a morning hunting with an experienced waterfowl hunter. Following a morning hunt, all will be treated to a free barbeque and waterfowl hunting skills clinic.
The idea is to expose youth to a quality hunting experience and provide their guardian with enough training to repeat the experience independently.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is also soliciting experienced waterfowl hunters willing to assist with the clinics. If you want to help pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting, please call either of the numbers listed above.
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.
WATERFOWLING — Duck and goose hunting in Washington this fall will be roughly the same as last year under the season adopted last week by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved.
Statewide duck hunting season will be open Oct. 15-19 and from Oct. 22-Jan. 29.
A special youth hunting weekend is scheduled Sept. 24-25.
Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, scaup, canvasback, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same.
Goose hunting seasons vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 15 and run through January 2012.
Details on the waterfowl hunting seasons will be available later this week on WDFW’s website.
Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S.