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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

November 16, 2011 at 9:08 AM

State Fish and Wildlife says to expect the best waterfowl hunting seen in a longtime

I knew this hunting season for waterfowl was supposed to be good, but I didn’t know it was going to be the best in more than half a century.

According to state Fish and Wildlife officials this season may offer the best opportunity in over 50 years as waterfowl hunting moves into the traditionally most productive part of the year.

“Waterfowl biologists are predicting the best fall flights of migrating ducks since 1955,” Greg Schirato, deputy director of state Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Program said in a news release. “The opportunities haven’t been this good in most hunters’ lifetimes.”

Schirato said the bounty is due to good rainfall in northern waterfowl breeding grounds last summer, as well as favorable conditions here for duck and goose production.

The expected abundance of birds makes this a good season for waterfowl hunters to introduce newcomers to the sport, he said.

State Fish and Wildlife has launched a new waterfowl hunting feature on its website to offer 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.

The department also has been working to increase land access for waterfowl hunting, Schirato said.

“We’ve been working hard to provide places to hunt on state-managed lands and working with land owners to open private lands to hunting,” he said.

Waterfowl hunting opportunities increase as the season progresses, Schirato noted, with influxes of migrant birds and added hunting days.

Goose management in much of eastern 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.

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