By WAYNE KRUSE
The weather hasn’t been ducky since the state’s waterfowl season opened last weekend, but despite blue skies and a lack of wind, duck hunters have generally downed more birds than they did on last year’s opener.
Hunting pressure was moderate to heavy in the Columbia Basin which, as usual, provided the opener’s best success rates. WDFW biologist Mark Quinn, in Ephrata, said a good local hatch this spring provided an average of 3.14 ducks per hunter, among 373 persons checked, as opposed to an average of 2.6 birds last year. Down the Crab Creek valley in the Desert Wildlife Area, the average of 2.5 ducks per hunter also beat out last year’s 2.1 average.
Mike Meseberg, at MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir, said there’s a lot of interest in duck hunting this year, and that free-lance, budget-minded waterfowlers have been scoring well by walking into the sand dunes area on the north end of the reservoir, or into some of the ponds and smaller lakes in the “seep lakes” group below O’Sullivan Dam. Meseberg (509-765-5061) has free advice and maps of the seep lakes.
Pheasant hunters probably faired a little better this year than last, as well. Quinn said pheasant enhancement efforts by the state and cooperating farmers resulted in relatively good ringneck hunting, particularly along the Adams/Grant county line, where there has been substantial upland bird habitat restoration and hunter access effort.
Quail and chukar hunting was particularly good in Douglas and Chelan counties. A department pre-season count showing record quail populations on the Bridgeport Bar Wildlife Area resulted in high hunting pressure and excellent harvest rates.
Upland bird and waterfowl hunters in the southeast portion of the state were few and far between, according to WDFW personnel. So were early muzzleloader deer/elk hunters, although a check of six hunters in the Threeforks GMU of Stevens and Pend Oreille counties showed three whitetails hanging.
Pheasant hunters in the Yakima Valley found slow shooting, according to wildlife program manager Lee Stream, who is based in Yakima. Some 77 hunters were checked with 23 pheasant, a harvest below last year’s opener. Chukar and quail hunters fared better, and waterfowlers averaged an impressive four ducks per gun.
Closer to home, Skagit Wildlife Area manager John Garrett reported excellent local waterfowl hunting for the opener, despite less than ideal weather, with many limits checked.
Team Retrieve, an organization designed specifically for the retriever enthusiast, has upgraded its web site (www.teamretrieve.com) and invites all retriever folks to give it a try. The site offers a number of services, from simple encouragement and a sense of excitement about retrievers, to educational opportunities and web-based business services.
Our locally-produced television fishing show, Fisherman’s Heaven, checked in for its 2000 season yesterday on KVOS TV-12, Bellingham. The show is available via regular antennae from British Columbia to southern Washington each Saturday at 5:30 a.m., for 26 weeks. The show’s co-host, Kevin Erickson, of Monroe, says it will also be aired nationally on the Senior America Network, part of the Dish Network, starting in November.
The show takes a much more modern, lively, humorous look at the Northwest fishing scene than stodgy approaches of the past.
“This is more than just ‘fishing footage,’ ” Erickson says. “Each program unfolds as a well-crafted story and takes you along for the ride, putting you inside the action like no other outdoor program. We know it will get you laughing, rocking, and talking.”
More information is available on the show Web site, www.fishermansheaven.com.