Washington (And Witkowski) Waterfowl Report

The waterfowl hunting’s not the greatest across the Evergreen State, but Jack’s sure getting a workout.

That would be Jack, the chocolate Lab.

Course, any fowl hound owned by a pretty sharp duck and goose hunter by the name of Jeff Witkowski in Chelan is going to get work in winter and fall.

Of late, the duo has been out banging around the west side of the Columbia Basin finding some mallards and Canadas.

But when Jeff sent me some nice shots of Jack this week, he may have done it moreso because his faithful friend is getting up there.

“I know any bird pics I send you now won’t be useful to you till next season, but this is Jack’s 12th year, he is really slowing down, he wants to get on the cover just one more time before he is done,” Jeff wrote me on Monday. “Sunday, only 2 mallards deked all day, got ’em both (I’m not griping, drake was banded) and only one flock of geese deked. Got 4 with 3 shots. All lessers but I will take ’em. I have been doing 4 for 3 shots 4 to 5 times every season lately on geese, have been really lucky. Yesterday was my b-day, Jack and I jump shot this really nice limit, greenheads and a drake pin. Cool b-day present. Well, time to go flail again. Take care.”

JACK WITH A BANDED MALLARD. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

THE OLD DOG'S LIMIT. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

After yesterday’s successful hunt, Jeff wrote again. “Nifty double on mallards today and the hen was banded! 2 bands in 3 days? God digs me!”

TWO BANDS IN THREE DAYS FOR JEFF AND JACK. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

GRIZZLED VETS FROM THE 2009-10 WATERFOWL CAMPAIGN. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

Elsewhere in Eastern Washington, with waterfowl hunting continuing through January, WDFW’s waterfowl specialist Mikal Moore in Ephrata notes “unsettled weather” in the Columbia Basin has caused unpredictable waterfowl movements, according to today’s Weekender report from the agency.

“Large flights of mallards and northern pintails can be seen coming off the irrigation wasteways, Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake near dusk to feed on corn stubble fields,” Moore said. “Goose hunters report having to work hard to get their birds, though overall goose numbers seem to be increasing in the area, particularly western Canada geese, or ‘honkers’.  The geese prefer feeding in disked corn, alfalfa, and winter wheat fields, but tend to avoid fields with tall stubble or poor visibility.”

WDFW district wildlife biologist Rich Finger of Moses Lake reports recent rain showers have removed much of the snow cover in the lower elevations south of Ephrata in the Columbia Basin.

“Considerable pooling of water has occurred in the agricultural lands due to frozen ground,” Finger said.  “Most non-moving water is still frozen solid and will likely remain so for the remainder of the waterfowl season.  Geese are abundant between Moses Lake and Othello and mallards seem to be scattered throughout the Basin in relatively low numbers.”

Moore notes that the annual mid-winter waterfowl aerial survey is scheduled this month and results will be posted as soon as available on WDFW’s northcentral region webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/reg/eventopp/events2.htm.

Across the Cascades, WDFW reports:

Snow geese are plentiful in the (North Sound), and hunting for the birds has recently improved, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl manager. Kraege encourages eligible hunters to hunt for snow geese at the quality hunt units on Fir Island and in Stanwood. “Not a lot of hunters who have signed up for the quality hunts are currently using those areas, which should provide great hunting opportunities for snow geese throughout January,” he said.

Hunters must have written authorization to hunt for snow geese in Goose Management Area 1 and written authorization to hunt the quality hunt units. Hunters also must possess a Washington small game hunting license and a state migratory bird validation, as well as a federal migratory bird stamp.

For more information on the quality hunt units and the quality hunt program visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/snow_goose .

WDFW will soon make an announcement on whether the tentatively scheduled brant hunt in Skagit County will open. Aerial surveys of brant populations have been delayed by weather, but should take place in the next several days, said Kraege. At least 6,000 brant must be counted in Skagit County before hunting is allowed. Hunters should keep checking WDFW’s website for an announcement on the season, which is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 16, 17, 20, 23, 24, 27, 30 and 31.

Meanwhile, the brant hunting season in Pacific County is just around the corner. That hunt is scheduled for Jan. 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 24.

POSTSCRIPT:  After I posted this piece Wednesday afternoon, I fired the URL over to Jeff. Guess what he and Jack were up to yesterday? Yup.

A GROWLER FOR LAB JACK. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

This morning he’s out scouting for the next hunt, “maybe jump shoot a little. Same routine, day after day- scout, hunt, sleep- scout, hunt, sleep… Will it ever end? HAHA.”

“By the way,” Jeff asks, “just who ya calling ‘grizzled?'”

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One Response to “Washington (And Witkowski) Waterfowl Report”

  1. Well-known Lab Passes Away « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] This past January, the hunter noted his hound was getting up there in age and was beginning to slow down. […]

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