“Moby Duck seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!”
That’s the tale told in southwest Washington, where Karl Shaffer, pro-staffer for Avery Outdoors reported that a white-phase duck was spotted and has become the obsession of some area hunters. Meanwhile, Shaffer noted an uptick in goose numbers–mostly larger varieties of Canada geese with a few whitefronts–and plenty of ducks, too.
“Mallard numbers are very good, as well as pintails and greenwing teal,” he said. “Ducks have responded well to decoys if the spread has movement in it.”
In the Columbia Basin, Abel Cortina of the Washington Waterfowl Association provided this photo from a recent successful outing. He said the birds are in the Basin, but the mild weather has kept them working on their tans around the pools.
“Weather continues to be a factor,” he explained. “It’s been a little warm. The ducks have arrived but are not being pressured to move. It’s making hunting a little tough here. We need some more cold snaps to move the birds.”
Farther east, Avery pro-staffer Allen Riggs in Elk, Wash., would be happy to have a few more lazy birds lounging around.
“We’re not seeing many new birds at all; the number of mallards and Canada geese is below average for this time of year,” Riggs reported. “Migrations seem to have slowed significantly, and action is less than stellar. Hunters are working harder for smaller harvests. We’re waiting for the next big push of ducks and geese to migrate through the area.”
South of the Columbia, Oregon hunters are faring a bit better as the mild weather has kept ducks and geese in areas such as the Klamath Basin, where guide Darren Roe said birds abound.
“Hunting has been fantastic. All the ducks are still here–mallards, pintails, wigeon, and teal, with a few gadwalls. The divers are in on the big lakes like crazy. Tons of geese, too. The lessers showed up around mid-November.”
Roe said the only ice he’s seen was on Thanksgiving morning, when the young boys he took out both bagged their limits of ducks by 8:15.
“It’s been raining like crazy and there’s a lot of food,” Roe noted. “These birds are not going to go south until they have to. I don’t see it slowing down for ducks or geese in the Klamath Basin for the rest of the season.
Inland in the Northwest, Avery pro-staffer Jeremiah Pope in Meridian, Idaho, said that hunting has been great in the Gem State.
“No ice has formed yet,” he reported. “Feeding conditions on the water are really good with the mild temperatures we’re having, and recent rain has got the birds into a steady feeding pattern. Puddlers and divers are still showing up. Greater and lesser Canada geese are here in abundance. A cold front is moving in this week, and I expect new birds to arrive with it.”
Farther south, Rob Friedel in Hooper, Utah, reported that waterfowl hunting there has been a fly-by-night operation.
“Birds are moving a little later because we have had some of the sheet water freezing overnight,” he said. “With the recent full moon and clear skies, the evening flight has been past legal hours.”
Guide Ron Lara of Western Wildlife Adventures in northern California believes the storms to the north are making the outlook sunnier down south.
“I went out to my club in Willows over the weekend, and there were quite a few birds moving down from the north in the storms, which is customary this time of year,” he said. “I was able to take my limit on Saturday, and it was a mixed bag of sprig, wigeon, and a spooney.” Lara offered this photo of a friend’s “Royal”–five greenheads and two bull sprigs.
Elsewhere in the Sacramento Valley, Curt Wilson of Avery Outdoors has tried to make hay while the sun shines.
“We’ve been pounded by rain and wind over the last week,” he said. “It’s resulted in some flooding and the closing of some refuges for hunting. The weather did break mid-morning on Sunday when I was already out. I saw lots of ducks and geese flying around, and they are fairly spread out due to the amount of rain we have had. The area I like to hunt did finally get enough water to start hunting. I ended up killing five mallards and a gadwall. I didn’t shoot well, and I should have killed a seven-bird limit of mallards. Once the sun came out, the birds really started working well and finishing in my spread of 10 decoys. The rest of the season is looking pretty good right now, but only time will tell.”