Thursday, April 18, 2024

THE WASHINGTON OUTDOORS REPORT September 29 - October 5

BIRD HUNTING PROSPECTS

Posted

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has published its hunting forecast for this fall.  Here are the highlights when it comes to bird hunting where our readers live:

DISTRICT 1 (Stevens, Ferry, and Pend Oreille Counties):

Grouse numbers have declined in the last 14 years, but hunters should see success similar to recent years, averaging about a bird every other outing.  Look for grouse on little-used Forest Service roads, especially ones gated off to vehicular traffic.

Pheasant hunting is pretty much limited to released birds at the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in Ferry County.  Wild turkeys, on the other hand, are prolific in this part of the state, and the Fall harvest of these birds has increased in recent years.   Forest edges, as well as grass pastures and agricultural fields, are all good places to look for turkey.

Waterfowl hunting should be good, especially along the Pend Oreille River from Newport to Usk, for dabbling and diving ducks, as well as Canada geese.  Early-season hunters also have the chance to harvest wood ducks in the Colville, Kettle Falls, and Pend Oreille River valleys.

DISTRICT 6 (Okanogan County):

Waterfowl hunting doesn’t get much press in a county known primarily for big game. Still, there are a few public places worth hunting near the mouth of the Okanogan River as well as the mainstem Okanogan and Upper Similkameen Rivers.  Public hunting access can be found at the

Washburn Island Unit of the Wells Wildlife Area, the Driscoll-Eyhott Island Unit of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, and the Similkameen-Chopaka Unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area.

Okanogan County has “robust populations” of grouse, and although the number of adults in breeding areas this spring declined due to last year’s extended winter, brood survival was good for the young birds.  Quail populations are also solid in this region, and the spring breeding season for quail was similar to what was seen for grouse here.  Hunters should find quail in lower elevation, tree-lined areas, or shrub steppe in state wildlife areas throughout the county.  Pheasant populations, on the other hand, are fairly minimal.  There will be releases throughout this season at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Hegdal and Kline sites and at the Chiliwist Unit of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area.

The fall turkey season opened up on Sept. 1, and you’ll find good numbers of these birds in flocks throughout the district, especially on private land near agricultural lands.  The best places to hunt are in Game Management Units (GMUs) 204, 215, and 239

DISTRICT 7 (Chelan and Douglas Counties):

According to WDFW, Chelan and Douglas Counties offer some of the best quail hunting in the state.  In the early season, the birds can be found in good numbers in state wildlife areas. Still, better hunting can be found on private lands, especially around orchards, if you can secure permission from landowners to hunt on their property.

Hungarian (or gray) partridge can be found in shrub-steppe habitats in Douglas County, and in 2021, nearly half of the Huns harvested in the state came out of Douglas County.  Nearly 1200 of these birds were harvested statewide that year, about 500 more than average.

Chukar have typically thrived in this part of North Central Washington; on average, 4400 chukar a year are harvested.  However, in 2021, there was a dramatic decline in the chukar harvest here, with only 2345 birds taken by hunters.  It’s thought a heatwave that year stunted chukar numbers, but with relatively mild weather this spring and summer, we will hopefully see an increase in the population of these hardy game birds.

Grouse numbers and the hunters that go after them have both declined in recent years. However, there are still plenty of grouse to be found in GMUs 245, 246, and 251 within Chelan County, as well as GMUs 248 and 266 in Douglas County.  Look for Grouse in forested areas, especially around stands of aspen for ruffed grouse and above where ponderosa pine grows for spruce grouse.

Pheasant hunting has become difficult in the region, and there are only three releases per season at the Swakane and Chelan Butte Wildlife Areas.  The Columbia River provides good late-season duck hunting for dabbling and diving ducks. However, remember you are not allowed to hunt on the river between the George Sellar and Odabashian Bridges. 

DISTRICT 9 (Klickitat County):

Turkey populations remains very healthy in Klickitat County, and this should be a good year to harvest a gobbler.  The season opened on Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 31.  According to WDFW, 221 turkeys were harvested last Fall with a success rate of 35 percent by hunters.  The number of birds harvested has increased significantly from 2019 to 2021, where the annual harvest was between 150 and 164 birds.

If you want to find out more about hunting prospects in our region, go to the Hunting page at www.wdfw.wa.gov .

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com


 

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