Now that a few preseason tilts have offered a tease and a season preview for waterfowl season in the Pacific Flyway this fall, it’s time to kick off the regular season.
Western waterfowlers got a taste of the treats in store during early goose seasons and youth waterfowl hunting weekends in September, and they can now set their sights on the general season openers in early October. By all accounts it should be a stellar opening to a banner season, as record numbers of ducks and geese arrive from their northern breeding grounds to complement good numbers of resident birds throughout Pacific Flyway states.
Avid duck and goose hunter Steve DeBerry of the Southern Oregon Chapter of Delta Waterfowl sent this photo of the results of a good early season goose hunt, which he hopes to parlay into an even better general season with some private information he’s willing to make public.
“What I would recommend for anyone to do is to ask permission to hunt private land,” DeBerry said. “We were successful by knocking on doors and asking for permission to hunt farmers’ fields. Sure, sometimes you will run into landowners that will say no, but there are a lot of private landowners out there that wouldn’t mind letting you hunt.”
DeBerry enjoys access to a total of about 3,000 acres of private land where he has secured permission to hunt by simply approaching landowners where he has seen geese in fields.
“Some landowners I know will call me to give them a hand either building fences or just by helping them get their hay pickup out of the field,” DeBerry added. “I would also add that being true to your word would build a great relationship between the hunter and landowner. I really don’t think I would have been that successful without having that relationship.”
Pass-shooting offers an alternative to hunting private land. Simply get in their path and catch them coming and going. You have to hit the right spot, though, because birds performing their daily patterns don’t want to give up a good thing by changing their routines. Do some scouting before the general season so you can plot your ambush.
Chris Anderson of Medford was in the right place at the right time to intercept some honkers in the early goose season.
“We noticed the local birds had a pattern of flying between fields and ponds, and their patterns were the same every day,” Anderson said. “They were sticking to their patterns and weren’t decoying well, so we set up to pass-shoot them, and we had some success doing that.”
Wherever you set up in the Pacific Flyway for the opener, you can expect to see low water levels and high birds numbers, according to pro-staffers from Avery Outdoors.
Kent Contreras in Newport, Wash., reported low water levels in the river, sloughs and ponds, but good feeding conditions in area fields.
“Geese have remained steady in the valley, and we should have a good season,” predicted Contreras, who added that the region’s resident duck numbers are solid as well. “Early season hunters did well. A few friends were successful and brought home limits of geese.”
Carl Eckhold in Monmouth, Ore., also reported low water levels in the Willamette Valley,
“Most Canada geese and ducks have been feeding real early in the morning and in the evening, and have been roosting throughout the heat of the day,” reported Eckhold, who noted seeing good numbers of western Canada geese, mallards and wood ducks. “You will see several hundred geese in fields and on ponds at a time. The mallards and wood ducks are just starting to move around a lot. You will only see them in small numbers at a time right now, but numbers will grow as the season moves forward.”
And that won’t be long now.
“The migration has started,” Eckhold added. “I’m seeing more Canadas and hearing specks flying over at times, which makes me believe that it has begun.”
Eckhold emphasized the importance of finding feed to find geese.
“The geese were spread out quite a bit in my area due to the large amounts of wheat fields this year, but if you could find a cut corn field this year, you had a money spot.”
Travis Lyle in western Nevada reported that eastern Nevada has been getting a lot of rain, but not so much in the central and western parts of the state.
“After one of the (mildest) winters on record, the state needs as much wet weather as possible,” Lyle noted. “Water levels are low at most spots. They should be pumping water into some of the hunting areas now.”
Lyle reported seeing good numbers of local geese and ducks, but northern nesters are already arriving.
“We seem to have lots of pintails in the area,” he added.
All of these avid hunters stressed the importance of getting out and doing some last-minute scouting so you can put yourself in position to make the most of your season opener.