By Bill Monroe, WF360 Pacific Flyway Migration Editor
Duck hunting has been improving in Oregon in recent days, especially for those willing to scout and locate birds. Most of the action is on the Oregon coast right now, but there are still plenty of birds that have yet to arrive from the north.
"We really haven't had a good enough cold front or storm yet," says Eric Strand, co-owner of S2 outfitters in Scappoose, along the lower Columbia River, and a recent third-place finisher in the World Goose Calling Championship in Easton, Maryland. "We've had a very stale weather pattern and some new birds are just now starting to show up on Sauvie Island. But the coast is holding a bunch of birds."
Strong winter storms will eventually bring more waterfowl into the Willamette Valley and the upper Columbia Basin, but recently the most impressive numbers of ducks have been on the lower Columbia River near the coast and south to Alsea Bay.
Good duck hunting reports have been coming from the marshes bordering Siletz, Tillamook and Nehalem bays. Thousands of birds are also resting on refuge areas on Sauvie Island, a public hunting area near Portland. Hunting has been slow from Arlington to Umatilla in the upper Columbia Basin. Keep an eye on plunging temperatures next week in northeast Washington, Alberta and southeast British Columbia. If the freeze-up finally takes hold, late November and early December will see more birds in the Basin.
Meanwhile, duck hunters continue to do relatively well at Summer Lake in southeast Oregon as well as in the Klamath Basin, where ducks are concentrated on drought-depleted reservoirs and marshes.
Goose season is closed in northwest Oregon until November 23. Goose hunting has been slow across the rest of the state, as hunters wait for northern flights to arrive. However, a few good reports have come from the Boardman area, and goose hunting should improve generally in the upper Columbia Basin over the next few weeks.
Bill Monroe is an Oregon-based freelance writer who has hunted the Pacific Flyway for three decades. Monroe will provide hunting and habitat reports throughout the Pacific Flyway for the 2013-2014 waterfowl season.