Migration Alert: Pacific Flyway Hunters Looking for Strong Finish

Jan. 24. 2014 – Pacific Flyway
By Bill Monroe, WF360 Pacific Flyway Migration Editor

Pacific Flyway hunters will face early fog, sunshine, and then clear weather conditions from border to border for the last weekend of the 2013-14 duck season.

With hopes to finish the season strong, waterfowlers throughout the flyway may want to deploy late-season tactics such as, limited calling, pairing decoys, and thorough scouting. 

"You know, they might try what I did about this time last year," says Mark Petrie, director of conservation planning in DU's Vancouver, Washington office. "Head for the coast and find permanent tidal water. There are tons of pintails and other birds coming from the south (California) and they need these areas for feeding and staging."

Petrie reports there's little hope for any major movement of birds before Sunday.

"There are probably 400,000 to 500,000 ducks sitting on big water in Puget Sound right now," Petrie says. "They've become night feeders; there's no reason for them to move." 

In Washington's upper Columbia Basin, conditions are also unchanged, with rafted ducks, barely freezing overnight temperatures and little or no wind in the forecast. Scouting is paramount, but by this time in the season most hunters will have their preferences. Those without access to private land should stick to riverbanks and lakeshores.

Duck season closes Friday in Idaho and is closed in Utah.

Open water is especially the key for interior Oregon and Nevada (Walker Lake is ice-free and was recently mentioned in a DU map report along with Fallon wetlands, where more ducks have been seen recently). Small streams offer some jump-shooting.

Western Oregon hunters will still find birds on limited water in rain-free Willamette and Rogue river valleys and along the coast. Sauvie Island had a decent public hunt Tuesday and will hunt for the last time Saturday.

As Petrie explains, ducks are starting to stage and even move out of California and seem to be moving around a bit more this week in central and northern California, with public hunters still faring well, but birds reported on both sides of the Sacramento River and in the grasslands to the south.

Pacific Flyway waterfowling opportunities will continue as numerous areas and zones in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Utah and Nevada have late seasons for geese, mostly for white-fronted geese and snows, but (in Oregon and southwest Washington) also for Canadas.

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.