We knew we couldn’t stay up late enough to bring in the new year properly, so instead we decided to go goose hunting in Toppenish. It wasn’t too bad going up Oregon Highway 84 and over the pass on the Washington side. As we dropped into Toppenish, there were 3 inches of snow on the ground and it was cold.
The next morning, the temperature had dropped to 2 degrees. The guys hunted ducks in the running water of local irrigation canals and collected 15 ducks, both mallards and wood ducks.
Then we spread goose decoys and waited for the birds to start flying. There were plenty of honkers in the air, but that’s all that they wanted to do — fly and not settle down.
After about an hour of sitting in our blind and finishing our meager supply of blackberry brandy, we decided the inside of the truck and a heater looked mighty inviting. Two of us drove around the property looking for quail, but it was even too cold for that, as the birds remained under the protection of the snow and cover of the brush. On Sunday morning we awoke to heavy snowfall and called an end to our trip.
Getting out in nature has always been my thing, but as I get older it seems that the cold gets
colder and the less I enjoy it. In three days it never got warmer than 12 degrees. No matter how warmly we dressed, it was never enough.
For those thinking of going to Eastern Washington, let me say that the northern ducks and geese are there by the thousands. But keeping a person’s thinning blood at a comfortable temperature is a hassle. It’s a younger man’s sport. Maybe the weather will warm up before the end of the season and we’ll give it another try. In the meantime, sitting by a warm fire with a good book or clamming close to home look like wise alternatives.
Last week’s clam season opener began with big surf. A lot of clammers ran up the beach to escape the water. On Friday the surf laid down and made for a much safer beach experience. Clams were readily accessible, many limits were taken, and the clams averaged about 4 inches. The next dig has not yet been announced.
Informed sources have indicated that WDFW and ODFW have conducted net tests that have shown very few juvenile sturgeon in the Columbia River, which diminishes the chance of a 2016 season.
Ron Malast can be reached at 665-3573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.