Is it chilly out? You bet it is! With a plunge in temperatures and recent snowfall, it’s definably time for winter clothes, especially for those of us planning outdoor activities.

Duck and goose migrations have definitely kicked into high gear. The best hunting opportunities are upon us between now and season ending dates in January 2017.

Although the commercial crab opener in Washington waters off the mouth of the Columbia River has been delayed, a check with WDFW indicates there have been no closures in Washington waters for recreational crabbing in the Columbia River itself. So, if you can get out and not freeze to death, this would be a good time to crab around the tip of A jetty and under the lighthouse.

WDFW has announced they will launch a new system to sell hunting and fishing licenses and the Discovery Pass later this month. They advise WDFW will shut down its current system on the evening of Dec. 17 and resume sales Dec. 19. Hunters and anglers should be sure to buy their licenses before 6 p.m. Dec. 17 if they plan to be on the water or in the field the next day. Licenses will be available in mid-January for the 2017-18 hunting and fishing seasons that begin April 1. Hunters are also reminded to report their harvest online at WDFW website or by calling 1-877-945-3492. The hunter reporting service will be unavailable during the transition.

WDFW is offering a $9,000 reward for the poachers or poacher who gunned down five elk in a canyon near Ellensburg last month. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call 1-877-933-9847.

The most recent pledge came from The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which is offering $5,000 for information for an arrest and conviction in the case. Previously, the Northwest Chapter of Safari Club offered $1,000 reward, while Conservation Northwest offered $3,000.

For its part, WDFW is offering 10 bonus points for special permit hunts to anyone providing information leading to a conviction.

Capt. Bob Weaver of WDFW noted that the person or persons responsible for the killings could be charged with a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. He noted that the poachers found guilty in these cases often face civil penalties, including the value of the elk.

Ron Malast can be reached at 360-665-3573

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