By Capt. Ron Malast
The 2011-12 waterfowl season is fast coming to a conclusion in the state of Washington. Except for special hunts, the season for migratory birds such as ducks will end Jan. 31.
For duck hunters, the season on Willapa Bay was a very good one with most of the ducks sticking around through the month of December. For those who also hunt in eastern Washington, the season was fine for pheasant and quail, but the northern birds did not show up until just last week. Reports this week from Granger, Yakima, Toppenish and Zillah are that the migratory northerns have just arrived and in big numbers. With three weeks to go, a group of us are heading over this weekend to hunt the fringes of the Yakima River and also do some jump shooting.
The highs in that area are forecast to be from 33 to 40 degrees and lows in the 20- to 30-degree range. With those kinds of temperatures its time for warm waders, Rivers West camo jackets, insulated gloves, insulated socks, a sweatshirt and a good wool hat. Never to be one who enjoyed freezing while sitting in a blind, I will be warm forever.
One fringe benefit of the duck hunting will be quail hunting at mid-day while the ducks are resting. And hopefully, with a little snow on the ground, we can also get in a bit of varmint hunting for coyotes. Farmers are grateful for varmint hunters because those coyotes are real predators of quail, baby pheasant and other upland bird eggs.
Strangely enough, even with the cold weather there are still some Eurasian collared doves hanging around. These are much larger than the mourning dove and can be taken year-round with a Washington hunting license. Mourning doves can only be taken during September seasons.
My choice of shotguns for hunting quail is a 30-year-old Beretta over/under 12 gauge with 26-inch barrels, which enables me to swing very quickly on these very quick-flying birds.
My duck gun over decoys is a Beretta automatic 12-gauge, 3-inch with 28-inch barrels and interchangeable chokes.
Of course in my opinion, a good retriever is the essence of hunting. They not only add tremendously in finding lost birds, locating and flushing upland birds, but also are a tremendous joy to watch doing the job they love to do. There can be no greater elation in pride of ownership than having a good bird dog.
Yes, Ron Spanman, I received your email and acted upon it.
Ron Malast can be reached at 665-3573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.