Outdoors Blog

Youth and senior bird hunters take to field starting this weekend

   The 2014 two-day special September youth (under age 16) bird hunt is this weekend (Sept. 20-21), then beginning Monday, Sept 22 pheasant hunters age 65 and older have a five-day stint in upland game-bird venues to themselves.

The youth hunting weekend is open at all licensed hunters under the age of 16 but they must be accompanied by an adult age 18 or older who is not hunting.

For this young gun opportunity, besides pheasants, forest grouse, doves (both the native mourning and deleterious Eurasian collared species) and band-tailed pigeons (with special written authorization) with their seasons already open  are fair game as are most  waterfowl (coot, ducks and geese). Quail and partridge game species are 'huntable' by youthful hunters in Eastern Washington, but are off-limits to them west of the Cascades. The species known as common snipe are not on the fair game list either.

All Washington bird hunting grounds, especially for ducks and geese, on both public and private (with permission) lands are available for the Saturday/Sunday hunt. In Whatcom and Skagit counties, considerable action, especially for released pheasants, will be focused on several popular publicly owned fish and wildlife department venues including the:

  • Lake Terrell Unit (Whatcom Wildlife Area) best for pheasants and waterfowl. It’s located west of Ferndale.
  • Alcoa/Intalco Unit (Whatcom Wildlife Area) best for pheasants with some waterfowl. It’s located west of Ferndale, too.
  • Nooksack Unit (Whatcom Wildlife Area) for waterfowling only. It’s located west, northwest of Bellingham between Marine Drive and Slater Road.
  • Samish Unit (Skagit Wildlife Area) predominantly for pheasants. It’s located west of Edison.
  • Headquarters Unit (Skagit Wildlife Area) best for waterfowl only. It’s located on Fir Island west of Conway.
  • Smith Farm/Leque Island Unit (Skagit Wildlife Area) for waterfowl only. It’s located south of the General mark Clark bridge west of Stanwood.

Ring-neck quarry for the Saturday and Sunday youth upland hunts have been released only on the Lake Terrell and Alcoa-Intalco units of Whatcom Wildlife Area as well as the Samish Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area. Pheasants will be released Friday and Saturday evenings and again on Tuesday evening (for the senior hunt) at these sites.

A wheelchair accessible on the water hunting blind, exclusively reservable for registered hunters with disabilities, is located at Lake Terrell. To secure it, call Whatcom Wildlife Area Manager Richard Kessler at 360 739-3404.

With a little lead time (likely for Sunday), young pheasant hunters who do not have a dog to hunt behind, possibly could be matched with a volunteer handler and canine nose also by calling Kessler.

The general Western Washington pheasant hunting season with its designated release sites starts Saturday, Sept. 27.

In lieu of a regular Washington hunting license, all pheasant hunters can purchase a Western Washington Pheasant Permit under which they may pursue ring-necks only. Some version of a Washington small game hunting license is required to pursue and shoot all other gamebirds and crows.

For more about these bird hunting opportunities, read Sunday Outdoors column in the morning.