Maybe it can be blamed on global warming or too little rain, or a colder than normal spring, but whatever the reason, the pheasant season in Eastern Washington has been a pretty poor one so far.
The hunters I’ve talked to found very few birds where they were used to seeing plenty in years past.
Ben wasn’t able to go, so I stayed in Sammamish with him and the family when members of his wife’s family headed out towards Spokane. It turned out to be a fortunate thing for me, because the six guys we would have gone with shot just four birds total between them.
I located a duck hunter who told me that he will keep track of when the Harlequin ducks show up and let me know. I suppose I should check with a taxidermist to see what a mount would cost just in case I come up with one of those beautiful drakes.
Sam told me there is an ocean flat where the harlequins really bunch up and that getting one should not be too difficult depending on the weather and his schedule.
I really don’t like shooting a bird that I am not interested in putting on the table, but this will be the rare exception if I get my drake.
Sam will be taking me hunting for puddle ducks later this week. I got just a little excited when he told me we would probably see quite a few gadwalls.
I have never taken one of them. If mounting costs are not excessive for the Harlequin, I might consider a nice drake Gadwall to go with it, but nothing certain there.
He also told me we could do some diver hunting a little later this fall. He has a spot that is good for golden eyes. That wouldn’t be a big deal to me except that these are the western species, Barrow’s Golden eyes.
That’s another duck that I have never taken, but I have no intention of getting it mounted, and yes, if I shoot one I will eat it if for no other reason than to know what they taste like. I can pretty much guarantee it won’t taste like chicken.
Sam also mentioned that they get quite a few scaup (bluebills) and some redheads, but they also get good flights of ring neck ducks, better known as ring bills. They are divers, but in my experience they are the best eating of all the diving clan. I am hoping to run into a few of them out here.
I envy the guys who can afford to travel around the different North American flyways to hunt ducks and geese in different states and legendary locations.
Some of them even travel to other countries and continents to pursue their passion for hunting waterfowl. I would not turn down the opportunity to hunt the pin oaks of Stuttgart, Ark. if it was ever offered to me, but it isn’t on my bucket list.
One thing I have come to enjoy in the last few years is reading anthologies of stories written about duck hunting many years ago by earlier outdoor writers. They hunted areas that I will probably never see let alone hunt.
Their exploits are replete with descriptions of arduous travel, rude accommodations, questionable boats, dangerous situations, decoys, guides, and almost as a side line, shooting.
Those writers were so good that I live the moments with them vicariously, crawling out of a warm bed at three in the morning, smelling the coffee and the bacon, feeling the biting cold of the blinds as the bottom drops out of the thermometer, wishing flights of distant ducks would turn our way for at least one pass.
It is almost as good as actually being there.
But here I am in the present in a new duck hunting location, about to make more memories of my own. Will they be as good or as vivid as the hunts of old? Only time will tell, but I’ll try to fill you in when the time comes.
On a completely different note. I don’t plan on doing any deer hunting in Washington; it’s just too doggone expensive, but I did enjoy seeing a beautiful 8-point buck last Sunday.
There are lots of black tailed deer around the area where Ben lives, and I’ve seen quite a few does and a spike horn buck within a mile of his home.
I don’t know if there are any white tails around here, but I think they are mostly east of the mountains. I have to admit that I have been very disappointed by the cost of all the Washington non-resident licenses.
New York state non-resident tags are a bargain by comparison. I wouldn’t pay the price for a Washington deer license even if I knew I could bag the biggest buck in the state.
And that’s the way it is here in Sammamish, WA.