Season Summary: Updated February 4, 2016
Name: Allen Riggs
Location: Metaline, WA
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: The weather was a little more extreme this year; we had colder temps earlier than last year. More snow this year and wild temperature swings. Several times this season, we had very cold weather, freezing bodies of water and dumping big amounts of snow. Then, the weather would warm up to unseasonably high temps and make the snow wet and very difficult to navigate.
Winter Snow Summary: Snow accumulations this year were pretty measurable, covering fields and making them impossible for birds to feed in. The weather warmed, making the deep snow very difficult to work in.
Season Water Conditions: Small ponds and creeks froze early, leaving only rivers to hunt. The Pend Oreille River levels were sporadic due to fluctuating dam levels.
Overall Feeding Conditions: There was plenty of feed at the beginning of the season in fields and bodies of water. Once the snow fell, the birds were forced to feed in bodies of water that were not frozen. The feeding conditions this year were not as favorable as last year.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were fewer than last year. Mallard, wigeon and gadwall numbers were way down. When the diving ducks migrated in, there was fewer than last year.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were comparable to last year. The migration came a little later than previous years.
Notable Duck Migrations: Puddle ducks migrated in at very low levels, nothing to get excited about. Diving ducks did migrate; however, the numbers were much lower than last year.
Notable Goose Migrations: Goose numbers increased in December and January.
Overall Hunting Report: Hunting was a little more difficult this year due to low duck numbers. Goose hunting was fair.
Name: Kent Contreras
Location: Newport, Washington
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season was more of an average weather event year. Storms were moving through the area with average snowfalls and temperatures. Early season rains helped to end the drought from summer and a heavy snow pack in the higher elevations has occurred, as compared to last year which had almost no snow pack and very little rains. Typical big weather events happened around Thanksgiving and gave us the first winter like conditions. A very cold December created some poor hunting after freezing the Pend Oreille River for a week or so.
Winter Snow Summary: Snow conditions were average. The valley received snow that has stuck around and likely will not melt until a good spring thaw. A good blanket of snow hit the area around mid-December. Higher elevations have been covered in snow since early November.
Season Water Conditions: The area had experienced a drought over the summer and most ponds and sloughs were very low on water. Some creeks were so dry that birds were not even using them. Early fall conditions brought an end to the drought conditions with some heavy rains and snows. The Pend Oreille River was at its lowest I have ever seen. The river level is maintained by a series of dams and the Army Corps of Engineers regulates the level on a daily basis. There were times the river would drop 12 plus inches in a day or vice versa making hunting hard to predict.
Overall Feeding Conditions: With the drought most birds were sticking with feeding on the river. Fields were dry and not really producing much for a feed source. Late season seemed to pick up as the moisture moved into the area providing more feed sources along the edges of creeks, fields, sloughs and ponds.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: This year was about as good as last year for duck numbers – below average. It seemed like we were waiting more than shooting this year.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: See above comment – same for the geese.
Notable Duck Migrations: Biggest duck migration occurred around the end of December when the diving ducks moved into the area. Puddle ducks moved through the area on a continual basis but not in one giant flight.
Notable Goose Migrations: The geese made big jumps from December through January. A lot of birds have shown up the last part of the season.
Overall Hunting Report: For this area our season was low on harvest numbers but I put that on the fact that I targeted specific birds instead of just shooting everything! Puddle ducks were my birds of choice this season and only shot two days for divers. Goose hunting seemed to be steady and as usual January was great goose hunting. Harvest numbers are about half of what I expect to shoot in a season. Weather was good and we had a typical winter that brought storms in every few days.
Name: Clark Bonner
Location: Medford, OR
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: We had more rain this year than we have had in the last three years combined. The migration was good but the birds were spread out into every parking lot puddle and low spot making hunting them in any great quantity very difficult as there were days where you would shoot and could watch the birds fly across the road and land 300 yards away.
Winter Snow Summary: We hardly had any snow on the valley floor this year.
Season Water Conditions: See above
Overall Feeding Conditions: Due to the massive amount of rain the feeding conditions were outstanding. Every field was a food source and there were more mallards in the valley than I have seen in 10 years.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were higher than last year. But because they were so spread out the hunting was very challenging.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were average until the last week of the season when we got a huge push of lessers and westerns. They decoyed beautifully and I limited on honkers 4 of the last 5 hunts of the season even though I was primarily duck hunting.
Notable Duck Migrations: The duck migration was later than the past 4 years which meant that we had good hunting in January which is unusual but welcomed!
Notable Goose Migrations: See note above.
Overall Hunting Report: Scouting is always important to a successful hunt but this year it was especially critical. Ducks would frequent a field in large numbers until they were hunted there and then they would move on immediately. I burned a lot of fuel this year chasing good locations but in the end had some phenomenal mallard and goose shoots. I’ve killed more ducks and geese in a season before but I can sincerely say that this was my most favorite season of all time. When you could locate the ducks and geese they decoyed like opening day.
Name: Tailor Sponcey
Location: Twin Falls, Idaho
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This season has had much colder weather and a lot more moisture then the past few seasons.
Winter Snow Summary: Around 2 feet in total on valley floor throughout season.
Season Water Conditions: Water conditions were average to below average.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Feeding conditions were average.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers seemed to be up this year compared to previous.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers seemed to be about average.
Notable Duck Migrations: Mallard migration seemed to have higher numbers but diver migration seemed low.
Notable Goose Migrations: Saw more migrating snow geese than ever this year. None stopped in the valley but high numbers moving over.
Overall Hunting Report: Hunting was average this year but hunting pressure was very high compared to normal.
Name: David Harper
Location: Boise, Idaho
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: The trends to the season were about normal this season as far as when they took place, big cool downs in November and December and a warmer and rainy end to season last week. But overall it was a colder year. When the temps dropped off this year they were lower than I’ve seen in a number of years. We had more cold fronts and storms move through this season than the last few as well.
Winter Snow Summary: We picked up around a foot overall through the season though it would usually come in a few inches at a time and melt again before getting more. But it was the most snow I can remember for a number of years.
Season Water Conditions: Water conditions were average around the treasure valley this year with most notable differences being in the Snake River as it was a bit lower than normal seasons.
Overall Feeding Conditions: About the same number of good feed fields this season, maybe even a touch more for thrashed corn. The fields stayed accessible all season with snow never staying around long enough to get deep and freeze over.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Puddle ducks were high this season, the most mallards and wigeons I’ve seen for a while. Pintails and gadwalls seemed down a bit though as did diver species of all varieties.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Canada goose numbers were about average this year and some snows and specks have been found around already.
Notable Duck Migrations: Puddle ducks showed up in large numbers around Thanksgiving and stuck out the season. Divers never really showed, a small number moved in but not near normal.
Notable Goose Migrations: Geese seemed to filter into the valley all season, gaining numbers after every cold front.
Overall Hunting Report: Hunting was good this season for most, especially those that scouted some birds and worked hard. A lot of people were out this season, probably the most hunters in the area that I’ve seen.
Name: Chad Yamane
Location: Layton, Utah
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Our season started out typical with normal weather but we have been in a drought so our water levels were at historic lows. Our freeze up occurred around the normal time in late November. We typically see a January thaw and have some great late season goose hunting but that never happen this year and we still have a significant amount of snow covering the ground.
The one difference that was notable to me this year was the goldeneye migration. 7-10 years ago we used to see huge numbers of goldeneyes on the Great Salt Lake and they usually would bring some sea ducks with them. For some reason the migration numbers dropped and for years we didn’t see very many. This year was different, they showed up in pretty good numbers and we had some days where we targeted them and shot limits of goldeneyes. It was good to see their return and I hope they continue to come back like they used to. It’s always fun to hunt whistlers every once in a while.
Winter Snow Summary: Since early December we have received above normal amounts of snow. We need several winters like this one to bring the Great Salt Lake back to normal levels. Snow pack is looking great and this next year should bring a good amount of runoff into the marshes making for great breeding and nesting conditions locally.
Season Water Conditions: Historic low levels occurred this year on the Great Salt Lake. The Waterfowl Management Impoundments had great water conditions and those improved greatly as at the season went on with the wet winter we have had.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Feed inside the diked units was great with lots of pondweed, duckweed, and invertebrates for food. As the Wasatch front continues to grow the amount of agricultural land turns into houses and we lose feeding fields for geese.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Puddle duck numbers seemed higher this year than last and the divers really never made their appearance in great numbers.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: The goose numbers seemed to be reduced also this year. Guys that typically have access to field feeds are not seeing the birds they usually do.
Notable Duck Migrations: We had our typical end of October migration where the local teal left for Mexico and warmer climates. After that I cannot recall seeing a big push of birds into our area. The swans showed up in average numbers this year and stuck around for quite some time and made for fantastic swan hunts.
Notable Goose Migrations: Nothing to get excited about and in fact I think we lost all our local honks to snow free golf courses and sunshine south of us.
Overall Hunting Report: This year’s hunt overall was better than the past several years. We had our ups and our downs, that is typical but definitely more ups. The swan hunting was as good as I have ever seen it with good movements of birds daily into huntable areas off the refuge. The puddle duck hunting was better for us than usual and we had some banner days. The weather cooperated for the most part and helped us more than it hurt. The airboat hunting was great for teal and spoonbills. We had to move and adapt with the ice but overall figured the birds out most days. The only thing this year lacked was some great diver shoots. Like I mentioned before they just never seemed to show up in the areas I hunted.
Name: Travis Madden
Location: Lehi, UT
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Weather was really warm for most of the season. It did stay cold later in the year compared to last year.
Winter Snow Summary: Snow fall this year has surpassed what we had last year.
Season Water Conditions: Lower than previous years due to the mild winter and low run off.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Feeding conditions were good they were more abundant last year as the weather permitted it.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were pretty decent compared to last year. We did see more pushes this year due to the weather.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers seemed to be a little higher this year to me than last year.
Notable Duck Migrations: We did see a couple migrations due to the weather that we didn’t see last year. Cold snaps right before Thanksgiving and again in the middle of December.
Notable Goose Migrations: Geese were pretty consistent with last year.
Overall Hunting Report: Hunting this year was tough early in the season as the weather was unseasonably warm. As the cooler temps moved in the hunting got better but you still had to put your time in to find the birds. Overall wasn’t a great year of hunting but it was successful.
Name: Gene Carter
Location: Yuba City, California
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Finally received some winter weather in drought stricken California.
Winter Snow Summary: Valley received no snow.
Season Water Conditions: Above normal for the first time in 5 years.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Below average due to 42% less rice crop being planted due to low to no water for crops.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Seemed above normal, except mallards, local hatch was dismal. Northern mallards showed up early and a bigger push in December.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Snows and specks everywhere, have not heard the winter count yet but the numbers of geese that are in this valley will amaze you.
Notable Duck Migrations: Lots of wigeon and pintails. Teal seemed down in numbers to me but could have been results of lack of water in our area.
Notable Goose Migrations: Amazing
Overall Hunting Report: Above average for me, mostly mallards and wigeon with pintail taking third place due to bag limits of only 2 per day. The days I was able to goose hunt seemed above average.
Name: Vince Cowan
Location: Escalon, CA
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Finally some good steady rains with some incredible south wind days. I am sure everyone is aware of the ongoing drought problem California has been dealing with the last couple years and this year it finally rained and we got some really good storm systems pushing throughout the San Joaquin and Sac valleys which brought good migration numbers throughout the season.
Winter Snow Summary: Good snow levels and snow pack has increased tremendously from previous years.
Season Water Conditions: Water conditions way up from previous years great south storms brought lots of rain and snow.
Overall Feeding Conditions: We got some good cold fronts as well which pushed a lot of birds out of the Klamath Basin into the local corn and rice fields in the San Joaquin and Sac valley.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers way up over the past few years. It was a banner year in California to say the least.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Huge number of specks and snows. Didn’t have as good of luck with them as years past which is weird because we target specks and shoot ducks. We are huge goose hunters and this year just seemed like they wouldn’t work as well as previous years. But we had some excellent hunts.
Notable Duck Migrations: Good push early and they continued to build.
Notable Goose Migrations: Excellent goose migrations of specks and snows.
Overall Hunting Report: Overall the hunting was excellent. One of the better duck seasons I have had. The geese were tough but we got some good shoots in. It was a great year and can’t wait tell the next one especially now that we are looking to be drought free.
Name: Travis Lyle
Location: Fernley, NV
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Much more snow and all together a wetter year. It looks like we might even have some duck clubs open next season. Mountain snowpack is above average right now. Let’s hope it keeps going.
Winter Snow Summary: We received a good snowpack, with weekly storms and more coming. Hoping it will last until April.
Season Water Conditions: Water stayed low all year. Only a few places were huntable and you had to do your scouting.
Overall Feeding Conditions: If it didn’t grow wild there was no man made food like corn due to the lack of water for the farmers. Lots of wigeon grass in some spots but not much else.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: We seem to have more gadwalls this season, just as many spoonies around as previous years. We had a lot more mallards than years past. I’m sure it was due to the drought. Most other puddle ducks and divers were lower numbers.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Most of the geese came and went. We only had a small window on the snows. You had to scout hard if you wanted to get any honkers, or own land.
Notable Duck Migrations: Never had big numbers. Most stopped for a day or two and pushed on.
Notable Goose Migrations: Geese were the same as the ducks. Had to hit it just right. Or, if you could hunt golf courses you could have killed a few.
Overall Hunting Report: Lots of guys didn’t even bother with buying stamps to hunt ducks and most guys hung it up early. There were more law breakers this year as well. Sad to see what some people will do for a duck/goose. With that said if you put time in scouting and knowing a little bit about ducks/geese behavior you could get a few. Hunter edict is dead, found out first hand this season. Week days were the best days to get out, and mid-mornings worked well too.