Season Summary: Updated February 6, 2017
Name: Kent Contreras
Location: Newport, Washington
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Two notable events occurred this season – the first was a record-breaking rainfall amount in the month of October, over 9 inches of rain fell in the area and shattered previous record. The second was an abnormally cold spell that hit the area for the end of December and first three weeks of January — this cold spell froze out all waterways and completely froze over the Pend Oreille River bringing hunting to a standstill as the fields were covered with about 2 feet of snow.
Winter Snow Summary: Not a record year but with the cold spell most of the snowfall stuck around longer than usual. Typical weather patterns for a winter here are that snow will fall and then melt off through the season … not this year.
Season Water Conditions: Creeks and ponds were abnormally high due to the amount of rainfall in October. The Pend Oreille River fluctuated so much this season that it was hard to predict where to set up. River levels would rise and fall up to 2 feet overnight due to Albeni Dam releasing or holding water. Also, early season saw Idaho releasing more water for Kokanee Spawning which flooded out lower river areas for a good three to four weeks in the early season.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Overall there was plenty for the birds until the snow came – then they changed their feeding patterns to use the river more than shore or fields.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Average numbers throughout the season. It did seem a little lower on puddle ducks this year.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Seemed about average through the season but with the tough hunting conditions it was hard to harvest the typical numbers.
Notable Duck Migrations: Biggest migration this season was when the cold spell hit and the birds moved out. December saw the diving ducks make their appearance and continued through January.
Notable Goose Migrations: The northern geese moved in around the end of November, but with the cold spell at the end of December most of them moved on to warmer climates.
Overall Hunting Report: Pretty much a slow season here. Seems like we battled the human factor more this season than years past due to water fluctuations from the dams in the area. Mother Nature made it just as hard by freezing us out for a good three weeks in January. Overall, it was a below average year for harvesting birds in this area.
Name: Zach LaBorde
Location: Chehalis, Washington
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This year we got rain a lot earlier than the past few years. We were hunting over sheet water in early October! Unfortunately, we had a prolonged freeze this year that started the week before Christmas and went all the way into mid-January. This pushed many birds to the coast for an extended period. Normally we only freeze up for about a week, not a month.
Winter Snow Summary: We ended up getting the most snow accumulation we have had in the last 3 or 4 years. At one point, we had up to 6 inches.
Season Water Conditions: Water came early this year and we pretty much kept it throughout the season.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Overall, there was more barley in the area this year, which helped hold geese around long. The geese never really found the triticale fields like they traditionally do.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were about average. We saw more mallards in our area than years past and about the same number of pintail. Wigeon numbers were down a bit, but we also saw a major increase in green-winged teal.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Numbers of little geese were drastically down this year and they did not stay around nearly as long before moving into Oregon. Big goose numbers have been greater than previous seasons this last month or so of the season.
Notable Duck Migrations: Ducks came early and seemed to stick around most of the year except for the freeze when they headed out to the coast. We had a great December of duck hunting, which is not typical. However, we have had a tough January, which is normally peak time.
Notable Goose Migrations: Geese arrived at about their normal times, but in lower numbers than years past. We also noticed they did not stick around as long. As early storms and greater hunting pressure than in years past pushed them down to Oregon after only a couple weeks.
Overall Hunting Report: This year was another solid year of hunting. I feel like our window of opportunity was less this year, but when it was good, it was great.
Name: Jared Shepard
Location: Wenatchee, Washington
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Being new to the area this summer I have nothing to compare to. From what I’ve heard, the temperatures were colder here than they have been in at least a few years.
Winter Snow Summary: Again, with nothing to compare to, I’ve been told we received an average to slightly above average snowfall.
Season Water Conditions: Water conditions were normal this year. Due to the colder weather, the irrigation canals, ponds and lakes froze sooner than normal; however, the Columbia River maintained its normality.
Overall Feeding Conditions: There was no change in feeding conditions from previous years.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Without a comparison I’m relying on the word of locals. Duck numbers were good in the valley but waned off earlier than normal due to the cold weather and snowfall.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers appeared to be strong and from what gossip I heard, they were above average for this area.
Notable Duck and Goose Migrations: No real notable duck or goose migrations occurred in the area. There were a couple weeks when it was obvious we received new birds, but it almost appeared as if there was a constant trickle down of birds staying in front of the cold northern weather in Canada.
Overall Hunting Report: The overall report for this season was a solid good. Hunters with access to boats faired really well and those who chose to hunt along the banks of the Columbia and local ponds did fairly well also. Occasional reports of duck limits and a few goose limits happened throughout the season. The majority of local hunters focus on the abundant big game opportunities with waterfowl being a secondary choice so I think this season was plus for all who partook.
Name: Allen Riggs
Location: Elk, Washington
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Much more snow and colder temps than the last few years. Heavy rains in October followed by freezing temperatures.
Winter Snow Summary: Heavy amounts of snow this winter compared to previous years. Snow began falling in noticeable amounts in December and didn’t let up.
Season Water Conditions: Due to freezing temperatures bodies of water froze up, including faster moving waters for a time.
Overall Feeding Conditions: The local fields were great sources of feed for the beginning of the season until heavy amounts of snow fell. Then, birds either moved on or loafed and fed in the unfrozen portions of the rivers.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were a little scarce for mallard and wigeon. The diver numbers were about average.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Canada goose numbers were good, a little higher than last year.
Notable Duck Migrations: Diver duck migrations were apparent in mid-December, puddle duck migrations were very slow.
Notable Goose Migrations: Canada goose migrations were good this year.
Overall Hunting Report: Hunting this year was a little better than last year.
Name: Chad Yamane
Location: Layton, Utah
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Our fall was unseasonably warm with temps in the 70s until the end of November. We thought we were in for another dry winter and BAM winter hit and hit us hard. We have had an incredible snow year and very frigid temps. Usually snow doesn’t last long on the Salt Lake Valley floor but this year it has stayed. The Great Salt Lake is seven times saltier than the ocean and there were parts of it frozen over solid.
Winter Snow Summary: We have had an incredible snow year with much of our mountains close to 200 percent of normal. We need it bad as the GSL is at a record low.
Season Water Conditions: The diked impoundments were full and had good feed for the most part. The Bear River Bird Refuge was the exception as its units were dry all summer.
Overall Feeding Conditions: The pond weed growth was great in a lot of areas. Managers of the WMAs do a great job at managing the carp and keeping enough water for the food to grow throughout the summer.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck production in Utah was great. We held a great deal of birds all season long. The warm weather helped to stage more than usual bird numbers here.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers are as high as I’ve ever seen them. We have a high local population and the migration seemed good this year also.
Notable Duck Migrations: The usual influx and exit of birds during storms. Nothing too crazy to report.
Notable Goose Migrations: I did notice that when the states to the north of us froze really hard and got a lot of snow we seemed to have a big push of geese come through. Over the past 10 years the mild winters have allowed those big birds to stay north. I believed they had to migrate this year.
Overall Hunting Report: My personal observation was the year started out slow. The swan hunting was fantastic even though we had mild November temps. The hunting got better once we got a little colder weather and just as fast as the hunting got hot it became insanely cold and froze up all but the fastest moving water. Even the GSL froze in spots making hunting near impossible. We are still in a deep freeze with a lot of snow on the ground. Usually by now we are smashing our resident geese in our last week of the season. It was one of my slower seasons in years. Here’s to hoping that all this cold and snow will make for an incredible next season.
Name: Travis Madden
Location: Lehi, Utah
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: The weather was noticeably warm this year.
Winter Snow Summary: Snow pack in the area is actually very good. Depending on where you are it is 125 to 175 percent above normal.
Season Water Conditions: Water conditions were low most of the season.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Feed conditions in the fields were good. Feed in some of the WMAs was not as good as in past years due to the ponds being dry most of the summer.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Duck numbers were a little lower then compared to previous years.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers were about average.
Notable Duck Migrations: Nothing really noticeable except for when we hit the cold snap and lost a bunch of them around the first part of December.
Notable Goose Migrations: Noticed a bunch moving out around the end of December to first of January due to very cold weather.
Overall Hunting Report: Overall hunting report was that it was a tough season for most. Scouting definitely helped put a few more birds in the bag for the hunters that put the time in.
Name: Tailor Sponcey
Location: Twin Falls, Idaho
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Snowfall and temperatures were record setting this year and haven’t been seen this severe since the 1980s. We received over 30 inches of snow so far and spent the better part of December and January below 32 degrees.
Winter Snow Summary: Thirty inches so far.
Season Water Conditions: Water conditions were average except for a few days when the snow melted quickly and water levels rose.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Around 25 percent of corn fields were standing through the winter which made less feed fields available.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Most species of duck numbers were average except the numbers of late season wigeon were drastically low.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Canada goose numbers were average but snow goose numbers seemed to be up a little.
Notable Duck Migrations: All duck migrations were right on que with a normal year.
Notable Goose Migrations: Canada goose migration was right on with a normal year.
Overall Hunting Report: Hunting was very good in December and January, possibly above average. November was very tough hunting due to mild temperatures. Over all I’d say it was an above average year one goose hunting and average on duck hunting.
Name: David Harper
Location: Boise, Idaho
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This was a once a decade kind of winter for us. The Treasure Valley spent most of its December and January fighting snow storms and cold weather, watching low temperatures dip below zero many days and more snow days than have been seen in many years.
Winter Snow Summary: Almost 3 feet over the course of the winter thus far.
Season Water Conditions: Coming into the season, water levels were pretty normal and stayed that way most all season. The most odd water related condition was having some of the major area rivers freezing up in January. Definitely made a difference in some hunter’s seasons for a few weeks, moving birds and making access to hunting grounds unsafe.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Plenty of agricultural options in the Treasure Valley still for birds to utilize, the amount of snow made it difficult for birds to access the feed at times was our biggest problem this year.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: A great push of mallards and wigeon mid-season as the weather was getting nasty. Higher numbers of these two species than have been around the valley for the last few years. Strong numbers of diving birds on the Snake River as well; about average, I would say.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Canada goose numbers stayed about the same around most of the valley.
Notable Duck Migrations: Duck migrations happened about the same times this year, a large push around Thanksgiving and then again in December as the weather started to turn worse. The couple of big storms we had made for the most notable migrations, both in December and January.
Notable Goose Migrations: Canada geese moved about the same as the ducks did.
Overall Hunting Report: Hunting for most waterfowlers was very good this year in late December and January. After a slow start to the season, things turned around for the better for everyone from the weekend warrior to the hardcore guys. I would venture to guess that most hunters this year would average out the season to an above average season for most.
Name: Brad Womble
Location: Wallace, California
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Very wet and windy.
Winter Snow Summary: Average to above average.
Season Water Conditions: Above average, with too much flood water affecting bird location and concentrations.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Perfect, with more feed than birds can use.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: California: Increased numbers of local birds; Oregon: Increased numbers of local birds.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: California: Increased numbers of local birds; Oregon: Increased numbers of local birds.
Notable Duck Migrations: California: Late migration, birds finally starting to arrive last two weeks; Oregon: Above average, birds holding heavy in northern part of state.
Notable Goose Migrations: California: Late migration, birds finally starting to arrive last three weeks of season; Oregon: Above average, birds holding heavy in northern part of state.
Overall Hunting Report: California: Poor; Oregon: Outstanding
Name: Travis Lyle
Location: Fernley, Nevada
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Much more snow and all together a wetter year. 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: Got a good snowpack, with weekly storms and more coming. Hoping it will last until April.
Season Water Conditions: Had better water this season. After January flood, we had too much. We don’t say that too often in the desert.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Lots of corn and better wild growth of bulrush, and widgeon grass. This helped to keep the ducks around for most of the season.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Way more wigeons and gadwall this year than last few. Didn’t see the mallards like last season but wigeons and gadwalls made up for that.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Normal year on the honkers, but the snows really never showed up in force. Kind of a slow year for geese.
Notable Duck Migrations: Ducks stayed a lot longer this season. Had great shoots 90 percent of the season.
Notable Goose Migrations: Goose hunting was about the same. Snows were a little slower this year.
Overall Hunting Report: Tons of hunters start off the season with high hopes only to be let down with the closure of some area’s and water distribution in other. Wrong people are in charge of some of these areas, but when politics raises its ugly head, not much can be done. But if you played you cards right you should have had a great season. For my crew and family, it was one for the record books. Last thoughts on this season: “Fellas, you don’t always have to pass shoot. Scout and hunt where the birds are and use hunter’s etiquette”.
Name: Travis Rowlett
Location: Fallon, Nevada
Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: After five years of drought we finally received a great snowpack in the mountains. With two months left for our winter this could be a record year. All waterfowl habitat for northern Nevada will be in ultimate shape for next year.
Winter Snow Summary: Some snow in the valleys in late December and January, but most of it stayed in the mountains.
Season Water Conditions: Extremely low in the early season as expected, but with heavy winter storms in early January, we had a lot more water than we thought we would have.
Overall Feeding Conditions: Poor! Without water, last spring and summer there wasn’t much food for waterfowl. Most of our marshes that did receive water in the late season were unable to hold birds for very long.
Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Extremely low but much better than last year.
Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Low, but as normal we had a good push at the end of the season.
Notable Duck Migrations: Not much but lots of cinnamon teal in late December.
Notable Goose Migrations: Nothing to write about.
Overall Hunting Report: For the most part poor, but some diehards stuck with it and had a decent season. Next year should be a 180 compared to the last few years.