OLYMPIA -- With the state's waterfowl hunting moving into its traditionally most productive part of the year, state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say this might be the best season in more than 50 years.
"Waterfowl biologists are predicting the best fall flights of migrating ducks since 1955," Greg Schirato, deputy director of the wildlife program, said in a news release. "The opportunities haven't been this good in most hunters' lifetimes."
Schirato said the bounty is due to good rainfall in northern waterfowl breeding grounds last summer, as well as favorable conditions here for duck and goose production.
The expected abundance of birds makes this a good season for waterfowl hunters to introduce newcomers to the sport, he said.
Along with the early-season forecast, the department has launched a new waterfowl hunting feature on its website at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/water fowl.
The page offers information for new or returning waterfowl hunters, ranging from the basics of duck and goose identification to details on hunting locations, equipment, licensing requirements and handling harvested waterfowl.
The department also has been working to increase land access for waterfowl hunting, Schirato said.
"We've been working hard to provide places to hunt on state-managed lands and working with land owners to open private lands to hunting," he said in the release.
Waterfowl hunting opportunities should increase as the season progresses, Schirato said, with influxes of migrant birds and added hunting days.
Goose management in much of eastern Washington restricts hunting to Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, but late fall and winter bring added opportunity on holidays including the Thanksgiving holiday (Thursday-Friday), the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16.