OLYMPIA – The annual youth-only bird hunting season has been set for this weekend, Sept. 21-22, for hunters under 16 years of age.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sets aside this weekend for young hunters to pursue ducks, coots, Canada geese and pheasants in both eastern and western Washington, and quail in eastern Washington. Canvasback ducks and snipe are off-limits to hunters during the youth season, and goose hunting is not open in Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties.
All participants in the youth-only must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting.
Hunters planning on going after birds in the Skagit Wildlife Area will find a few changes at the complex, said Area Manager John Garrett. A portion of the headquarters area has been planted in corn, rather than the usual cereal grains, to control a noxious week infestation. Garrett said the corn has grown so tall that young hunters would likely have a difficult time navigating in the area.
The corn will remain standing throughout the regular bird-hunting seasons as well, he added.
In order to provide young hunters with an optional site containing good pheasant habitat, about 150 birds will be released on the Samish Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area. The Samish Unit can be accessed by driving north on the Bayview-Edison Road from State Route 20, then turning west on the Samish Island Road.
Pheasant releases are also set for the headquarters area and at the Leque Island release site west of Stanwood. About 150 pheasants will be released at each site prior to the youth season.
For duck hunters, Garrett said there are already good numbers of dabblers on Skagit Bay, and the best opportunities for young hunters will be hunting from a boat on the bay.
The headquarters area boat ramp is not usable during low tides. Garrett said duck hunters should use the boat ramp at Skagit County Park, on the northeast side of the Conway Bridge on the south fork of the Skagit River.
Steel shot must be used on all Skagit Wildlife Area pheasant release sites and for waterfowl hunting. Additional rules and seasons information can be found in WDFW's 2002-03 "Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons" pamphlet, available a sporting goods stores throughout the state, or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ on the Internet.