WDFW Waterfowl Advisory Group discussion

matchu865

WFF Supporter
It's a tough proposition to drive 3hrs to a fence post in order to get a phone number or an email address, then maybe get a yes or no about accessing a property. Then another 3hrs to scout the property to determine if it's worth hunting or not. I can do this already with any property in the state, whether enrolled in the program or not. I'm not really sure why WDFW is paying for this "Service"

I agree with what you're saying about Hunt by Reservation and Register to hunt - it really sucked what happened in Whatcom last season - that property could produce multiple limits per blind per day when the weather was good. Eventually I think all these properties will either be leased privately or turned into condos. I'm actually not opposed for paying for a lease and avoiding all this crap, but I would need to do some ground work to secure a property as I don't have connections in the area. I also support the public hunting access initiatives so doing that would make me kind of a hypocrite.
 

Guy Gregory

Active Member
I appreciate your participation on the WAG and admire your posting on this board for discussion of various issues to perhaps broaden your, and by extension the WAG's, perspective. I'm about done hunting for my days, my son and daughter are busy with careers, live elsewhere and don't hunt anymore, and I wonder if my grandson will be interested in days afield, or who might be around to take him.

I'm an Eastern guy. When it comes to ducks, public access on the Columbia Basin National Wildlife Refuge is pretty much the game. Most of those access points look like their occupied by wolverines, beer cans and clothes and crap all over. Doesn't make folks feel very safe.

But, outside the CNWR, in dry years like this, most of the small (walk-in) water at Swanson Lakes or elsewhere on public and private land is gone.

But even in wet years, the best small water outside the Columbia Basin Project area is on private ground and is leased. I'd say all, but someone will point out a pond or two, so perhaps let's just say the vast majority. And most of that is leased because it is adjacent to decent upland habitat as well.

I have field hunted for geese. For this, it's much the same story, except that a lot of the DNR owned/private leased circles in the Columbia Basin project are also closed, as the lessees lease the ground to clubs or guides. Otherwise it's a private land access game, generally landowner permission. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it takes time, energy, and money to cultivate the relationships necessary to get that permission and get your dekes in the field.

So it seems that in both Eastern and Western Washington, access to hunting opportunity is the limiting factor. Right now for the most part access to quality ground must be purchased. In that way it seems DFW has pulled waterfowl hunting into a track parallel to and sometimes wrapped up with the upland system, where they (at legislative behest, it must be said) created an "industry" of shooting preserves.

Without access to quality opportunity, folks quit. Of course I've an anecdote: last year hunting upland and jump shooting ducks on public lands with a new dog (probably 20 trips) I saw less than 10 other groups all season.

When it's a rich man's game, 90% won't play. 5% will poach anyway, and 3% will just go out, trespass, and trash property. In my view, If DFW would consider emphasizing the public hunter, the average guy, along with wild upland birds and reservation access to public ground for waterfowl, you might be able to turn it around. If this pay-to-play system lasts much longer, another generation of hunters will be lost. And that will be that.

Again, thanks for being out front on this. Best wishes.
 

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
It's a tough proposition to drive 3hrs to a fence post in order to get a phone number or an email address, then maybe get a yes or no about accessing a property. Then another 3hrs to scout the property to determine if it's worth hunting or not. I can do this already with any property in the state, whether enrolled in the program or not. I'm not really sure why WDFW is paying for this "Service"

I agree with what you're saying about Hunt by Reservation and Register to hunt - it really sucked what happened in Whatcom last season - that property could produce multiple limits per blind per day when the weather was good. Eventually I think all these properties will either be leased privately or turned into condos. I'm actually not opposed for paying for a lease and avoiding all this crap, but I would need to do some ground work to secure a property as I don't have connections in the area. I also support the public hunting access initiatives so doing that would make me kind of a hypocrite.
getting permission to hunt land like this falls under the 90% effort called scouting. If a person doesn't want to make the effort to hunt there don't denigrate the efforts of those that do.
 

D3Smartie

Active Member
I appreciate your participation on the WAG and admire your posting on this board for discussion of various issues to perhaps broaden your, and by extension the WAG's, perspective. I'm about done hunting for my days, my son and daughter are busy with careers, live elsewhere and don't hunt anymore, and I wonder if my grandson will be interested in days afield, or who might be around to take him.

I'm an Eastern guy. When it comes to ducks, public access on the Columbia Basin National Wildlife Refuge is pretty much the game. Most of those access points look like their occupied by wolverines, beer cans and clothes and crap all over. Doesn't make folks feel very safe.

But, outside the CNWR, in dry years like this, most of the small (walk-in) water at Swanson Lakes or elsewhere on public and private land is gone.

But even in wet years, the best small water outside the Columbia Basin Project area is on private ground and is leased. I'd say all, but someone will point out a pond or two, so perhaps let's just say the vast majority. And most of that is leased because it is adjacent to decent upland habitat as well.

I have field hunted for geese. For this, it's much the same story, except that a lot of the DNR owned/private leased circles in the Columbia Basin project are also closed, as the lessees lease the ground to clubs or guides. Otherwise it's a private land access game, generally landowner permission. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it takes time, energy, and money to cultivate the relationships necessary to get that permission and get your dekes in the field.

So it seems that in both Eastern and Western Washington, access to hunting opportunity is the limiting factor. Right now for the most part access to quality ground must be purchased. In that way it seems DFW has pulled waterfowl hunting into a track parallel to and sometimes wrapped up with the upland system, where they (at legislative behest, it must be said) created an "industry" of shooting preserves.

Without access to quality opportunity, folks quit. Of course I've an anecdote: last year hunting upland and jump shooting ducks on public lands with a new dog (probably 20 trips) I saw less than 10 other groups all season.

When it's a rich man's game, 90% won't play. 5% will poach anyway, and 3% will just go out, trespass, and trash property. In my view, If DFW would consider emphasizing the public hunter, the average guy, along with wild upland birds and reservation access to public ground for waterfowl, you might be able to turn it around. If this pay-to-play system lasts much longer, another generation of hunters will be lost. And that will be that.

Again, thanks for being out front on this. Best wishes.
Thanks for the feedback Guy.

I would argue that WA has more quality opportunity than most states. I lived in NC for awhile if you want to talk about garbage public opportunity.
I do agree that folks want quality and unfortunately most want quality without effort. We see it all the time regarding fish too. People want immediate satisfaction and usually that comes from the kill. Same reason most folks dont chukar hunt. too much work! And i dont know how we change that mindset.
I understand your anecdote and have seen it myself. We shot 22 limits of mallards out of the same place one year and never heard another shot. Its hiding in plain sight! And yet people dont scout, dont learn and dont put in the effort to lead to that success.
With all the tools available right now it has never been easier to find lands, contact land owners, see harvest stats, or understand weather patterns to know where birds will be. So i am not sure how you make it easier for people.

How would you suggest emphasizing the public hunter?
 

D3Smartie

Active Member
As we talk about management so often we are above the line... how can we create more birds as opposed to only talk about killing more birds
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Guy Gregory

Active Member
would argue that WA has more quality opportunity than most states. I lived in NC for awhile if you want to talk about garbage public opportunity.
But less among western states, which is why many WA hunters go to the Dakotas, Wyoming, MT or elsewhere.

Id emphasize the public hunter by promoting accountability and wild birds. Accountability by implementing a digital reservation system across the board, including leased public land. That would go in hand with a modern licensing system. Promote wild birds by abandoning the put-and-take raise and release program, promoting food-plot eastablishment in CRP ground seeded withe chicks raised by the landholder. North Dakota does that, and people go there to hunt birds. Nobody comes to Washington to hunt birds unless its family ground. Waterfowl specifically could tag onto this by food plot promotion and cover enhancement near nesting and resting habitat. Yes, all that requires funding. But public funding for public benefit is better in my mind than what we have now. Yes, waterfowl issues seem subordinate to others, but habitat is central and beneficial to all game and non-game species and public land wildlife “users”, including non-consumptive users.

My 2 cents, completely including all my bias. I hope there’s a thought in there you might find useful.
 

matchu865

WFF Supporter
getting permission to hunt land like this falls under the 90% effort called scouting. If a person doesn't want to make the effort to hunt there don't denigrate the efforts of those that do.

I don't think you understand my point. All I'm saying is that WDFW shouldn't be paying anything to landowners for "Hunt by Written Permission properties", since for posted land that's the de-facto rule. I know the game, and am not denigrating those (like myself) that put significant effort in scouting.
 

D3Smartie

Active Member
But less among western states, which is why many WA hunters go to the Dakotas, Wyoming, MT or elsewhere.

Id emphasize the public hunter by promoting accountability and wild birds. Accountability by implementing a digital reservation system across the board, including leased public land. That would go in hand with a modern licensing system. Promote wild birds by abandoning the put-and-take raise and release program, promoting food-plot eastablishment in CRP ground seeded withe chicks raised by the landholder. North Dakota does that, and people go there to hunt birds. Nobody comes to Washington to hunt birds unless its family ground. Waterfowl specifically could tag onto this by food plot promotion and cover enhancement near nesting and resting habitat. Yes, all that requires funding. But public funding for public benefit is better in my mind than what we have now. Yes, waterfowl issues seem subordinate to others, but habitat is central and beneficial to all game and non-game species and public land wildlife “users”, including non-consumptive users.

My 2 cents, completely including all my bias. I hope there’s a thought in there you might find useful.
For waterfowl i think you are going to have a hard time making the case that WA has less opportunity. We can look at it specifically on the seaduck side with authorization cards and show that actually a good number of people come to wa to hunt birds. its actually a problem for us.
I can see your argument for big game and in some cases upland birds, specifically pheasants which it looks like you are making your case around.
We have a digital reservation system today. It works for folks that want to show up and know they will have their piece of ground to hunt. I do not like that lack of opportunity it creates when someone doesnt show up or the land is not being hunted in the afternoon.
I am a huge proponent of an updated and integrated lic system but that is a much bigger item than just the waterfowl side of this conversation. That being said, the conversation is in the works and i believe WDFW is working with the same vendor of the OR lic system.
 

Guy Gregory

Active Member
Well, you sort of have a digital reservation system. It does not include Written permission lands, it does not include other DNR or Wildlife lands. And you're right, folks today abuse it by snapping up the "best" available and then maybe not going.

Imagine it comprehensive, for all state and enrolled private ground. Imagine it monitored, so if you abuse the system by snapping up tons of ground and not showing, you're gone. Private landholders will have WILD ID's and contact info for everyone that used their ground without having a holiday dinner interrupted by camo-clad latecomers. And if you're hunting ground without a reservation or registration, you're trespassing...flat out, in accordance with current WA law. It becomes much more accountable than the current system. It is part of a patchwork of programs, which as some commenters have noted, become quite bewildering.

This system might be tough in timberlands, but it works elsewhere. Frankly that's a big problem DFW has, so many land types in this remarkably diverse state.

And I'll defer to your knowledge of seaduck and west side waterfowling, I've no experience there at all. But over here, it's really about habitat. Small water for ducks and geese are completely intertwined with upland habitat..and non-game stuff, too. Ag monocultures provide no cover or water for resident or migratory birds. Building habitat between the irrigaiton circles and on the scabrock between the fields benefits all species.
 

Guy Gregory

Active Member
Ive only experience in ND, ID, OR, and MT. ND’s system seems pretty fool resistant, and poaching is earnestly enforced. Licensing is easy.

I’m just an old guy with opinions, but our system of access has become such a dogs breakfast of rules, and it seems the legislature’s promoting leasing over accountable public access…sorry if Im wasting your time. Further siloing species and land management isn’t productive in my mind
 

JS

Active Member
getting permission to hunt land like this falls under the 90% effort called scouting. If a person doesn't want to make the effort to hunt there don't denigrate the efforts of those that do.

I agree with you to a certain extent. I’ve been doing what you just described for more than 30 years. It has gotten a lot harder to convince folks operating under the “written permission” banner to allow you on their property. Even when you are a “local” it’s tough.

We called more than 10 outfits last year trying to get in on a group of mule deer we had located and we’re trying to get on during early archery, and got no’s from every single one (not to mention my brother, a veteran, asked most of the time). Most of the time, you can’t even track down the right land owner contact, even with OnX.
 

JS

Active Member
I literally had one land owner tell me, “yeah, we don’t do that anymore.” Even though the “written permission” WDFW signs were on their fence every 50 yards. We called the WDFW number and we’re basically told tough shit.
 

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
I agree with you to a certain extent. I’ve been doing what you just described for more than 30 years. It has gotten a lot harder to convince folks operating under the “written permission” banner to allow you on their property. Even when you are a “local” it’s tough.

We called more than 10 outfits last year trying to get in on a group of mule deer we had located and we’re trying to get on during early archery, and got no’s from every single one (not to mention my brother, a veteran, asked most of the time). Most of the time, you can’t even track down the right land owner contact, even with OnX.
I've found that shaved, showered and clean clothes pay excellent dividends when asking for permission. And a month or two ahead of the season is also better to ask than the day before you want to get on the property. Usually that herd (of owners) has been pestered too much in the preceding days.
 
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matchu865

WFF Supporter
I've found that shaved, showered and clean clothes pay excellent dividends when asking for permission. And a month or two ahead of the season is also better to ask than the day before you want to get on the property. Usually that herd (of owners) has been pestered too much in the preceding days.

It also probably helps if you're white, speak english as a first language, work in a 'traditional' field, and bring along a cute child. Allowing landowner discretion to approve/reject and applicant with no objective criteria is exactly why we shouldn't be paying for it.
 

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