Opening day of duck season 2018 here is SW Washington did not look promising. The weather forecast was sunny with light wind and highs up to 70 degrees. Around here, for duck hunting anyway, this is bad.
Plan A, Ridgefield
For the past couple of seasons, we had opening day picks at McNary National Wildlife Refuge, but this season we all got skunked. So our plan was to stop by Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and try our luck at a blind during the lottery after the pre-season draws had gone. But a communication mishap made one of our group late to the checkstation, which was just as well because the parking lot was the fullest I’ve yet to see.
So we left to try plan B, which was to go to Shillapoo Wildlife Area and Lake Vancouver.
Plan B, Lake Vancouver
During the evenings preceding the opener I’d scouted around the Shillapoo and the lake looking for new spot and perhaps an elusive honey hole free of other hunters. I’d found a lakeside spot in a cove that was holding some ducks and decided it would be as good as any on a blue-sky day.
We drove out there, walked in and were set up with about a minute before legal shooting time.
Things were looking up at first. When the shooting started throughout the area, ducks took to the skies. Within 5 minutes we got buzzed by a 3 pintails, one of which we dropped. After that we had a teal land just beyond the decoys and a few shovelers gave us some good looks, but no quality shots.
By the time the sun rose over the trees, any birds we saw were too high and too far away. Also spoiling the hunt were visits from hikers and their dogs as well as a regatta on the lake. I guess the rowers don’t account for duck season.
We had one bird to show for the morning and by 8:45 we decided to pack up and head out for a good breakfast.
I think this cove will hunt well during stormier conditions when it provides a little shelter from the wind. I plan to return to it a few times this season and see if it will pan out.
There’s also a lot of cacklers already in the area, so they may present better early season opportunities.
In the meantime, the beautiful weather gave us an opportunity to see a beautiful sunrise.