5 tips to get started waterfowl hunting in Washington
Washington is host to some excellent waterfowl hunting, including fantastic opportunities for a wide variety of species around the state.
Here are five tips to help you get started:
1. Check the regulations
First and foremost, pick up or download a copy of the regulations pamphlet and get familiar with it. Waterfowl seasons, bag limits, and species-specific restrictions can change from year to year.
2. Learn waterfowl identification
With 35 species of waterfowl in Washington, identification can be challenging and intimidating. The good news is we have compiled some great tools and resources to help you hone your skills before heading afield. If possible, it’s always a benefit to accompany experienced hunters who can share their knowledge and expertise.
3. Discover opportunities
Washington has many waterways (Columbia River, Puget Sound, coastal bays, and estuaries) that provide ample opportunity to harvest waterfowl, but access is limited and often requires a boat. Learn more about WDFW water access areas to find your next great hunting spot.
Fortunately, public lands offer many walk-in opportunities for those without boats. Some lands also offer reservation or lottery systems to allow waterfowl hunters the opportunity to experience hunting in a different part of the state. In addition to these public lands, there are also private land opportunities that are available to the public. Check out our places to go hunting page for more information.
4. Plan a scouting trip
Successful hunters often say that success equates to 90 percent scouting and 10 percent hunting. The more you can learn about your hunting area and how your target species utilize it, the higher your odds of success. Things like prevailing wind direction, position and orientation of a pond in relation to bird movement and weather conditions, secluded or overlooked areas, walk-in access, blind materials/cover, etc. are important factors to figure out before first light on opening day.
Additionally, using technology tools such as onXmaps or Google Earth from the comforts of home can provide invaluable information about your hunting area while also providing a visual of your chosen hunting site and surrounding area.
5. Hone your shooting skills
Shooting proficiency is key in waterfowl hunting success, so be sure to take time to practice shooting your shotgun to improve your accuracy and decrease the potential of poor shots on game. This is important, particularly if you are hunting without a dog. Spending time shooting clays at a local gun club is a great way to hone your shooting skills.
As always, respect the resource, appreciate the harvest, and enjoy Washington’s wetlands and waterfowl.