Waterfowl and Upland game primer: Tip, tricks for a successful hunting season

Idaho Press

Bird hunting season is upon us. Forest grouse season is already open and in full swing. Chukar and quail seasons opened Sept. 21. The leaves are turning and the mornings are a little brisk. The last cold snap sent most of the doves south. Waterfowl and pheasant seasons are less than a month away.

I stopped by Cabela’s the other day to check out the newest goose decoys. My wife was with me and reminded me that I already had a lot of decoys. She asked why I would need any more.

I explained to her that geese are getting smarter and decoys are becoming more lifelike. You need to stay up with the latest and best decoys to fool geese.

She responded: “You mean geese fly over your decoys and say: ‘Those are Nye’s old decoys. We’ve been looking at those same decoys for years. Who is he trying to fool? Let’s go look for those fancy new decoys.’”

I’m not sure if that is the way geese think, but I know I’m itching to hunt geese, and opening week is one of the best times to hunt waterfowl.


Here in southwest Idaho, goose and duck season opens Oct. 12. Check the regulations for specific limits on ducks and geese. There are special regulations for snow and white-fronted geese (specks) as well. White-fronted goose season does not open until Nov. 11 in southwest Idaho. Scaup opens later too, so be sure to double-check the regulations.

We usually only have local birds the first month or so of the season. Once they are shot at a few times, they get pretty smart and tend to be a little decoy shy.

Cold stormy weather will bring new northern birds down and the season usually picks up again in late November.

It’s pretty tough to find a place to goose hunt here in Canyon County. Most private land is already spoken for.

In the meantime, the Snake River, Lake Lowell and Fort Boise WMA (wildlife management area) provide some public waterfowl opportunities.


Finding a place to hunt pheasants here in southwest Idaho is also getting pretty tough. You’ll need to drive around the countryside and knock on some doors in order to find a spot to hunt.

There are several public areas to hunt pheasant and quail. Fort Boise WMA over by Parma and a couple other WMAs up near Emmett and Payette offer public areas to hunt. Both are stocked with pen-raised pheasants once a week or so. Expect to encounter crowds.

You’ll need to pick up a WMA pheasant permit if hunting on a WMA. A fluorescent orange vest is required and there are specific hours you can and cannot hunt.

Chukar can be found in the Owyhees, as can Huns and occasionally quail.

If you are having no luck getting permission on private ground or finding a bird on WMAs, you can always check out a game farm and shoot a pen-raised pheasant.

It’s not quite the same as a wild bird, but your dog will get a good workout and you’ll end up with a bird or two for the pot. It’s a pretty good deal for young hunters who like to get a shot or two.

Pheasant season opens Oct. 19.


Forest grouse season is already in full swing and stays open in most parts of the state through the end of the year. Most good deer and elk hunting spots have grouse. The area around Sage Hen Reservoir usually has a fair population of grouse.


We have plenty of hunting opportunities coming up. Be sure to read the Fish and Game regulations carefully and be safe.

© 2013 Idaho Press-Tribune.

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