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Author Topic: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound  (Read 2333 times)

Offline bigmike86

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Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« on: November 23, 2017, 08:32:00 AM »
Greetings! First, happy thanksgiving! I hope you all have something to be thankful for this year.

Second, I have a question about legal hunting areas. Still relatively new to this state and figuring things out. A buddy and I are really interested in killing some sea ducks and hopefully tagging the elusive harlequin. I have been scouring the GoHunt Washington app on wdfw and the bay hunting areas seem pretty slim pickens! I am not implicating anyone in poaching, but I feel like I have seen others hunting outside wdfw wildlife boundaries in the Sound a lot, can you hunt anywhere out on the open sound if you are far enough from land? I have tried to do some research on this and come up empty. I am assuming the answer is no...?

I am just wondering how people get it done on public land with such small bay/open water offerings by the state. Unless the population of sea duck hunter is just so small that it doesn't matter.

Thanks for any guidance you can lend. Take care!
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Online bobcat

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2017, 08:45:53 PM »
I don't really have a definitive answer to this but since nobody else has commented yet, I'll just say as far as I know, you should be able to hunt pretty much anywhere on Puget Sound, as it's all owned by the state. I don't even know that there's any particular distance you must be from land, except in cases where there may be a county ordinance. But I don't have any experience hunting on saltwater so I just can't say for sure, so I'd probably recommend getting a hold of perhaps a WDFW law enforcement officer, and ask that question.

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2017, 08:51:55 PM »
@lokidog can probably help you with this.  :tup:
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Offline Odell

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2017, 09:20:00 PM »
You can float and hunt just about anywhere and you can anchor on lots of public land  as well as hunt from shore in miles of public land. There are also a lot of private tide beds that you cant access. Just gotta get the maps out or onX or something. Even then its tricky and people lie about what they own or dont. 


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Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2017, 09:26:53 PM »
@lokidog can probably help you with this.  :tup:

As far as I know any navigable waters are open for hunting as long as they are not in a no shooting/hunting zone.  Some places, like Skagit County, have rules that include not shooting from a boat unless it is anchored or on shore, not a problem unless you anchor on private tidelands. There are places in the South Sound that will say they are no hunting, but they are just BSing people.

Offline Stein

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2017, 04:50:39 PM »
It is tough, some of the bays are actually privately owned out in the water and others are "enforced" by people that aren't too happy when you hunt near their land legal or otherwise.

If I was going to chase sea ducks, I would probably show up at some boat launches in the obvious places near the bays and watch where people go and start from there.  Since the limit is 1 per year, you may get some helpful pm's.

If you are willing to put in time researching, burning some gas and asking around you can figure it out.

Offline huntingfool7

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2017, 05:22:32 PM »
Be aware that just because you're on the water, doesn't mean that you're outside of city limits. 

Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2017, 05:28:32 PM »
It is tough, some of the bays are actually privately owned out in the water and others are "enforced" by people that aren't too happy when you hunt near their land legal or otherwise.

If I was going to chase sea ducks, I would probably show up at some boat launches in the obvious places near the bays and watch where people go and start from there.  Since the limit is 1 per year, you may get some helpful pm's.

If you are willing to put in time researching, burning some gas and asking around you can figure it out.

Unless you anchor, they cannot do crap about you hunting as long as hunting/shooting is legally allowed. They cannot own below extreme low tide either, the state "owns" all of that.

Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2017, 05:48:17 PM »
Awesome, thanks guys! I was hoping this was the case. This gives me the motivation to do some more research and pinpoint specific areas in question to ask the game wardens about.

Since we're on the topic, does anyone know of any resources that talk about how to hunt harlequins? I have found little info on the interwebs about it. What I have found makes it seem pretty straightforward. Find em, set up some long lines, shoot em. But I am assuming it's more complicated than that? Unless it's not and finding them is the only hard part...? But I am wondering if I can find any info on migration patterns, what type of shoreline and terrain features to look for etc.

Thanks. I know I am asking some pretty serious questions as I am sure harly hunting is pretty well protected. But I assure you I will only live in this state for one more season and your harvest will not be threatened ;)
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Offline constructeur

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2017, 01:41:16 PM »
If you are in a time crunch you may just want to hire a guide.

http://peninsulasportsman.com/sea-duck-hunting/

Offline Odell

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2017, 03:32:21 PM »
Awesome, thanks guys! I was hoping this was the case. This gives me the motivation to do some more research and pinpoint specific areas in question to ask the game wardens about.

Since we're on the topic, does anyone know of any resources that talk about how to hunt harlequins? I have found little info on the interwebs about it. What I have found makes it seem pretty straightforward. Find em, set up some long lines, shoot em. But I am assuming it's more complicated than that? Unless it's not and finding them is the only hard part...? But I am wondering if I can find any info on migration patterns, what type of shoreline and terrain features to look for etc.

Thanks. I know I am asking some pretty serious questions as I am sure harly hunting is pretty well protected. But I assure you I will only live in this state for one more season and your harvest will not be threatened ;)

Find them. Set up 5-6 decoys. Wait a few minutes. Shoot one. The challenge to harli's is location. And making sure you pick a nice mature drake
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Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2017, 08:54:44 AM »
If you are in a time crunch you may just want to hire a guide.

http://peninsulasportsman.com/sea-duck-hunting/

I have thought about this, and I appreciate the advice. But as for me, the satisfaction in something like this truly comes from the fact that I did it myself (with the help of you all, obviously :). I have done guided fishing trips before and I thought it was the biggest waste of money (again, for me). I would rather catch one fish by myself than a hundred with a guide.

As far as location, that's what I'm struggling with. I plan on taking my binoculars and doing a huge loop of the Skagit and upper sound areas around Whidbey, port Townshend, and down hood canal. Are these the right places to be looking?

I'm stationed at Fort Lewis but it seems that there are rarely harlequins down in the lower sound/Nisqually area. Again, hard to tell since most people are keeping their cards close to their chest.

Again, I thank you all very much for any info you can lend. I know how hard everyone works for their spots. I don't want to take your spot from you, I just want to make sure I am not driving and boating around for hours in the wrong region of Washington!
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Offline aaronoto

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2017, 01:03:00 PM »
As far as location, that's what I'm struggling with. I plan on taking my binoculars and doing a huge loop of the Skagit and upper sound areas around Whidbey, port Townshend, and down hood canal. Are these the right places to be looking?

You're headed in the right direction, look for rocky shorelines, they like rocks. 

Offline ASHQUACK

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2017, 02:15:04 PM »
I do a fair bit of sea duck hunting, while some of the above information is correct some is not. On the private property questions I have had numerous run ins with land owners and law enforcement while hunting sea ducks. I have had the opportunity to tell millionaires to kiss my hind end and the fun of explaining to the local law enforcement why I can hunt certain areas. The biggest thing you're going to run into is people who think they own the water. The WILL call law enforcement on you, they do it to me every year. If you have a certain area in mind ask, I can probably help you with the landownership and or private propert clam beds in the area.

As far as giving up general areas that hold birds, you are on your own. Pretty sacred bird and not easy to find in huntable numbers in the south sound. There are a few just scarce.

Offline Stein

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2017, 02:41:19 PM »
It is tough, some of the bays are actually privately owned out in the water and others are "enforced" by people that aren't too happy when you hunt near their land legal or otherwise.

If I was going to chase sea ducks, I would probably show up at some boat launches in the obvious places near the bays and watch where people go and start from there.  Since the limit is 1 per year, you may get some helpful pm's.

If you are willing to put in time researching, burning some gas and asking around you can figure it out.

Unless you anchor, they cannot do crap about you hunting as long as hunting/shooting is legally allowed. They cannot own below extreme low tide either, the state "owns" all of that.

Check out some of the popular hunting bays at extreme low tide.  There is a bunch of private land way, way out there including some entire bays.

Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2017, 04:22:12 PM »
Thanks guys! I super appreciate it.

More realistic than getting a harlequin, I also super wanna shoot a barrows goldeneye. I see them while eating brunch in Tacoma sometimes...so frustrating. I was talking to some guys that hunt Nisqually and it sounded like they rarely swing through there. Do I have to venture way up north Puget sound to find them in huntable areas or should they be readily available in other south Puget sound units? Thanks again, no expectations of information here, anything you give is a gift that I appreciate!

Sincerely,
Big Mike
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Offline Stein

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2017, 04:29:43 PM »
I'll give the same but opposite info as aaronto above.  I hunt mainly mud/sand shorelines and very rarely see them.  One thing you may want to do is call one of the biologists that specializes in birds and see what kind of habitat and location to focus on.  Usually, they are pretty helpful.  They also see the harvest cards and should have a good idea what general areas get the highest harvests.

If you have a canoe or boat, it's a long season and you could see quite a bit of scenery.  The farther you get away from the Stilly/Skagit drainages, the less problem you will have with running into conflicts with landowners.

Offline tinsleystyle

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2017, 05:42:16 PM »
We see good numbers of Harlequin in the straights during migration months and the golden eye will show up down at Nisqually and other parts of the south sound later in the winter. I have no idea about hunting laws in the straights around cape flattery, Neah bay and Sekiu, but we certainly see Harlequin around the rocks up there in the winter. If you feel like doing a road trip, watch the weather, find where you can or cant shoot and go find a trophy!

Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2017, 08:48:54 PM »
The only place I see Harlequins is in areas with rocks, rocky beaches and rocky little reef islands. From what I have seen, they are much better plumed late December into January.

I've lost two the last two years, if it doesn't go feet up when it hits the water, shoot it again as quickly as possible as they can swim a long ways underwater.

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Offline Stein

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2017, 12:07:05 PM »
Now you have me thinking about it, maybe a crab/duck combo trip.

Offline washingtonmuley

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2017, 01:18:06 PM »
Be careful if you don't know the shorelines that you are hunting as they can eat props and lower units.

Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2017, 08:56:22 PM »
Be careful if you don't know the shorelines that you are hunting as they can eat props and lower units.

I'll attest to that... ground a prop down once trying to idle in to get photos of a few of them by my island, oops, and I didn't get the photo shot either.  >:(

Offline Whitenuckles

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2017, 02:13:32 PM »
PM me when the time come. Might be a 2 hour drive for you. But I'll put you on some.
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Offline Whitenuckles

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2017, 02:15:02 PM »
Going to have this year's Harli  put on the rock to the lower left. Should be cool one finished
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Offline Curly

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2017, 02:52:17 PM »
That is a really cool mount.  Love the icicles.  :tup:
May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

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Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2017, 04:41:02 PM »
Fantastic! Pm sent.

Question about anchoring. Can you anchor your decoys on the private land even if your boat isnt anchored? If so, how the heck do you hunt without boat and decoys anchored?
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Offline Whitenuckles

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2017, 05:13:16 PM »
Fantastic! Pm sent.

Question about anchoring. Can you anchor your decoys on the private land even if your boat isnt anchored? If so, how the heck do you hunt without boat and decoys anchored?
Drift... with long lines attached to the boat
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Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2017, 06:09:47 PM »
Fantastic! Pm sent.

Question about anchoring. Can you anchor your decoys on the private land even if your boat isnt anchored? If so, how the heck do you hunt without boat and decoys anchored?

As Whitenuckles said.  An electric motor would work great to maintain a position.

Skagit County has the you have to be anchored to shoot rule, doesn't it?
« Last Edit: November 28, 2017, 06:20:45 PM by lokidog »

Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2017, 09:45:13 PM »
Mind blown! Yes I just read that you MUST be anchored there. Which means you are touching the land below the water. So the point of that law is to not allow you to hunt by floating over the private land I guess. Kind of rude if you ask me, Im not trying to steal their land, I just want to shoot some ducks which weren't theirs to being with!
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Offline Stein

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2017, 08:46:17 AM »
Fantastic! Pm sent.

Question about anchoring. Can you anchor your decoys on the private land even if your boat isnt anchored? If so, how the heck do you hunt without boat and decoys anchored?

As Whitenuckles said.  An electric motor would work great to maintain a position.

That would work, but then you can't shoot legally.

If you are in Skagit, I wouldn't try shooting over private land as was mentioned, you will get either harassed or visited by WDFW, or both and it is technically impossible since you can't anchor but need to be anchored.

The good news is that I would bet spots that hold sea ducks may be different than those that hold puddle ducks and are tough to hunt.  Probably some overlap, but I bet a bit of work could get you into some in an area that isn't a nightmare to hunt - just my guess.

Offline Duckhunter14

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2017, 11:56:34 AM »
I agree with finding a rocky shore. In my experience they stay on a rocky shore in a protected bay at night then fly out into more open water (still relatively close to shore) to feed during the day. Find a good spot between the two areas and they are very easily decoyed. Make sure everyone in the boat brings binoculars and only one person shoots. Often times it can be difficult to tell a hen harlequin from other sea duck hens, so be extra cautious. They often times group up as they buzz the decoys and killing two could happen, we try to shoot single drakes or wait for a really clear shot.

As mentioned above; killing one is not difficult. Finding the spot is. And its no surprise why, they can be tough to come by. After we killed our three in the boat earlier this year a banded drake backpedaled and landed 20 yards from the boat. That was tough!  :bash: But the rule on my boat is if you're not going to mount it you don't shoot one. No reason to just shoot one for fun  :twocents:. They are beautiful little birds and I love getting out once a year to target them. Even if I don't shoot.

Good luck in your adventure for the wood duck of the sea. People from all over the country come to the PNW and Alaska for a chance at one. Hope to see a success pic when you punch your one for the year.

*Also to reinforce what Loki mentioned...water swat them again if they aren't belly up. If they dive they're gone. And shooting from a propelled motor is illegal. Therefore making follow up shots on wounded birds very difficult.

Clint
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My two favorite words? Take em!

Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2017, 12:44:49 PM »
Mind blown! Yes I just read that you MUST be anchored there. Which means you are touching the land below the water. So the point of that law is to not allow you to hunt by floating over the private land I guess. Kind of rude if you ask me, Im not trying to steal their land, I just want to shoot some ducks which weren't theirs to being with!
Actually,  I think the point is to keep guys from blowing through the rafts of birds more than anything.

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Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2017, 12:47:29 PM »
My original responses were thinking of South sound.

Good thing it doesn't apply out here since I drift shoot most of my birds....

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Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2017, 02:09:18 PM »
On drifting: How many lines do you have out and how do you keep them separated? Do you anchor to dofferent parts of the boat or have one anchor point and some type of spreaders?
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Offline Special T

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2017, 02:39:51 PM »
Mind blown! Yes I just read that you MUST be anchored there. Which means you are touching the land below the water. So the point of that law is to not allow you to hunt by floating over the private land I guess. Kind of rude if you ask me, Im not trying to steal their land, I just want to shoot some ducks which weren't theirs to being with!
Actually,  I think the point is to keep guys from blowing through the rafts of birds more than anything.

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It was actually to keep people from skulling into flocks of snows, and drifting into the flocks. A very effective method used in other parts of the country.

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Offline Special T

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2017, 02:41:33 PM »
On drifting: How many lines do you have out and how do you keep them separated? Do you anchor to dofferent parts of the boat or have one anchor point and some type of spreaders?
You don't need it for harliqui. 90% of the tide land owners that get mad are oyster/clam farmers or gun clubs. Too shallow and wrong terrain for harliquin.

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The Truth is like Poetry, and most people hate Poetry

Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2017, 08:30:59 PM »
Team,

Thanks so much for all your help. I shot 4 new species today that I have never shot before! What a day!

First I missed some scoters, so that was a bummer, but then I shot a random bluebill hen, and one each goldeneye drake! (Only had to chase one of them half way across the sound...tough birds...). Then I missed a redhead!!!! Dag nabbit! But I shot a redbreasted merganser to finish off the day. I have always wanted to shoot a goldeneye and I am so happy that I had so many birds decoy that I could pick out 2 drakes. What a treat that it was one of each type! Thanks again for all your help, specifically the people that PM'd me and gave me your super secret spots :)

-Big Mike
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

Offline lokidog

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2017, 08:42:02 PM »
 :tup:

Offline Whitenuckles

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #38 on: December 03, 2017, 01:09:21 PM »
 :tup:
GEAUX TIGERS

Offline washingtonmuley

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #39 on: December 04, 2017, 09:57:12 AM »
Team,

Thanks so much for all your help. I shot 4 new species today that I have never shot before! What a day!

First I missed some scoters, so that was a bummer, but then I shot a random bluebill hen, and one each goldeneye drake! (Only had to chase one of them half way across the sound...tough birds...). Then I missed a redhead!!!! Dag nabbit! But I shot a redbreasted merganser to finish off the day. I have always wanted to shoot a goldeneye and I am so happy that I had so many birds decoy that I could pick out 2 drakes. What a treat that it was one of each type! Thanks again for all your help, specifically the people that PM'd me and gave me your super secret spots :)

-Big Mike
Redhead in the sound?

Offline bigmike86

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Re: Legal hunting land question - Puget Sound
« Reply #40 on: December 04, 2017, 01:32:43 PM »
I'm not a waterfowl ID expert but it had a redhead with a blue bill. It swam into decoys so i got a pretty good look at it. Dont ask why I missed...super bummed...
"I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." -Ernie Pyle

 

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