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Waterfowl hunting season begins Saturday
Breeding ground surveys in Canada and Alaska show near record numbers for many species of waterfowl, which hunters will take aim at when the season opens Saturday.
"There should be quite a few birds around but the weather really makes or breaks you," Colusa-Sutter Wildlife Refuge Manager Scott Peters said.
Hunters in the Sacramento, Delevan and Colusa wildlife refuges will look for days when there is a brisk north wind and cold, foggy days in hope that a strong headwind will keep the birds slow and low to the ground, according to Peters.
"Colusa, Sutter, Delevan and Sacramento shoot really well on north wind days because the closed area is north of the hunting areas. They fly into the wind and it funnels them low across the hunting area," he said.
Hunters on private land tend to do fine without the north wind, he said.
Peters expects opening day to be a good one early in the morning, but the number of ducks taken down will likely dip as temperatures rise into the 80s later on.
The Colusa, Delevan and Sacramento refuges will be open today but Sutter likely won't be open until next weekend.
"This year Colusa's looking pretty good, we probably have 85 percent of the area flooded. Sutter, we're not opening on Saturday because we don't have enough habitat flooded," Peters said.
He expects about 75 hunters today in the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Hunting begins 30 minutes before sunrise and ends at sunset across the state. The season ends on Jan. 27, the last Sunday in January.
"Opening day is usually one of the most in-demand days to get, so the most people put in for the lottery then. It drops off pretty fast after that until the pheasant opener, and then there's a blip up," he said.
Hunters may shoot ducks, geese, coots or snipe but should be aware the swans are in the area and are illegal to shoot, Peters said.
For most hunters, the many species of ducks and geese are the primary targets, Brent Nobles of Fur, Fin and Feather Taxidermy in Colusa said.
"Where we're at in this flyway we're pretty fortunate, we have a huge variety of birds. We have everything from mallards, teal and wood ducks, we got pretty much anything you can ask for," Nobles said.
Teal and mallard ducks are the most popular because they provide the best tasting meat, but most hunters avoid coots and snipe because they don't taste very good, he said.
"Teal, they're they best, they're small and very tasty, but some people like mallard and sprig because they're bigger and also taste good," Nobles said.
As long as the birds have been feeding on rice and not grass and mud, they will taste fine, he said.
Nobles spent Friday cleaning his shop and bringing in the equipment he will need for Fur, Fin and Feather's busiest time of year. Not only is duck season starting, deer and bear season are in full swing.
"I'll be busy for the next 100 days. Except for Christmas and Thanksgiving I'll pretty much be here," he said.
Duck season in Colusa makes the town seem to quadruple in size he said, people come from all over California and the United States to hunt.
Even celebrities have been known to hunt in this area, musician Huey Lewis came into Kittle's Outdoor and Sport a few years ago and several baseball players hunt here, Nobles said.
"Colusa County, right here, is kind of the Mecca of duck hunting in California. A lot of people know of Colusa County because of duck hunting."
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.