Water shortages will limit waterfowl hunting at Shasta Valley Wildlife Area, other northeastern properties

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RYAN SABALOW / DUCKS.org photo
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SACRAMENTO— The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will reopen the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area in Siskiyou County to limited waterfowl hunting this season after a complete closure the past two seasons.

Although many parts of California received record rainfall and snowpack during the winter and spring of 2022-23, northeastern California remained comparatively dry. As a result, only dry field hunting will be allowed for waterfowl hunting this season at the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area.

The Northeastern Zone waterfowl season runs from Oct. 7, 2023, through Jan. 17, 2024. Hunting at the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area will be allowed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season. The preseason Northeastern Zone Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are scheduled for Sept. 23-24, 2023, and the postseason Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days are scheduled for Jan. 20-21, 2024.

The 4,700-acre Shasta Valley Wildlife Area provides important seasonal wetlands for migrating waterfowl with water supplied by three storage reservoirs on the property. Two of those reservoirs – Steamboat Lake and Bass Lake – are completely dry. Trout Lake is currently near 50 percent capacity and will serve as the closed zone for the 2023-24 waterfowl season where no hunting will be permitted.

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The Shasta Valley Wildlife Area will be open for upland game bird hunting for dove, quail, snipe and pheasant as regulations permit. Pheasant hunting is allowed only on Sundays during the season and will be by reservation only with no walk-ins, sweat line or refills. A Type A or B season pass is required for all adult hunters (not juniors). Reservation applications for Sunday pheasant hunts are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website.

Waterfowl hunting opportunities will vary at other Northeastern Zone state and federal lands popular with duck and goose hunters. Hunters are strongly advised to call ahead in preparing for any Northeastern Zone waterfowl hunt. Other popular public waterfowl hunting areas in the Northeastern Zone include:

Ash Creek Wildlife Area
A bright spot among Northeastern Zone public hunting areas, Ash Creek wetlands are expected to be mostly flooded for waterfowl season due to its combination of spring-fed creeks and groundwater supplies. Reservations are required to hunt the opening weekend, Oct. 7-8, along with a Type A or B season pass for all adult hunters (not juniors). Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. Ash Creek also will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis. No reservations or other check-in procedures required(530) 294-5824.

Butte Valley Wildlife Area
Butte Valley began pumping groundwater in July to flood its seasonal wetlands in time for the Northeastern Zone waterfowl opener. Butte Valley expects to have 500 to 600 acres flooded by opening day. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend along with a Type A or B season pass for all adult hunters (not juniors). Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. Butte Valley also will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis. (530) 398-4627.

Honey Lake Wildlife Area
Another option for youth hunters, the Honey Lake Wildlife Area Fleming Unit will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis though hunters will find fewer wetlands than in 2022-23. The Dakin Unit will be dry this upcoming season – though still open to dry field waterfowl hunting and upland game bird hunting. The Fleming Unit will see just about 20 percent of its seasonal wetlands flooded by the Oct. 7 season opener. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend. A Type A or Type B season pass is required of all adult hunters (not juniors). Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. (530) 254-6644.

Willow Creek Wildlife Area
This 2,700-acre wildlife area north of Susanville in Lassen County expects 250 acres of huntable, flooded wetlands by the Northeastern Zone season opener Oct. 7. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend. A Type A or Type B season pass is required of all adult hunters (not juniors). No preseason youth hunt will take place. Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. (530) 254-6644.

Modoc National Wildlife Refuge
The Modoc National Wildlife Refuge will have normal water levels and good habitat conditions this season. Drawings for the preseason youth hunt and opening weekend have been conducted for the free roam and Grandma Tract hunt areas. Self-serve hunting will begin Tuesday Oct. 10 and hunt days will be Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Hunt maps and site-specific regulations can be found on the refuge website, but for the most-up-to-date information, please refer to the Modoc NWR Facebook page.  (530) 233-3572.

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Once one of the nation’s premier waterfowl hunting destinations, the complex – consisting of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge – continues to suffer from water shortages. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier this month that waterfowl hunting will be allowed on dryland units at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge for the 2023-24 waterfowl season and that pheasant hunting will also be allowed at Tule Lake on dry field areas. The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge will be closed to all hunting for the entirety of waterfowl and upland game bird seasons.

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