August is almost over, and although it is still hot in the middle of summer during the days, I hope that soon September will bring us cooler temperatures, and even rain.
It will definitely bring us more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
Three new hunting seasons open on Thursday.
The first bow deer hunting season opens Thursday and bow hunters will head into the hills in search of a mule deer in our area, a white-tailed deer further east or a black-tailed deer on the west side of the Cascades. Warm temperatures will certainly be a hindrance on our side of the mountains, but those who hunt early and late in the day can avoid the heat and possibly find a buck.
The archery season also opens in September. However, the early elk season doesn’t start until the 10th.
Bird hunters also have the opportunity on Thursday and over Labor Day weekend to go out hunting. Previously the dove and grouse hunting seasons opened first, but a few years ago the regulations changed and now only doves will open on Thursdays.
The Grouse of the Forests will open on September 15.
In recent years, hunters have found numerous doves in and around grain fields in the Yakima Valley and other agricultural areas of eastern Washington. This year should be no different.
Unfortunately, no official surveys are made of dove populations in the area, but anecdotally there seem to be plenty of mourning doves in the area. Hunters who have done pre-season scouting and located a harvested grain field where the birds come to feed should find enough doves to shoot by dawn on Thursday.
The limit for Mourning Doves is 15 per hunter per day. And as a bonus, there are no limits on Eurasian Collared Doves. Eurasian Doves, which are slightly larger and lighter in color than Mourning Doves, are recognizable by the black stripe on the back of their neck.
Collared doves are an invasive species, and state officials are happy for hunters to take as many as they can.
Some of the best dove hunting is in the lower valley on the Yakama reserve.
Unless the fields are marked “Feel Free To Hunt”, hunters are reminded that they must obtain permission to hunt on private land. In addition to a state hunting license and a state migratory bird stamp, hunters will also need a Yakama Nation hunting license to hunt in the preserve.
There are other options for hunters who wish to hunt doves in the Lower Valley. Fast-flying birds can be found in grain fields near Zillah, Sunnyside, Grandview, and Prosser.
If you want a slightly bigger bird in the bag, another season that opens first in parts of eastern Washington is the fall turkey season. The liberal fall season offers hunters the opportunity to take up to four turkeys, including two beardless and two sex birds at select game management units in the state’s northeast.
In other game management units, hunters can take a turkey of either sex when the season opens Thursday.
This is the time of year when the turkeys start to flock in a bit, the toms gathering in herds, and the hens and young of the year in herds.
During the fall, turkeys are difficult to call, so hunters must find birds and hunt them down or try to ambush them.
Hunters are encouraged to check the regulations and find out which areas are open for the fall turkey season. No fall season is open in Central Washington Game Management Units.
The cooler September temperatures, when they arrive, will also help with fishing in the area. Already a good number of fall Chinook salmon are coming up the Columbia River, but the warm water temperatures have sometimes left the big fish in a non-biting mood.
The cooler waters of Lake Drano and the mouth of the Klickitat River have been the most popular places to fish in recent days.
Once the fish are further upstream in the Hanford Reach above the Tri-Cities later in September, fishing will begin there as well.
Fall walleye fishing should also pick up a bit in the coming days. The best fishing will be in the Columbia below McNary Dam and in some reservoirs such as Potholes and Banks Lake.
The calendar rolls out on Thursday and with the arrival of September comes new hunting opportunities. With the three-day weekend coming up, it should be the perfect time to be outdoors.