Fish & Wildlife | Local

Herald and News: Displaced duck hunters find refuge at state park

The Klamath Falls Herald and News | Oct. 17, 2013 3:21 a.m. | Updated: Oct. 17, 2013 10:33 a.m. | Klamath Falls, Oregon

Contributed By:

DAVE MARTINEZ/H&N Staff Reporter

Bringing in his daily limit of waterfowl for the day, Travis Underwood opens the back of his truck, setting free a yellow-furred dog wearing a camouflage vest.

Lanny Fujishin walks from a well-heated shack at the entrance of the Miller Island Wildlife area to the to the back of Underwood’s truck. He’s impressed.

During Wednesday’s cold, clear conditions, Fujishin, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife area manager, said he wasn’t expecting hunters to bring in their daily limits.

He begins relaying the gender, species and approximate age of the fowl to check station attendant Ray Stephens. A quick exchange of words goes between the group, the dog jumps in the back of the truck and Underwood is off.

It was a break in the quiet that’s typical during this time of the week.

If the federal shutdown has displaced hunters from around the region, Miller Island hasn’t noticed.

“Over opening weekend, there were a lot of displaced hunters,” Fujishin said back inside the shack. “A lot of them have found alternative hunting spots.”

If the federal shutdown has displaced hunters from around the region, Miller Island hasn’t noticed.

“Over opening weekend, there were a lot if displaced hunters,” Fujishin said back inside the shack. “A lot of them have found alternative hunting spots.”

Miller Island is one of the more accessible hunting spots around the Klamath Basin. Just six miles south of Klamath Falls, it provides habitats for many species of waterfowl and upland birds.

But the waterfowl hunting season is off to an unusual start this year.

When the federal government shutdown furloughed thousands of federal employees on Oct. 1, hundreds of national wildlife refuges across the country were closed. That left state wildlife lands to accommodate hunters who would otherwise visit the Lower Klamath or Tule Lake refuges.

For hunters that schedule their vacations around opening day of duck hunting season, it was a scramble to find new places, Fujishin said. But since then, Miller Island has seen average attendance.

The weather might be keeping some hunters home. Sunny, clear skies are a bane for waterfowl hunters, revealing their shadows and giving birds an option to fly to their waters of choice. With the refuges closed, waterfowl are taking note of where they aren’t being harassed or hunted.

But for the dedicated hunters, bagging a few birds on an outing hasn’t been difficult.

“Hunting is a sport,” Stephens said. “You have to study it. You can be as good as you want to be or as poor as you want to be.”

dmartinez@heraldandnews.com;

@HandNMartinez

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