Rob Phillips: The new year welcomes reminders of successes or failures, licensing to come | Outdoors and leisure


I received a notification the other day from the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife reminding me to report the success, or lack thereof, of the big game and turkey tags I purchased in 2021. Reports, which can be filed online, are due by the end of January. If you don’t file a report, the state will add an additional $10 to your total when you purchase your license for 2022.

That was a pretty quick report for me. I haven’t had any success in our beautiful state this year and was able to make a pretty good batch of tag soup.

Speaking of permits, you can purchase your 2022 hunting and fishing license now, but 2021 permits are still valid until the end of March. You can also purchase your multi-season deer and elk app now. If raffled, you have the option of spending another amount of money to be able to hunt with archery equipment, a muzzleloader, and a modern rifle during those particular seasons.

In the past, the multi-season deer license was much easier to pull, but you cannot pull the multi-season elk or deer license if you haven’t submitted an application.

Most hunting seasons are now in the books, but waterfowl hunters can still get out and enjoy a few extra hunting days. The duck and geese season ends this Sunday, January 30. I spoke with a few hunters last weekend at the Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show, and it looked like they were still having good luck with ducks and geese in the lower Yakima Valley.

Even though I don’t do a lot of waterfowl hunting, mainly because I haven’t found a recipe yet that I like to flavor ducks or geese, I was planning to come out just to give my lab Bailey a good run before the season ended. Our season ended on Monday, however, after I took her to the vet to examine a spot on her leg that wasn’t healing. She is now on the bench for two weeks to allow minor surgery to repair the spot to heal.

We had a pretty good birding season, although we didn’t catch a lot of birds. I love watching Bailey’s intensity when she hits the fields. It’s a deal as soon as I put his orange warning collar on him. We started the season in eastern Montana where we had great pheasant hunting, then found the occasional pheasant and a few quail in central Washington.

Don’t you remember when your school won that state title? Need to settle a bet? A place for decades of valley sports.

Bailey has never been my strongest retriever, in that she brings the bird back, once she sees me and sees me seeing her, she stops and puts the bird down, like she said, ‘I’ve made it this far, you can come the extra five yards to pick it up. With a little coaxing, I can get her to go all the way, but she’s in no rush to do so.

Now, tackling a falling bird is another story. Again, she is strong willed and she will stick around after a downed bird with real determination. During a hunt in November, a friend shot a rooster pheasant that fell between a patch of heavy weeds and a field of standing corn. Bailey disappeared after the shot and I thought she was on the bird, but after a few minutes of not hearing or seeing her, I tried calling her back. She didn’t come and didn’t come, so I pressed the locator button on her cervix. Far, far in the middle of the cornfield, I heard the faint beep of her collar. I whistled it and a minute later pressed the locator. The beep was a little louder. A few minutes later, I pressed the button again, and she was even closer. Finally I heard her running through the stalks and a second later she was out of the corn at head height, carrying the rooster.

She’s had other long recoveries over the past five seasons, but this was one of Bailey’s best. It’s a bit sad that we now have to wait eight months until the opening of the next bird season.

This may be the year I will see if she will be a ship’s dog. She likes to go on truck rides, so I think she might enjoy a fishing trip or two.

Speaking of fishing, Virg Umbarger, Greg Wilson and I fished for a day and a half at Lake Roosevelt last week. The fishing wasn’t searing, but we did manage to catch two very nice kokanee and a dozen triploid rainbow trout that were about 19 inches long. We hauled a variety of plugs, spinners and flies, and caught fish on almost everything we took out. Orange was the most productive color and everything was superficial.

And, just to boil blood in anticipation of the upcoming spring salmon season, the first spring chinook of the year was caught last Saturday in the lower Clackamas River near Portland. Spring salmon fishing seasons on the Washington Rivers are expected to be announced soon.

Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who wrote the Northwest Sportsman column for over 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected]


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