Mother Nature’s giving spirit helps hunters

Happy holidays to all. May the season be joyous for you and your family. And if you are one of the many who went fishing or waterfowl hunting this morning, I hope the dog house is dry and warm. You might need it.

Since today is supposed to be about giving, I can’t help but notice Mother Nature’s gift to those of us who hunt and to the upland game we enjoy hunting. The moisture we received this fall will do much to increase reproduction among our quail, chukar and rabbit populations. If this wet weather pattern continues into February, we could see a marked improvement in the upland game hunts next fall. It will start with green up on the desert as wild grasses and seed-bearing plants begin to grow after a long absence.

Speaking of bird hunting, the hunters who went afield this morning probably bagged a few ducks and perhaps a goose or two. The inclement weather has pushed good numbers of birds into Southern Nevada.

Brock Perry, a lifelong Nevadan who grew up hunting waterfowl and teaches duck-calling seminars for Sportsman’s Warehouse, drove more than 2,000 miles chasing birds the past two weekends. “There are a lot of birds in Southern Nevada right now,” Perry said. “Pahranagat is totally full and holds a variety of species. There are probably 5,000 birds on the refuge.”

I heard the reservoirs at Kirch Wildlife Management Area were frozen over with thin ice, but Perry said open water still is accessible to boaters. At Key Pittman, Nesbitt is about half-frozen with open water at the north end. That open water could close quickly, so be careful. Closer to Las Vegas, hunters at the Overton Wildlife Management Area are seeing an increase in birds and shooting opportunity spurred by the recent storm activity. Even a few geese are in the area, and they are coming in to decoys.

Perry recommends using larger decoy spreads with pintail, widgeon and mallard decoys included in your spread and calling with pintail and widgeon calls. If the birds hold up out of shooting range, go to a mallard call and increase your volume, he said. At Key Pittman and Kirch, incorporate a few divers such as bufflehead or ring-necks in your decoy spread. Using a jerk string will add motion and might draw in more birds.

Camouflage and duck calling are on the agenda for seminars Perry will be teaching Jan. 5 and 6 at Sportsman’s Warehouse, 390 Lake Mead Parkway in Henderson. They will begin at 6 p.m.

Other seminars being offered by the store in 2009 will address predator calling, reloading and archery. Hunter education also is on the agenda. Call 702-566-4700 for more information.

FLY-FISHING CLASSES — If Santa brought you a new fly-fishing rod but you’re not quite sure what to do with it, you might want to attend the series of weekly fly-fishing classes taught by Steve White, a certified fly-casting instructor, and Bill Tereso at Bass Pro Shop.

White said four classes will be in the series. The first will cover the basics of equipment — rods, reels, fly-lines, waders and essential knots. The second will introduce participants to fly-casting. The third will focus on strategies for fishing various types of water, from streams to lakes. And the fourth class will give members an introduction to entomology in which Tereso will teach about insects in relation to fly-fishing and how to select the proper fly.

In the warmer months, White will demonstrate how to read and approach a stream by teaching the class while walking the stream located in front of the Bass Pro store. He also hopes to offer an advanced class for those with a little fly-fishing experience.

The beginning classes will be held at 7 p.m. each Wednesday beginning Jan. 7. There is no charge. Call the Fly Shop at 702-730-5200 for more information.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation editor for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His column is not affiliated with or endorsed by the department. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at doug@takinitoutside.com.

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