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Modoc NWR hunts delayed until Oct. 18


By Frank Galusha
10/08/14 – While the California Northeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zone opened on October 4, hunting on the Modoc National Wildlife refuge in Alturas is being delayed until October 18 due to severe drought conditions. The water situation has actually improved since this announcement was made public on September 30 but there are now fewer birds on the refuge, according to Steve Clay, refuge manager.

The first dates open to hunters without Opening Day permits are Tuesday October 21, Thursday October 23 and Saturday, October 25. (Note: Hunting is allowed only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays after the opening weekend.)

“We have begun to receive a significant amount of water down the South Fork Pit River allowing for flooding more habitats within the hunting area of the Refuge,” Clay said. “We are now getting 20 to 30 cfs which should allow us to get to about 90 to 95% of the refuge hunt area properly flooded, this includes the new Sharkey and Matney fields on the east side of the river, for the new opener. However, the Grandma Tract will be dry until late November. A couple of dry grain fields will be available there until then.” Clay added. A hard freeze may limit hunter opportunity in the Grandma Tract by the time water gets there.

Modoc National Wildlife Westside Hunt Area Map
This Modoc NWR Westside Hunt Map shows Sharkey and Matney fields where habitat and hunting opportunity have been improved. Map courtesy of Modoc NWR

Much has been done to improve conditions for waterfowl and waterfowl hunters in the past year. In coordination with California Waterfowl Association and local contractors, the Refuge has completed a large project converting the “North Grain Field” into floodplain along the Pit River. The new floodplain area adds to the previous 120 acres to create 200 contiguous acres of floodplain wetlands, which provide valuable resources to a variety of nesting and migrating birds. The project created a new channel for the river, which now meanders through the previous “North Grain Field, emulating historic conditions of the Pit River.

Tulles were transplanted from the existing floodplain and moist soil plants were seeded into the new floodplain to promote a quick transition to a diverse wetland complex. The Refuge and its partners in the project are excited to see the results after all the hard work. We encourage hunters to have a look at the project.

Hunt-able Species
Only ducks, geese, coots, gallinules and common snipe may be hunted. All other species of wildlife, including pheasant, quail and dove, are protected and may not be killed.

Shells
Hunters may not possess more than 25 shotgun shells after leaving the parking areas. Only non-toxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be used on the Refuge. 50 CFR 32.24 (A) (5)

Permits
Hunting the first weekend of the season will be by special permit only. Permits are issued prior to the season and after a random drawing of applications. After opening weekend, hunters are required to use the self-check-in and check-out registration cards available at the information stations at the three designated parking lots in the hunt units.

Hunting Areas
Areas open to hunting are posted as such and are designated on the Refuge hunting map. Hunting areas are open 90 minutes before shooting time until 60 minutes after shooting time each hunt day.

Access
Hunters must enter and exit the hunting area from the three designated parking areas. All decoys and personal equipment must be taken in and out of the hunt area through the designated parking areas. Other access is prohibited. Guns must be unloaded in parking areas at all times.

Removal of Personal Property
All decoys and other personal property must be removed from the Refuge at the close of each day.
Blinds
Construction or use of permanent blinds is prohibited. Temporary blinds may be constructed, but such blinds shall be available for general use on a first-come, first-served basis.

Camping
Three commercial campgrounds are located in Alturas with overnight trailer hook-ups available. No overnight camping or parking is permitted on the Refuge.

Alcohol
The use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited. 50 CFR 32.2

For further information contact the Refuge Office at 530-233-3572.

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