Waterfowl season is open in the North Panhandle

Fall migration of waterfowl is on throughout the Panhandle Region, bringing thousands of birds and groups of eager waterfowl hunters to our Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) for opening weekend. Boundary-Smith Creek and McArthur Lake WMA's both offer opportunities to hunt waterfowl from October 12th through January 24th. Both wetland complexes normally ice over in mid to late November, so take advantage of early season hunting opportunities, any day of the week.

Boundary-Smith Creek has water at varying levels in the north, north-central and southern cells of the property that draw good numbers of birds to feed and loaf throughout the day. This allows for opportunity not far from a road, or some lower pressure, interior spots accessed by foot along trails or by small watercraft along the main slough that runs through the WMA. Blinds & decoy sets, jump-shooting and pass-shooting are all possible on the WMA. Nearly 1,500 waterfowl were surveyed this past week, led by mallard, wigeon, and Canada geese, with pintail, gadwall and white-fronted geese making occasional appearances as well. Be prepared for occasional thick fog hugging the Kootenai River until late morning on cold, still days, and always be aware that grizzly bears do frequent the area.

McArthur Lake WMA is steadily refilling after a managed drawdown over the summer. The drawdown allowed for fantastic amounts of smartweed, beggartick, wapato and other wetland forage to grow along the exposed mudflats, and the birds are responding to the glut of groceries. Around 1,400 waterfowl have been observed over the past few weeks, with a mixed bag of Canada geese, mallard, wigeon, wood duck, teal, pintail, and gadwall. Water levels may not allow access to your previous favorite spot until later in the season, but opportunities along the western and eastern shorelines exist for those who want to access new spots by foot or small paddlecraft. Those who hunt layout blinds can take advantage of many spots around the reservoir, and those who prefer setting up in cattail and bulrush will find a growing number of spots as the levels rise throughout the season.

Please adhere to all applicable hunting regulations including limits and shooting hours, and enjoy!

Migratory Bird Regulations 

To hunt waterfowl in Idaho you need:

  • Idaho hunting license
  • Migratory Bird (HIP) Permit
  • Nontoxic shot
  • Federal Migratory Bird (Duck) Stamp for all hunters 16 or older