Waterfowl hunting

2012 waterfowl hunt opener conditions

Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area

Marsh conditions

Main impoundments — Excellent aquatic vegetation growth. In the marsh, over 800 acres of east and west impoundments' phragmites has been retreated chemically last year and reopened by livestock grazing this year.

Exterior flats — Good. All flats to west, north and east are being flooded. A small impoundment to the northwest was repaired and is filling. Willard Spur has much less water than last year on this date is very shallow.

Rainbow Unit — Fair, Rainbow pond was partially dry during the summer, but it has more water than most years at this time. The ponds on the north end and along the GSL Mineral canal are almost full. The area north of the Rail Trail has been chemical treated for phragmites and is listed for burning as soon as possible.

Generally, marsh and impoundments conditions are improved due to major habitat manipulations.

Bird numbers

Main impoundments — Incredible numbers of both ducks and geese are on the west and east impoundments ponds and grazed flats. The south impoundment is holding the least birds. Higher late summer bird use the last few years has been noted and this years is particularly exceptional, but preseason scouting and youth hunt will temporarily displace some birds

Exterior flats — Fair, birds are in flooded flats close to the north and west dikes. Outward areas were drier than normal this year

Rainbow Unit — fair with some birds on the Rainbow Pond and much better duck and goose numbers on the north ponds and along GSL Mineral Canal. Goose numbers are overall good and improved.

The two-years-ago moderate-level botulism outbreak has not occurred in the Willard Spur to the north, but we have had late September outbreaks on hot, high-bird density years like this one, so few sick birds might be found. Many of the bird recover in the fresher water on Crane. Avoid handling or allowing your dog to handle any sick or dead birds.


The road with three parking lots accessing the west Rainbow Unit is in good shape. The main Harold Crane parking lot was enlarged. All main impoundments are at normal water levels. The south impoundment is full, but now will be held at slightly lower compromise level after an agreement was finished with other agencies and upstream landowners.

Newer north-bound water distribution channels located near the center dike, in both the east and west impoundments, provide improved access for those willing to carry small boats across the south dike. The east access channel into the non-motorized boating only, east unit will be cleaned before the general hunt but is partially blocked right now. A newer east impoundment boat launch was installed a couple years ago. This channel starts at the west end of the main parking lot. A handicap-accessible boat dock was placed in the south impoundment.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation road to Harold Crane through Willard Upland Game Bird Area will be graded before the general hunt by the DWR. Much larger head gates were installed in the South Drain channel around Willard Bay Reservoir, including under the main road to Crane. The head gate bridges are slightly narrower than the road, so be careful.

Hunt forecast

Should be great for the youth hunt and general opener if the birds stick around. Many of the remote areas will not be hunted on the youth hunt and should provide excellent hunting on the General Opener for anyone willing to expend a little extra effort. Because the Willard Spur is so low, some of the huge numbers of birds may leave prematurely.

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