Waterfowl hunting

2013 waterfowl hunt opener conditions

Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area

Marsh conditions

Main impoundments — Good to excellent aquatic vegetation growth, with the West Unit being best. In the marsh, over 800 ac of east and west impoundments' phragmites has been reopened by continued livestock grazing this year.

Exterior flats — Poor conditions on flats to north and east. A small impoundment to the northwest is filling. Willard Spur has much less water than last year on this date with much of it being completely dry!

Rainbow Unit — Fair conditions. The GSL Canal Pond was mostly dry this summer, but surprisingly, it has more water on it now than it does most years at this time. Inflows increased this week! The 800 acres on the north end of the pond, and along the GSL Mineral canal, are almost full. The area north of the Rail Trail looks good on the east end. It was chemical treated for phrags and burned this past spring. The Rainbow Pond (the large pond on the south side of the unit) is completely dry right now.

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

Bird numbers

Main impoundments — Incredible numbers of both ducks and geese are on the west and slightly lower on the east impoundments ponds and grazed flats. The south impoundment is holding good numbers of birds; bird density increases along the south edge. 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 — Poor, only birds are in flooded flats close to the northwest dikes. Outward areas are much drier than normal this year.

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

A sometimes 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 and few sick birds may be found. Many of the bird recover in the fresher water on Crane. Avoid handling or allowing your dog to handle any located 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 has been enlarged, also. All main impoundments are at normal water levels for boating. 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 was cleaned last fall. 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 new small channel was excavated along the South Dike through a shallow area to improve boating access to the popular South Unit.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation road to Harold Crane through Willard Upland Game Bird Area will be graded before the general hunt by DWR. The installed much larger head gates in the South Drain channel around Willard Bay Reservoir, include under the main road to Crane. The head gate bridges are slightly narrower than the road, so be careful. Some minor construction activities will be ongoing, but it is hoped these will be completed by the general opener.

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 dry some of the huge numbers of birds may leave prematurely, but will be concentrated on Crane as they migrate through.