Waterfowl hunting

2017 waterfowl hunt opener conditions

Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area

Marsh conditions

Main impoundments — There is good aquatic vegetation growth, but the West Unit is the best. A successful rotenone treatment in March eliminated tens of thousands of carp in the south impoundment. Sago pondweed growth has been great since the treatment.

Exterior flats — Conditions are good on flats to north and east. A small impoundment to the northwest is filling.

Rainbow Unit — The Rainbow Pond is full of water and will have water throughout the hunt. The 800 acres on the north end and along the GSL Mineral canal are currently dry, but are filling. The area north of the Rail Trail also looks good on the east end. It was grazed by cattle and has good water.

Overall, marsh and impoundments conditions have improved because of major habitat developments.

Bird numbers

Main impoundments — There are great duck and geese numbers in the area to the west, and good numbers of birds on the east impoundment ponds. The east and west grazed areas have an impressive amount of ducks and geese. The south impoundment holds a good number of birds, with the density increasing along the south edge. There has been more late-summer bird use the last few years, but preseason scouting and the youth hunt will temporarily displace some birds.

Exterior flats — The numbers are fair. Birds are only in flooded flats close to the northwest dikes.

Rainbow Unit — There is a fair number of birds north of the Rail Trial in the phragmites treatment area. Goose numbers have improved and are good overall.


The gates will open on Thursday, September 21, 2017. The road with three parking lots — which provides access to the west Rainbow Unit — is in good shape. The main Harold Crane parking lot has been improved. All of the main impoundments are at normal water levels for boating. The south impoundment is full, but it is now held at slightly lower compromise level.

The newer, northbound water distribution channels (located near the center dike) in both the east and west impoundments have improved access for hunters willing to carry their small boats across the south dike. The east access channel into the non-motorized boating only area (east unit) was cleaned and a boat launch was installed. This channel starts at the west end of the main parking lot.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation road to Harold Crane, through Willard Upland Game Bird Area, is in good shape because of the hard work of our waterfowl maintenance crew. The head gatebridges are slightly narrower than the road, so be careful.

Hunt forecast

Hunting should be great for the youth hunt and general opener as long as the birds stick around. Many of the remote areas will not be hunted during the youth hunt, so they should provide excellent hunting on the general opener for anyone who is willing to expend a little extra effort.