Waterfowl All Winter

It's pretty easy to get in on this lottery-draw hunt

Outdoor Life Online Editor

**California ** Waterfowlers at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley bagged around 20,000 ducks last year, mostly mallards, green-winged teal, gadwalls and wigeon, along with about 700 geese, mostly snows. That's a solid tally for public-access hunting.

The last part of this year's split duck season opens November 30 and will run to January 26; goose season also ends January 26. The best hunting occurs from late December to the end of the season. Gray Lodge is open for waterfowl hunting every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and the limit is five ducks daily. The goose limit is three per day. Look for windy, rainy or foggy days for the best shooting.

The area is a mixture of uplands and wetlands dominated by stands of cattail and tules and waders are a must to access the best areas. Try to select a location a good distance from the parking area and be prepared to pack in at least a dozen decoys; two dozen is better. About 8,500 acres of the 9,200-acre wildlife area is open to hunting.

There is a daily quota of 400 hunters. Reservations will be honored and the balance of the quota (not filled by reservation holders) is filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters can apply for reservations in advance by purchasing an application card ($1.05) from any license agent and sending it to the Department of Fish and Game at least 17 days prior to a preferred hunt day. It will be entered in a lottery draw. The entry fee is $13 per day, $100 for the season.

Contact: Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (530-846-7500).