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Pheasants plentiful on base property
Nebraska and South Dakota are famous for giving pheasant hunters the opportunity to bag one of the colorful birds but thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated Whidbey Islanders, there is some fabulous hunting for “Chinas” only a short distance from downtown Oak Harbor.
Along Crescent Harbor Road, just east of the Torpedo Road entrance to the Seaplane Base, and also in an area east of the water tower adjacent to the Crescent Harbor Capehart housing development, Navy property is open for hunting — provided you have the required licenses and permits.
Flora and fauna conducive to pheasant habitat thrive on the property and with the help of volunteers who raise and periodically stock the area with birds, hunters and their dogs have a good chance of putting some tasty fare on the dining room table.
On Sunday morning, four rigs were parked at the gated entrance to the property near to Torpedo Road and three parties of hunters and their dogs were stomping through the brush in search of birds.
Tom Meyer, who said he is lead mechanic for the Oak Harbor School District, and his dog, Spot, were ready to hit the field just after 8:30 a.m.
Armed with a single-shot Sears and Roebuck .410 shotgun he said his father bought for him to hunt ducks with when he was 10 years old, Meyer said the birds were going to have a heck of an advantage this morning.
To hunt the area steel shot has to be used and Meyer said he has a friend who reloads the shells for him because you can’t find .410 steel in stores.
“It’s not important if I get a bird, it’s important that I get out and have a good time,” he said. “The dog just loves it and she is a great pointer.”
Meyer and his wife, Marlene, are two of the people who help plant birds on the property.
“My wife and I planted at about 6 a.m. this morning and thankfully, I’m old enough not to remember where we planted them,” he said with a laugh. “We didn’t bring the dog along so she would remember where they were but when we plant the birds, they usually take off running after we turn them loose.”
Meyer said the pheasant release is a heck of a good program and a lot of people hunt the area.
Birds are also planted on Wednesday mornings and many senior citizens take advantage of hunting during the week when there are fewer people and less pressure.
“I’m glad the Navy opened this back up,” he said. “They didn’t cut the grass this year and it makes better cover for the birds. The birds will climb down into the tall grass and really make a dog work.”
Many different kids of dogs ranging from high-end expensive ones to just plain old house pets can be seen roaming the brush in search of birds and they have just as much fun as the hunters do when one of the brightly-colored cock pheasants breaks cover.
“Bagging a bird is not an end-all,” Meyer said. “It’s fun to take one home, but it’s more fun just to get out with your dog and have a good time.”
Keith Hofkamp, who said he grew up in Oak Harbor and now lives in Burlington, along with his brother, Kevin, an Oak Harbor resident, had a successful hunting trip Sunday morning.
Along with their dogs, Captain and Tessa, the Hofkamp brothers had bagged four pheasants and were headed home by 10 a.m.
“We had a pretty good morning,” Keith Hofkamp said.
Planting birds on the property will continue through Thanksgiving and hunters will be able to pursue the “left overs” until the season ends on Dec. 15.