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Shelton Mason County Journal
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January 2, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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January 2, 2014

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Ashley Mateson waits for a chance at a duck. By KELLY RIORDAN kellyr@masoncounty.com rhe holiday season is upon us and |time spent with family and friends ,L should be at the top of everyone's list. That is no different for me and I took advantage of an opportunity last week- end. My good friend, Garry Greenwalt, came to visit from Eastern Washington for some late season deer hunting first and foremost. Secondly, he was here on an ongoing quest to hunt some hard to get waterfowl species. We had already spent a day in the field when it was decided to take two of my daughters, Ashley and Taylor, and my duck retriever and chocolate lab Ry- der along for the day. The goal was to get out in the woods and explore. The jour- ney would take us through most of Mason County. The starting point was Hood Canal. We were looking for a beautiful duck spe- cies called a hooded merganser. Many in the waterfowl world consider this a junk bird because the duck is not good for table fare. Hoodies as they are often called, feed on dead and decaying chum salmon as well as salmon eggs that are in rivers right now. The feeding schedule of the duck often leaves the duck stinky and the meat can taste like it smells. Garry wanted one to get it mounted and I told him not to worry about the taste. Ducks that are not great for the oven go to pepperoni at my house. Hood Canal was calm and beautiful as we pulled the truck offthe road to look for ducks. The mouth of the Skokomish River was full of all kinds of species including mallard, widgeon and pintail. Binoculars were used to carefully look for the hoodie. We looked over a thousand ducks and oth- er shore birds, but no hooded merganser could be found. The next stop was along the shores of the Skokomish River. Bald eagles were plentiful in the area, feeding on the fall salmon runs. Mature eagles mixed with younger ones perched in trees lining the river looking stuffed and comfortable. While still looking at a group of eagles, I spotted a merganser. Garry and my daughters got excited until I informed them that the birds were a different spe- cies of merganser. Below us on the river was a large group of common mergansers. This species look like a giant compared to the smaller hooded merganser. Location changes were important be- cause of the amount of ground we planned to cover. Our next move was to head into the foothills of the Olympic Mountains. I knew of a few ponds and creeks that we could check for the targeted duck. Before we could make it to the next area, we again stopped to take in a sight. Below us in the Skokomish Valley was a large herd of Roosevelt Elk. Garry lives in the land of the subspecies Rocky Moun- tain elk and for him, seeing the larger- bodied Roosevelt elk was a treat. Page C-4- Mas] County Journal- Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 F ;H I .............  .... F