LONG BEACH, Wash. - The Washington Department of Fish and Wild-life's annual youth-only bird hunting weekend is set Saturday and Sunday.

The season is open to hunters younger than 16. An adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting must accompany the youth hunter.

Youth hunters can pursue duck, coot, Canada goose and pheasants in Eastern and Western Washington, as well as quail, chukar and gray partridge in eastern Washington. Snipe are off-limits during the youth-only hunt.

Pacific, Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Grays Harbor counties are closed to goose hunting during the early youth hunt.

"Field biologists are reporting good bird populations throughout many portions of the state," said WDFW upland game manager Mick Cope.

With no sheetwater forming yet in agricultural areas, WDFW waterfowl section manager Don Kraege said hunters would do well to concentrate on hunting areas near large lakes, rivers, irrigated lands and estuaries.

"The weather has generally been quite dry for ducks and geese, so Western Washington hunters may fare better from a boat, rather than land-based blinds," he said.

WDFW wildlife areas can provide excellent hunting opportunities and access for hunters throughout the state, Kraege said. Details on specific WDFW wildlife areas are available at (http://www.wa.gov/wdfw/lands/wildarea.htm) on the Internet.

Youth hunters are required to have a valid small game license ($16.43), and a free migratory bird validation. Westside youth pheasant hunters are also required to purchase a pheasant permit for $18.

Additional hunting information is available in the 2003-04 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet, which can be found at WDFW regional offices, retail outlets, and online at (www.wa.gov/wdfw/wlm/game/water/water.htm) on the Internet.

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