Duck season set for Sept. 28, Oct. 5

Manitowoc, Wis. Natural Resources Board (NRB) members brushed
away DNR duck opener recommendations and instead approved a
northern zone duck opener of Sept. 28 and southern zone opener of
Oct. 5.

Duck hunters will have a 60-day season with a six-duck daily bag
limit (no canvasback season). The northern zone season will run
straight through for 60 days, but the NRB allowed a split season in
the southern zone.

The regular Canada goose season will open Sept. 21 in the
northern Exterior Zone and Sept. 28 in the southern Exterior Zone.
The Horicon and Collins goose seasons will begin Sept. 16.

The framework adopted by the NRB on Aug. 14 in Manitowoc
included substantial revisions to the framework proposed by DNR
staff, and presented to the public at hearings in August.

“In 2002, we were given the opportunity to open the season a
week earlier than in the past, and many hunters expressed interest
in this earlier hunt,” said Scott Walter, acting DNR migratory game
bird ecologist.

“Based upon that interest, we proposed the earlier opener of
Sept. 21 in the northern duck zone. However, the vast majority of
hunters who attended public hearings around the state favored later
opening dates in both duck zones, and the Natural Resources Board
adopted these later dates in response.”

While hunters who favored the earlier opening dates may be
concerned about the switch, Walter noted that public opinion was
very divided on this issue.

“There was tremendous participation at the hearings and the
overwhelming support shown there was for the later openers,” Walter
said. “The board listened to those comments and made a decision
that they felt addressed the preference of the majority of
waterfowl hunters.

“We have a system in place in Wisconsin that allows more public
input than you’ll see anywhere else,” he said. “This year’s season
dates are an excellent example of how citizen input can influence
the process. I hope all hunters realize that their voices were
heard and considered as we put together the seasons.”

Duck season dates

The duck, coot, and merganser season will run 60 days, but the
openers will differ between the north and south duck zones.

Northern duck zone: Sept. 28 (noon) through Nov. 26.

Southern duck zone: Oct. 5 (noon) through Oct. 13; Oct. 19
through Dec. 8.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not offer the
option of canvasback hunting in 2002 because of declines in that
population, so that season is closed this year. Also, the pintail
season will run only during the first 30 days in each zone, also
because of declining populations.

Shooting hours will be 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset,
except for opening day in each zone, when shooting hours begin at
noon.

Duck daily bag limits

Ducks: six per day, not more than four mallards, one black duck,
two redheads, two wood ducks, and three scaup.

Hunters are allowed one hen mallard per day in both zones
through Oct. 18. From Oct. 19 through the end of the duck season,
the hen mallard limit increases to two per day.

Pintail: one bird per day from Sept. 28 through Oct. 27 in the
north zone, and from Oct. 5-13 and Oct. 19 through Nov. 8 in the
southern zone.

Canvasback: closed.

Mergansers: five in addition to the daily duck bag, to include
not more than one hooded merganser.

The possession limits are double the daily bag limits.

Walter said the board’s decision to increase the hen mallard
limit to two per day on Oct. 19 was surprising, since Wisconsin has
traditionally opted for a more conservative one-hen-per-day limit
in order to protect local mallards. However, Walter noted this
decision will likely not have much impact on local birds, since the
bulk of the local birds are shot early in the season.

Canada goose seasons

Canada goose seasons will open on Sept. 16 in the Collins and
Horicon zones, Sept. 21 in the northern Exterior Zone (including
the Brown County Subzone), and Sept. 28 in the southern Exterior
Zone (including the Rock Prairie and Mississippi River subzones). A
94-day season is possible in the north, and a 92-day season in the
south, but one or both zones may close early if hunters reach the
state quota.

“The quota in the Exterior Zone is a bit higher than last year,”
Walter said. “However, our exterior goose season now opens a week
prior to the regular duck season in both zones. This relatively
early Exterior Zone opener may increase harvest enough so that
we’ll see an early closure.”

The Mississippi River Subzone will have a 70-day season that is
not prone to early closure.

The Horicon and Collins zone hunting periods will be as follows:
Horicon Zone, period one, Sept. 16 through Oct. 20; period two,
Sept. 30 through Nov. 3; period three, Oct. 12 through Nov. 15;
period four, Nov. 2 through Dec. 18 . Collins Zone, period one,
Sept. 16 through Oct. 6; period two, Oct. 7-27; period three, Oct.
28 through Nov. 22.

On Oct. 5, shooting hours begin at noon in both zones.

Canada goose bag limits

Assuming that the number of hunters applying for tags in the
Horicon and Collins zones does not increase greatly from last year,
all hunters will receive two tags. In addition, the daily bag in
these zones has been increased to two Canada geese per day this
year. In the Exterior Zone, the bag limit will remain at one Canada
goose per day.

Youth waterfowl hunt

A special youth waterfowl hunt will again be offered this year,
Sept. 21-22. The hunt is open to 12- to 15-year-olds who must be
hunter safety certified and HIP certified. Those wishing to hunt
geese must obtain the correct regular season Canada goose permit
for the zone in which they’ll be hunting. If hunting the Horicon or
Collins zones, a permit for any hunting period is valid.

All other required licenses (small game license, state and
federal waterfowl stamps) are waived for kids participating in the
Sept. 21-22 hunt.

All youths must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. The adult
may not accompany more than two youth hunters. The adult may not
hunt ducks either day, but may hunt Canada geese if they possess a
permit for the zone and time period in which they’re hunting, and
are hunting in either the Horicon, Collins, or north Exterior Zone.
Adults may not hunt geese during the Youth Hunt in the south
Exterior Zone. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to
sunset. All other state and federal rules pertaining to duck and
goose hunting apply.

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