Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Split duck season begins on Sept. 22

Staff Reports

Madison – State waterfowl hunters will enjoy a full 60-day
Wisconsin duck season – the longest allowed under federal
guidelines – with hunters in the northern duck zone getting a
one-week jump on the season this year.

The duck season in the North Zone will open at 9 a.m. on
Saturday, Sept. 22, while the South Zone will open at 9 a.m. on
Saturday, Sept. 29.

The season framework includes a six-duck daily bag limit that
this year offers an increase in the canvasback duck bag from one to
two birds.

Also, the early closure provision for the Exterior Zone of the
regular Canada goose season is gone, but there is a split in the
southern zone of the Exterior goose zone for Canada goose
hunting.

‘Wisconsin waterfowlers should have a good hunting season,’ said
DNR migratory game bird ecologist Kent Van Horn. ‘Overall,
populations of waterfowl game species are healthy and abundant.

‘We are experiencing some very dry conditions in many areas and,
as always, hunters who do the early legwork – seeking out the
potholes and backwaters that still have decent water levels and
securing landowner permission – will be the ones filling their
bags.’

Other changes for 2007 will allow Horicon Zone hunters to place
decoys and shoot at birds that are within the 75-yard Horicon
refuge boundary, provided the hunter is outside this boundary.

Duck season

In the north, the season will open Sept. 22 and continue
straight through until the close on Nov. 20.

However the season in the south will be split, running from
Sept. 29 through Oct. 7. The season closes for five weekdays, and
then reopens on Oct. 13 and continues through Dec. 2.

In recent years there had been ‘seasons within a season’ on
pintails and canvasbacks, but this year those species will be open
during the entire season.

U.S. surveys showed that May pond counts were up 13 percent and
the midcontinent mallard population was 8.3 million (up 14 percent
from last year).

Breeding populations on the prairies included 2.9 million
green-winged teal, 6.7 million blue-winged teal (both are close to
record highs and about 50 percent above long-term averages), which
allows extra 16-day teal seasons for some southern states in
September. Wisconsin is not allowed the bonus season because it is
considered a ‘breeding’ state.

Scaup were at 3.5 million, which is 33 percent below its
long-term average, but numbers increased slightly this year.

In comparison, the scaup harvest totals 280,000 per year,
whereas the mallard breeding population, which is about 9 million,
has a annual harvest of 4.5 million.

Wisconsin’s breeding survey was not as encouraging as were the
prairie pothole surveys. The state was fairly dry, especially in
the north and western regions. The total duck estimate (470,600
birds) was about average, but down 10 percent from last year.

Van Horn noted that Wisconsin has about 85,000 waterfowl
hunters, which is the third highest in the nation (behind Texas and
Minnesota), and the state’s harvest is about 38 percent mallards,
17 percent wood ducks, 10 percent green-winged teal, and 8 percent
blue-winged teal.

Goose outlook

The resident population of Canada geese is down slightly (7
percent from last year), while the Mississippi Valley Population
(which migrates from Ontario and winters in southern Illinois) is
up 5 percent.

The Exterior Zone will run for 85 days (two-bird daily bag).
During the five days that the duck season is closed in the Exterior
Zone, the Canada goose season will be closed in the South Zone,
too. That does not affect the Horicon or Collins zones.

Hunters in the Horicon and Collins zones will receive six goose
tags.

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