Wisconsin’s northern zone waterfowl hunters looking at another strong season
Madison — The 2017 North Zone duck season opens Sept. 23, and above average breeding conditions and a relatively wet summer mean Wisconsin’s hunters can expect good hunting.
“Conditions were above average this spring, and the entire state has seen abundant rainfall for most of the summer, with it starting to dry out heading into early fall. Waterfowlers should have the potential for a good season,” said DNR waterfowl ecologist Taylor Finger.
“Continental breeding surveys reported a near record numbers of ducks this spring. These surveys span 62 years. However, even with excellent continental breeding indications, local water levels and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall.”
The North Zone season will run Sept. 23 through Nov. 21. Opening day hours will begin 30 minutes before sunrise. The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than: four mallards (only one hen); one black duck; two canvasbacks; three wood ducks; one pintail; three scaup; and two redheads.
Five mergansers may be shot daily (no more than two hooded mergansers), and 15 coot. The possession limit remains three times the daily bag limit.
Many of the ducks shot in Wisconsin are produced from locally nesting ducks breeding in state wetlands. According to Finger, mallards, woodies, green-winged teal and blue-winged teal are the four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin’s fall harvest.
“As always, hunters who take the time to scout for good wetland conditions and observe what areas birds are using will have more success,” said Finger. “Hunter survey data in Wisconsin show that duck hunters who scouted three or more times harvested on average three to four times as many ducks as those who did not scout.”
Required licenses and stamps include a state small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp, and a federal migratory bird stamp. The federal stamp now costs $25.
The federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of buying the federal stamp privilege at DNR license vendors for a $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp will arrive weeks later in the mail.
Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program, that places them on a list of hunters who may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done during license purchase, but can always be added later if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.