Duck identification workshop: ‘If you are a beginner, you need to know what you are shooting’

Beginner duck hunters are being encouraged by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to attend a free waterfowl identification workshop March 17 at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area near Lake Erie in Sandusky County.

With a variety of waterfowl moving along the Mississippi Flyway over Ohio, it is important to know the type of duck that is legal to hunt, according to the DOW.

“If you are a beginner (to duck hunting), you need to know what you are shooting,” said Kelley Schott, a DOW spokeswoman.

Waterfowl regulations proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each year go through a public-comment period and will be voted on May 2 by the Ohio Wildlife Council.

The USFWS works with states from the four Flyway Councils (Pacific, Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic) to establish regulatory frameworks for hunting season lengths, dates, and bag limits. States select individual seasons from within the federal frameworks. (Proposed rules can be viewed at, according to a USFWS news release.

For the 2018-2019 waterfowl hunting seasons, USFWS proposals for the Mississippi Flyway, which includes Ohio, are basically unchanged from last season, according to a news release. In addition to Ohio, the Mississippi Flyway comprises Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Under the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, about 170 species are game birds, according to the USFWS.

“Fewer than 60 species are typically hunted each year, subject to limits based on data from aerial surveys and other monitoring programs,” the USFWS wrote.

The USFWS has set a liberal framework for Ohio and has proposed a 60-day hunting season for waterfowl, according to Doug McClain, a waterfowl biologist at the Olentangy Wildlife Research Station in Delaware County.

The USFWS has proposed Ohio hunters cannot begin hunting waterfowl until the Saturday closest to Sept. 24 and not hunt beyond the last Sunday in January 2019.

Proposed daily bag limits include six ducks (not more than two hens and four mallards); three scaup; two American black ducks; two redheads; 2 canvasbacks; 2 pintails and one mottled duck (usually found along the flyway in Louisiana.)

The USFWS has proposed a 107-day hunting season for Canada geese, from Sept. 1 to Feb. 15. There would be a five-bird daily bag limit in September and a three-bird daily limit the rest of the geese season.

In addition, McLain said, the USFWS proposed a special 16-day teal season in September for the Mississippi Flyway.

“Some teal can’t tolerate cold weather and start to migrate south in August,” McClain said.

Hunters will be allowed to shoot blue, green and cinnamon teal.

McClain said “there would be next to no chance” for an Ohio duck hunter to bag a cinnamon teal, which is more of a western-ranging duck species.

Duck hunting in Ohio remains popular, McClain said, with about 25,000 duck hunters, annually.

“We have a pretty loyal following,” he said.

The duck workshop at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area will focus on “divers” such as ring-necks and scaup and “dabbler” ducks such as mallards, gadwalls, and pintails, said Schott, the DOW spokeswoman who will lead the workshop.

Diving ducks sit lower in the water, and some species can dive to 30 feet or more in search of food. Dabbler ducks sit higher in shallower water or in marshes, and “tip up” to feed on aquatic vegetation.

Schott and other DOW professionals, including experienced duck hunters, will include basics of waterfowl identification and waterfowl life history. Workshop attendees will also have a chance to view spring migrating ducks in the wildlife area.

“Light and weather are different in the field,” Schott said when it comes to waterfowl identification. For example, she said, “flight patterns of teal are drastically different from mallards, more zig and zag.”

The workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area, located at 3451 County Road 256, Vickery, 43464. Pre-registration is required by March 15, as space is limited.

Interested individuals can register by calling Schott at 419-898-0960 ext 21.

Categories: Hunting News, Waterfowl