Are new waterfowl zones on the horizon?

The Michigan DNR is looking at possibly restructuring Michigan’s waterfowl hunting zones and they’re asking duck and goose hunters for their thoughts.

The proposed changes are significant and, in my opinion, reflect the difference we’ve seen in weather over the past 10 to 20 years.

Michigan is currently divided into three waterfowl hunting zones: the north (Upper Peninsula), middle (northern Lower Peninsula) and south (southern Lower Peninsula). Specifically, the DNR, on the advice of the Citizens Waterfowl Advisory Committee, is looking at whether the eastern Upper Peninsula should be included with the Middle Zone; whether Saginaw Bay should be included in the Middle or South Zone, and whether coastal Great Lakes areas of the northwest Lower Peninsula, now in the Middle Zone but slower to freeze than inland areas, should be included in the South Zone.

It may sound confusing, but take a look at the survey and the zones on the DNR website – Michigan.gov/DNR – and you’ll see the distinctions.

I’m glad that the DNR and CWAC are taking a look at this. I live in the Eastern U.P., and when I first came up here nearly 40 years ago, you were lucky if you could get out in a boat on the bays of the St. Mary’s River past Halloween. Old-timers back then used to tell me about ice fishing on parts of the river while they were at deer camp in November.

Not anymore, usually. While late November duck hunts are still an “iffy” proposition, more often than not it’s no problem to take a boat out through the month. This duck season will be the third where UP hunters have been able to hunt in December, due to a two-day split.

The ice has been coming later and later. The proposed zone changes will help die-hard waterfowl hunters take advantage of the warmer weather.

You have until Nov. 8 to tell the DNR what you think about the proposed zone changes. The Natural Resources Commission is scheduled to make a ruling early in 2020 and the changes would go into effect for five years starting with the 2021 hunting season.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Michigan – Tom Pink, Waterfowl

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