Leier: Ducks up, while deer, pheasants down
Many hunters these days are bemoaning a downward population trend for deer and pheasants in North Dakota. On the other hand, for 2013 at least, duck and goose populations are in good shape and can provide opportunities that hunters may not want to overlook.
Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 21 for ducks, geese, coots and mergansers. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Sept. 28. The season for swans opens Sept. 28 for both residents and nonresidents. Here's a rundown of the 2013 nuts and bolts:
- Hunters may take six ducks per day with the following restrictions: five mallards of which two may be hens, three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two pintails and two canvasbacks. The daily limit of five mergansers may include no more than two hooded mergansers. For ducks and mergansers, the possession limit is three times the daily limit.
- The hunting season for Canada geese in the Missouri River zone will close Dec. 27, while the remainder of the state will close Dec. 21. The season for whitefronts closes Dec. 1, while the season on light geese is open through Dec. 29. Shooting hours for all geese are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Nov. 2. Beginning Nov. 3, shooting hours are extended until 2 p.m. each day.
- Extended shooting hours for all geese are permitted from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset on Saturdays and Wednesdays through Nov. 27, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from Nov. 30 through the end of each season.
- The bag limit for Canada geese during the regular season is eight daily and 24 in possession, except in the Missouri River zone where the limit is five daily and 15 in possession.
- The daily limit on whitefronts is two with six in possession, and light goose is 50 daily, with no possession limit.
- Nonresidents have the option of buying either a statewide waterfowl license or one with zone restrictions. Nonresidents who designate zones 1 or 2 may hunt that zone for only one seven-day period during the season. Nonresident hunters who chose to hunt in zone 1 or 2 and wish to use the full 14 consecutive days allowed, must use the other seven days in zone 3. Hunters in zone 3 can hunt that zone the entire 14 days.
V State law doesn't allow nonresidents to hunt on North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas from Oct. 12-18.
I should also point out that all migratory bird hunters, including waterfowl, must register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters purchasing a license from the Game and Fish Department can easily get a HIP number. Otherwise, hunters must call 888-634-4798, or log on to the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, provide the registration information, and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate.
Those who HIP registered to hunt this spring's light goose season or early fall Canada goose season do not have to register again, as it is required only once per year.
If you haven't hunted waterfowl in years, now just might be a good time to get back in.
Leier is a biologist for the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email:email@example.com. His blog is at dougleier.areavoices.com