Wisconsin will have a 60-day duck season and an extended exterior zone Canada goose season of 92 days, under a waterfowl hunting season structure the state Natural Resources Board approved at its meeting today in Germantown.

“Despite this year’s unusual weather patterns Wisconsin waterfowl hunters can expect a good season,” said Kent Van Horn, DNR waterfowl ecologist.

Southern Wisconsin wetlands were dry during the summer but this has resulted in good growth of plants that produce duck food so if rains return before fall, the ducks will have an excellent dinner table set for them, Van Horn said.

“Most of the waterfowl season dates for 2012 are the same as 2011 adjusted for the calendar shift. One important change proposed by duck hunters during the public involvement process was a Monday through Friday closure to the duck and goose seasons from November 5 through 9 in order to extend the end of the north zone duck season for late season hunting to November 25,” Van Horn said. “According to harvest data about 90 percent of the duck harvest in the north zone is over by November 1, so the remaining hunters are those that are very passionate about duck hunting and this change came from those hunters. Some hunters will be excited about this change while others have concerns over the closed days in early November. We will see how this season goes and we can decide next year if the hunters would like to continue with this change.”

As is the case every season, Van Horn said, successful hunters will usually be those who log the most preseason hours scouting out-of-the way potholes and waterfowl habitat, looking for new hunting opportunities away from crowds and hunting pressure. A duck hunter’s fall hunting success depends mostly upon scouting, fall water conditions and weather patterns.

“Thanks to all the folks who took time to come to our public meetings or send us their comments and participate in this season setting process,” adds Van Horn. “Waterfowl hunting is a blend of traditions, friendships and memorable days on the marsh. We wish you a successful hunt and leave you with a reminder to be safe out there in everything you do.”

The season structure includes:

  • Early September Canada goose season– Sept. 1-15.
    • Daily bag of five geese
    • Youth Waterfowl Hunt – Sept. 15-16.
    • Daily bag is the same as the normal season bag. Youth participants who may hunt geese should note that Sept. 15 is part of the early goose season (early season permit required, 5 bird daily bag), while the Sept. 16 falls during the regular goose season (exterior or Horicon permit required, two bird daily bag).
    • Ducks (Note: opening day shooting hours begin at 9 a.m.)
      • Northern Zone season Sept. 22-Nov. 4 and Nov. 10-25.
      • Southern Zone season is Sept. 29-Oct. 7 and Oct. 13-Dec. 2.
      • Mississippi River Subzone season is Sept. 22-30 and Oct. 13-Dec. 2.

Duck bag for all seasons:

    • Daily bag of six ducks total which may include no more than:
      • four mallards of which only 1 may be a hen
      • three wood ducks
      • one black duck
      • two redheads
      • four scaup
      • two pintail
      • one canvasback
    • For species of duck not listed such as teal and ring-necks, the combined bag total with all other species may not exceed six ducks.
  • Coot:
    • Daily bag of 15

“Overall, the status of duck and goose populations is good to excellent in 2012,” said Van Horn. Water conditions were far drier across the prairies than in 2011 but they are still near average for 2012. This good news resulted in the same liberal duck regulations we enjoyed in 2011 being offered again in 2012 with an increase in the daily bag limit for scaup from 2 to 4 ducks per day. Spring duck counts in Wisconsin were about average with variable breeding habitat (south dry, north wetter). Obviously, this dry summer has not aided our local duck production and the fall duck hunting success will depend, in part, on significant rainfall between now and then.”

Canada geese

  • Exterior Zone:
    • North Sept. 16-Nov. 4 and Nov. 10-Dec. 21.
    • South Sept. 16-Oct. 7 and Oct. 13-Dec. 21.
    • Mississippi River Subzone Sept. 22-30 and Oct. 13-Jan. 3.
  • Canada goose bag for exterior zone seasons:
    • Daily bag of two.
  • Horicon Zone:
    • H1 Sept. 16-Oct. 28.
    • H2 Oct. 29-Dec. 16.
  • Canada goose bag for Horicon zone:
    • Daily bag of two with six tags per hunter.

“The major Canada goose regulatory change for this season is that we were able to increase the length of the Exterior Canada goose season from 85 days to 92 days as a result of a flyway evaluation of the impacts of the stable hunting seasons over the last 5 years,” said Van Horn.

“These days will be added in December which will offer late season Canada goose hunters additional opportunity. Based on our previous harvest patterns this will result in a relatively small additional harvest as most harvest occurs in September and October. This will bring Wisconsin to a total of 107 days of Canada goose hunting statewide which is the maximum allowed by international treaty.”

Light geese, brant and white-fronted geese

  • Light geese (snow, blue and Ross) and brant:
    • Seasons are the same as for the Canada goose zones and subzones.
    • Daily Bag Limit: one brant and 20 light geese.
  • White-fronted geese:
    • Exterior Zones (north and south) and Horicon:
      • North Sept. 20-Nov. 4 and Nov. 10-Dec. 21.
      • South Sept. 20-Oct. 7 and Oct. 13-Dec. 21.
    • Horicon:
      • Sept. 20-Dec. 16.
    • Mississippi River subzone:
      • Sept. 26-30 and Oct. 13-Jan. 3.
      • Daily Bag Limit: one white-fronted goose.

Logo courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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