The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced recently that the agency is proposing a continued liberal hunting season for the upcoming 2013 and 2014 waterfowl seasons. According to a survey taken by USFWS, in its "Trends in Duck Breeding Populations" report, duck numbers remain strong for 2013. Although the report does show that the number of breeding ducks declined by 6 percent from 2012, overall duck numbers remain well above the historical average. The USFWS estimates there to be 45.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed areas of North America, almost 33 percent higher than the decades-long average of 34.3 million. Experts are anticipating a favorable hunting season, but local local environmental conditions can make or break a duck season.
"Given favorable numbers, most folks would speculate that the fall certainly seems favorable," said Ducks Unlimited Chief Scientist Dale Humburg. "...With the hunting season a few months off, a lot can happen in regards to your local hunting opportunity. Whether not the weather is dry or when you go hunting can all play into it."
Habitat conditions improved slightly over last year, or at least stayed relatively similar. Late spring rains were highly beneficial to the nation's wetlands and the USFWS is now estimating pond numbers in the U.S. to be 41 percent higher than 2012. Duck and geese possession limits may reach three times the daily bag limit under the proposal. It was previously two times the daily bag limit.
Information on individual states from the Mississippi Flyway can be seen below, courtesy the USFWS.
Mississippi Flyway (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin):
- Ducks: A hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days between Sept. 21, 2013, and Jan. 26, 2014. The proposed daily bag limit is 6 and may include no more than 4 mallards (2 hens), 3 wood ducks, 1 mottled duck, 2 redheads, 3 scaup, 2 pintails, 1 black duck, and 2 canvasbacks. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is 5, only 2 of which may be hooded mergansers. In states that include mergansers in the duck bag limit, the daily limit is the same as the duck bag limit, only 2 which may be hooded mergansers.
- Geese: Generally, seasons for Canada goose would be held between Sept. 21, 2013, and Jan. 31, 2014, and vary in length among states and areas. States would be able to select seasons for light geese not to exceed 107 days with 20 geese daily between Sept. 21, 2013, and March 10, 2014; for white-fronted goose the proposed season would not exceed 74 days with a 2-bird daily bag limit or 88 days with a 1-bird daily bag limit between Sept. 21, 2013, and Feb. 16, 2014; and for brant it would not exceed 70 days with a 2-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a 1 bird daily bag limit between Sept. 21, 2013, and Jan. 31, 2013.
Many states are also adopting the 6 bird limit for the early teal season. Check state regulations before hunting.