Ohio hunters should experience good opportunities for success as they take to the field in search of waterfowl throughout the hunting seasons, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Waterfowl seasons stretch from October through January, allowing sportsmen and women to pursue many popular waterfowl species.
This positive outlook is based on findings by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biologists and detailed in the USFWS Status Report and Adaptive Harvest Management Report. The reports provide information from continental surveys and are available on the ODNR Division of Wildlife Waterfowl Hunting Resources page at www.wildohio.com.
Canada geese are the most harvested waterfowl in Ohio. The 78-day Canada goose season beginning in October allows hunters to harvest three geese daily. Ohio’s spring breeding population estimate was 147,500 geese, near the record high for the 20-plus years the survey has been conducted. Migrant interior goose populations (Canada’s Southern James Bay and the Mississippi Valley) had above normal gosling production, suggesting the Canada goose migration into Ohio this year could be above normal.
• Goose hunting in the Lake Erie Canada Goose Zone is Oct. 12-27 and Nov. 9-Jan. 9, 2014.
• Goose hunting in the North Zone is Oct. 19-Nov. 3 and Nov. 30-Jan. 30, 2014.
• Goose hunting in the South Zone is Oct. 19-Nov. 3 and Nov. 30-Jan. 30, 2014.
Ohio waterfowl hunters will also enjoy a 60-day duck hunting season beginning in October. The daily bag limit for ducks is six, which may not include more than four mallards (no more than one may be female), three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, three scaup, two canvasbacks, two pintails and one mottled duck. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for coots is 15.
• Duck hunting season in the Lake Erie Marsh Zone is Oct. 12-27 and Nov. 9-Dec. 22.
• Duck hunting season in the North Zone is Oct. 19-Nov. 3 and Nov. 30-Jan. 12, 2014.
• Duck hunting season in the South Zone is Oct. 19-Nov. 3 and Dec. 14-Jan. 26, 2014.
Possession limits for all migratory game birds increased this year to three times the daily bag limit after the second day. Additional details of waterfowl and all other hunting seasons can be found in the 2013-2014 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations and in Ohio Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Publication 5295.
Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification is required of all waterfowl hunters prior to hunting. Migratory game bird hunters must call 877-HIPOHIO (447-6446) and answer a few survey questions to complete the HIP certification requirement. Hunters will be provided a certification number to write on their Ohio hunting license once the survey has been completed.
Waterfowl hunters age 18 and older must also purchase an Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp, available at any hunting license agent or wildohio.com. In addition, all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older must possess a signed federal duck stamp, which can be purchased at most post offices, at duckstamp.com or usps.com. Shipping time is determined by the vendor for the federal duck stamp so hunters should plan ahead and order early if they are using the online method.
The success of Ohio waterfowl hunters depends on the weather and local habitat conditions as opposed to continental duck populations. Hunters are encouraged to spend time afield scouting and follow weather trends closely as north winds and severe weather to the north often trigger migrations.
Hunters can follow the waterfowl migration this year on wildohio.com. Data from biweekly waterfowl surveys will be updated throughout the season on the Waterfowl Hunting Resources page starting in the first week of October. Areas to be surveyed from the air will be expanded this year to include Mercer, Big Island, Mosquito Creek, Killbuck and Funk Bottoms wildlife areas, in addition to the Lake Erie Marshes.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.