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MADISON – Hunters looking forward to the opening of Wisconsin’s 2013 duck season in the North and the Mississippi River zones on Sept. 21 should find good numbers of ducks, according to Department of Natural Resources officials.
“Although a few areas have been seeing lowering water levels, Wisconsin waterfowl hunters should have a good season,” said Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. “Continental breeding surveys that have been ongoing for 58 years reported near record numbers of ducks this spring. However, even with excellent continental breeding indications, local water levels and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall.”
Many of the ducks harvested in Wisconsin come from birds that breed in the state’s wetlands. The four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin’s fall hunting harvest are mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal, and blue-winged teal, Van Horn said.
As hunters prepare for the season opener there are some important regulation details and changes that should be noted, said Van Horn.
The daily bag limit is six ducks in total, not to include more than four mallards of which only one may be a hen, three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, three scaup, two pintail, and two canvasback.
Two important changes to the daily bag limits, which were made in response to annual population estimates, are a decrease in the daily bag limit for scaup from four to three and an increase in the daily bag limit for canvasback from one to two. The possession limit has also been increased from two times the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit across the country.
The duck hunt in the northern zone opens at 9 a.m. on Sept. 21, and continues through Nov. 19.
The Mississippi river zone also opens at 9 a.m. on Sept. 21 and runs through Sept. 29, followed by a 12-day split, reopening on Oct. 12 and running until Dec. 1. After opening day in each respective zone, hunting hours begin 30 minutes before sunrise. The southern zone duck season will open the following week at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28, run through Oct. 6, then close and reopen Oct. 12 through Dec. 1.
“Because of a shifting federal regulatory calendar these opening days are the earliest possible date so there may be more than the usual number of other recreational users out on the water for opening day of duck season,” advised Van Horn. “All lake users should respect others on the waterways. Wisconsin’s waters offer a multitude of opportunities, and successful sharing of these areas requires cooperation and compromise from each and every person.”
Open Water duck hunting
Beginning in 2013, an additional 10 large lakes will be available for open water duck hunting.
“In Wisconsin, we have had a long-standing practice of leaving the open water areas of lakes as a resting area for ducks, while hunting the edges and emergent vegetation of water bodies,” said Van Horn. “However, some duck hunters desire to hunt with different methods for the deeper-feeding diving ducks found in open water areas.”
For many years, open water duck hunting has been allowed on the Great Lakes, Lake Winnebago, Big Green Lake and Petenwell Flowage as well as portions of the Mississippi River. Several years ago, a citizen resolution requested an expansion of this opportunity to other lakes.
After years of discussion and cooperation among duck hunters, biologists, wardens and lake residents through committees and public meetings, the additional 10 lakes will be open for open water duck hunting this fall, said Van Horn.
Hunters taking advantage of this new opportunity are reminded to stay 1,000 feet from shore and remain securely anchored, which is consistent with regulations for open water hunting on existing lakes.
The additional lakes include:
• Beaver Dam Lake (excluding Rakes and Trestle Works bays), Dodge County
• Castle Rock Lake (south of railroad bridge and County G), Adams and Juneau counties
• Fence Lake, Vilas County
• Grindstone Lake, Sawyer County
• North Twin Lake, Vilas County
• Lake Puckaway (the waters west of the west end of the dredge bank, excluding the waters east of the west end of the dredge bank), Marquette and Green Lake counties
• Shawano Lake, Shawano County
• Trout Lake, Vilas County
• Lake Wisconsin (north of railroad bridge), Sauk and Columbia counties
• Lake Wissota (south of County S and north of County X), Chippewa County
“As always, waterfowl hunters who are out before the season opener scouting for good wetland conditions and observing what areas birds are using will be the ones having a more successful hunt,” said Van Horn.
Required licenses and stamps include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp and a federal migratory bird stamp. The $15 federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at license vendors for an additional $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp itself will arrive weeks later in the mail.
Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchases their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.
State licenses and stamps, permits, and HIP registration are also available at authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service cethrough Wisconsin’s and throught the DNR Online Licensing Center.
Additional information on waterfowl and waterfowl hunting is available by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword “waterfowl.”