Black ducks will be legal during the second and third segments of the duck season. Canvasbacks will be legal during the third segment only. The DNR said they closed the black duck season in October to protect local, breeding black ducks from harvest pressure. Since 1983, Atlantic Flyway states have taken measures to reduce the black duck harvest by 25 percent.
Maryland waterfowl hunters are required to have a valid state license, state waterfowl stamp, HIP permit and federal waterfowl stamp (available at most post offices). Hunters also must use nontoxic shot such as steel, bismuth-tin, or tungsten-iron.
The West Virginia DNR has also released the final waterfowl season dates and bag limits for the 2000-01 season. Ducks hunters will enjoy a six-bird bag limit this season.
West Virginia will once again be divided into two zones for waterfowl hunting. Zone 2 consists of the higher elevation areas that typically have cold weather earlier in the year, so the season begins and ends earlier in this zone.
The early segment of the West Virginia duck season will be open Oct. 2-14 in both zones. This segment gives hunters the opportunity to hunt the many wood ducks that have nested in the region and to enjoy some of the best weather of the year.
The second segment of the ducks season varies by zone. In Zone 1, the second segment is Nov. 27-Jan. 20. In Zone 2, the second segment is Nov. 13-Jan 8.
The bag limit for ducks is as follows: Cannot exceed six ducks total and that total can include no more than one pintail, one canvasback, four oldsquaw, two scaup, one black duck, two wood ducks, two redheads or four mallards. No more than two of the mallards can be hens, so a legal bag could be two hens and two drakes, three drakes and one hen or four drake mallards.
The Canada goose season will also be by zone. In Zone 1 the season is Oct. 1-14 and Nov. 25-Jan. 3l. In Zone 2, the goose season is Oct. 2-28 and Dec. 9-Jan. 31.
The early segment of the duck season in both states will feature resident birds. The most common species will be mallards and wood ducks. The wood ducks will usually depart with the first hint of cold weather, so this gives you the opportunity to hunt them before they move on to warmer surroundings.
West Virginia waterfowl hunters are also required to follow some special regulations such as the purchase of a federal and state waterfowl stamp. You will also need a hunter HIP registration card, and you must use nontoxic shot to hunt waterfowl.
West Virginia is noted for its excellent hunting for forest wildlife like deer, turkeys and black bear. But there are very significant waterfowl hunting opportunities as well.
In fact, the chances are very good that all hunters in this area have some great duck and goose hunting possibilities within minutes of your home. Like any other hunting sport, your success will probably be directly related to the work that you are willing to put into the sport.
Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.