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Outdoors - Duck season has its limits

September 30, 2000

Outdoors - Duck season has its limits



By BILL ANDERSON


Both West Virginia and Maryland have released the final season dates for the 2000-2001 waterfowl seasons. The duck season dates and bag limits reflect the generally good reports from the major breeding areas. Hunters will also enjoy a long and liberal season and bag limits for taking resident Canada geese, which have reached the problem stage in many areas.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources estimates that the resident or non-migratory Canada goose population has now reached approximately 70,000. The Canada goose hunting segments in the western portions of the state are Nov. 15-24, Dec. 9-Jan. 13 and Jan. 15-Feb. 15.

The season for migratory Canada geese, called the Atlantic Population, will once again be closed this fall.

The Maryland duck season will be divided into three segments: Oct. 7-14, Nov. 3-24 and Dec. 13-Jan. 20. The general bag limit is five ducks which may include no more than four mallards (only two hens); three scaup, two woods ducks, two redheads, one pintail, one fulvous tree duck, one canvasback (during open season) and one black duck (during open season).

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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.

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