Contact(s): Taylor Finger migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841; Trenton Rohrer, DNR assistant migratory game bird ecologist, 608-261-6458
MADISON - The 2017 North Zone duck season opens Sept. 23, and above average breeding conditions and a relatively wet summer mean Wisconsin's waterfowl hunters can expect a good hunting forecast.
"Conditions were above average this spring, and the entire state has seen abundant rainfall for most of the summer, with it starting to dry out heading into early fall. Waterfowlers should have the potential for a good hunting season," said DNR migratory game bird ecologist Taylor Finger.
"Continental breeding surveys reported a near record numbers of ducks this spring - these surveys span 62 years. However, even with excellent continental breeding indications, local water levels and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall."
The 2017 North Zone duck season will run from Sept. 23 to Nov. 21 - opening day shooting hours will begin 30 minutes before sunrise. The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than:
Five mergansers may be harvested daily, of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers; 15 coot may be harvested daily. For 2017, the possession limit remains three times the daily bag limit.
Many of the ducks harvested in Wisconsin are produced from locally nesting ducks breeding in the state's wetlands. According to Finger; mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal and blue-winged teal are the four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin's fall hunting harvest.
"As always, hunters who take the time to scout for good wetland conditions and observe what areas birds are using will have more success," said Finger. "Hunter survey data in Wisconsin show that duck hunters who scouted three or more times harvested on average 3-4 times as many ducks per season, as those who did not scout."
Licenses and stamps required for duck hunting include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp, and a federal migratory bird stamp. The federal duck stamp costs $25.
The federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at DNR 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, 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 purchase their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.
For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "waterfowl."