North Dakota’s 2012 waterfowl season has been set, with season details similar to last year. The only significant changes are the daily limit on scaup has increased from two to six, and a waterfowl rest area in Rolette County has been eliminated.
Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 22 for ducks, geese, coots and mergansers. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Sept. 29. The season for swans opens for both residents and nonresidents Sept. 29.
Mike Johnson, game management section leader for the State Game and Fish Department, said duck numbers look good this year.
“Overall waterfowl prospects are tough to predict,” Johnson said. “How the season progresses depends on weather conditions and migration patterns. We have high numbers of ducks in the state right now but it’s important to remember that one-third of these are blue-winged teal and many will leave before the season begins.”
Hunters may take six ducks per day with the following restrictions: five mallards of which two may be hens, three wood ducks, two redheads, two pintails and one canvasback. For ducks, the possession limit is twice the daily limit.
The daily limit of five mergansers may include no more than two hooded mergansers.
The waterfowl rest area four miles north of Rolette has been eliminated.
The hunting season for Canada geese in the Missouri River zone will close Dec. 28, while the remainder of the state will close Dec. 20. The season for whitefronts closes Dec. 2, while the season on light geese is open through Dec. 30. Shooting hours for all geese are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Nov. 3. Beginning Nov. 4, shooting hours are extended until 2 p.m. each day.
Extended shooting hours for all geese are permitted from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset on Saturdays and Wednesdays through Nov. 28, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from Dec. 1 through the end of each season.
The daily bag limit for Canada geese during the regular season is three, with six in possession. The daily limit on whitefronts is two with four in possession, and light goose is 20 daily, with no possession limit.
The special youth waterfowl hunting season is Sept. 15-16. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents 15 years of age or younger can hunt ducks, coots, mergansers and geese statewide. Youth hunters must have a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. A licensed adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field. The daily bag limit and species restrictions for the youth season are the same as for regular duck and goose seasons.
Nonresidents have the option of buying either a statewide waterfowl license or one with zone restrictions. Nonresidents who designate zones 1 or 2 may hunt that zone for only one seven-day period during the season. Nonresident hunters who chose to hunt in zone 1 or 2 and wish to use the full 14 consecutive days allowed, must use the other seven days in zone 3. Hunters in zone 3 can hunt that zone the entire 14 days.
In accordance with state law, nonresidents are not allowed to hunt on North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas from Oct. 13-19.
All migratory bird hunters, including waterfowl, must register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters purchasing a license from the Game and Fish Department can easily get a HIP number. Otherwise, hunters must call (888) 634-4798, or log on to the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, provide the registration information, and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Those who HIP registered to hunt this spring’s light goose season do not have to register again, as it is required only once per year.
Hunters should refer to the 2012 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide, available in early September, for further details on the waterfowl season.