FORT WAYNE – Good news for Indiana hunters: Its almost time to lock-and-load.
Proposed waterfowl hunting dates have been released by Indiana Department of Natural Resources, although the dates are not final until approved by the United State Fish and Wildlife Service in mid- to late September. Historically, that approval has usually been forthcoming.
With that in mind, the DNRs recommended dates for hunting ducks, coots and mergansers are:
North Zone: Oct. 19 to Dec. 8 and Dec. 21-29
Central Zone: Oct. 26 to Dec. 8 and Dec. 21 to Jan. 5
South Zone: Nov. 2-10 and Nov. 30 to Jan. 19
For Canada geese, white-fronted geese, and brant, the proposed dates are:
North Zone: Oct. 19 to Nov. 10, Nov. 28 to Jan. 5, and Jan. 18-29
Central Zone: Oct. 26 to Dec. 8, Dec. 21 to Jan. 5, and Jan. 18-31
South Zone: Nov. 2-12 and Nov. 30 to Jan. 31
For youth waterfowl season – open to youths 15 and younger and accompanied by an adult – the dates are:
North Zone: Oct. 12-13
Central Zone: Oct. 19-20
South Zone: Oct. 26-27
And the expanded falconry season for ducks, coots and mergansers covers the following dates:
North Zone: Sept. 27-30 and Feb. 14 to March 10
Central Zone: Oct. 19-25 and Feb. 17 to March 10
South Zone: Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 and Feb. 17 to March 10
The daily bag limit for ducks in all zones is six, of which no more than four can be mallards, three scaup, three wood ducks, two pintails, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one black duck, and one mottled duck. For coots, the daily limit is 15. For mergansers, the limit, separate from ducks, is five, of which no more than two can be hooded mergansers. Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.
There should be plenty of targets, according to the USFWS. Mallard breeding population estimates stand at 10.4 million, about the same as last year and 36 percent higher than the long-term average, with estimates of most species slightly below last years record-setting estimates. Total ducks, gadwalls, green- and blue-winged teal, shovelers, and redheads remain near record levels.
For Canada geese, the daily bag limit this year during the regular season is three, and the limit for white-fronted geese is two. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.
The proposed late season for hunting Canada geese is Feb. 1-15, in these counties: Adams, Allen, Boone, Clay, DeKalb, Elkhart, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Huntington, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaPorte, LaGrange, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Noble, Parke, St. Joseph, Shelby, Steuben, Starke, Sullivan, Vermillion, Vigo, Wells and Whitley.
A permit is no longer required to participate in this late season, and geese harvested during this season no longer need to be taken to a check station. The daily bag limit during this season is five Canada geese, with a possession limit of 15.
Migratory bird hunters must register for the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program and receive a HIP number. To register, call 1-866-671-4499 or go to dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/3567.htm.
For more information, contact Adam Phelps, DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, at 812-334-1137, or aphelps@dnr.IN.gov.