North Dakota Residents Open Waterfowl Season Sept. 27, Nonresidents Oct. 4

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North Dakota Residents Open Waterfowl Season Sept. 27, Nonresidents Oct. 4Dry conditions covering much of North Dakota have waterfowl biologists cautioning duck hunters to scout early to determine whether favorite marshes will be huntable this year.

Mike Szymanski, waterfowl biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said below average annual precipitation will affect areas available to hunt. “Much of the state was without significant snowfall last winter, and spring was very dry,” Szymanski said. “These conditions left habitats such that few ducks initiated nesting efforts early.”

While June rains didn’t necessarily improve wetland conditions, it did spark some late nesting by mallards, gadwall and some blue-winged teal. However, reproduction was spotty, as few ducks were produced in the western two-thirds of the state, with average production further east.

“We carried a relatively large breeding population from previous years, so it’s not to say that hunters won’t encounter ducks this fall,” Szymanski said, while noting breeding conditions in prairie Canada appear to be similar to those in North Dakota. “It’s just that a higher proportion than normal will be adult birds that are not as naïve to hunting pressure.”

While most of the state is drier than it was last year, the eastern third appears to have the most moisture. Biologists will conduct a fall wetland survey in mid-September to quantify wetland conditions across the state. 

Goose hunters can expect another good fall flight based on biologist observations. Resident Canada geese continue to be abundant across the state. However, Szymanski said a low nesting effort will result in fewer geese in the western portion of the state. “Dry conditions out west not only resulted in lower reproduction, but also more adult birds leaving the area to molt their flight feathers,” he added.

Reports from the Arctic indicate good weather conditions this summer. While biologists have not yet conducted reproduction surveys for Arctic nesting geese, conditions should result in a good fledging rate. “There certainly will be more young birds in the fall flight of light geese than last year, which was essentially a reproductive bust,” Szymanski said.

Opening day for North Dakota residents to hunt ducks, geese, coots and mergansers is Sept. 27. Nonresidents may begin waterfowl hunting in North Dakota Oct. 4.

Resident hunters must possess a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. In addition, hunters ages 16 and older must have a small game license and federal duck stamp.

Nonresidents must purchase a nonresident waterfowl license, including the general game and habitat license, and certificate. Hunters age 16 and older must possess a federal duck stamp. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. See the 2008 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide for details.

All migratory bird hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters who purchase a license through the state Game and Fish Department website (gf.nd.gov) or instant licensing telephone number (800-406-6409) can easily get HIP certified.

Otherwise, hunters must call 888-634-4798, or access the department’s website, and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required only once per year in each state that is hunted.

Hunters should refer to the waterfowl hunting guide for season regulations including licensing requirements, dates, bag limits, season zones and nonresident hunting zones.