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2003-2004 duck seasons remain liberal

Improved nesting conditions in the Canadian prairie haveenabled many duck species to make significant population gains.

JEFFERSON CITY--Duck and goose hunters will continue to enjoy long seasons and generous bag limits for the 2003-2004 hunting season. They will find restrictions on hunting pintails and canvasbacks, however.
Increased rain and snow in the prairie pothole region of south-central Canada helped mallards and most other duck species increase in numbers from last year. As a result, this year's seasons are similar to those that have been in effect since 1997, when growing waterfowl numbers prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to approve a 60-day duck season. That year, the Fish and Wildlife Service also approved bag limits that allowed hunters to take up to six ducks daily.

Missouri's 2003-2004 duck season will run for 60 days in each of the five management zones. In the North and Swan Lake zones the season will open Oct. 25 and run through Dec. 23. In the Middle and Southeast zones, opening and closing dates will be Nov. 1 and Dec. 30, and in the South Zone the season will run from Nov. 22 through Jan. 20.

The season on pintails and canvasbacks will be Oct. 25 through Nov. 23 in the North and Swan Lake Zones, Nov. 1 through Nov. 30 in the Middle and Southeast zones and Nov. 22 through Dec. 21 in the South Zone

The bag limit on ducks will continue at six daily and 12 in possession. As in recent years, hunters can take up to four mallards daily, including no more than two hens. The limit on pintails and canvasbacks is one each. The remainder of the bag limits can be filled out with other ducks. Bag limits for other ducks include three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck and one hooded merganser. The possession limit is twice the daily limit.

Youths will continue to have an opportunity to hunt ducks before adults hit the marshes, lakes and streams. The Youth Waterfowl Season will be Oct. 18 and 19 in the North and Swan Lake zones, Oct. 25 and 26 in the Middle and Southeast zones and Nov. 15 and 16 in the South Zone.

Participants in Youth Hunting Days must be age 15 or younger and must be accompanied by a licensed adult at least 18 years of age who will not be permitted to hunt ducks. Adults need not be licensed if the youth possesses a valid hunter education certificate card.

Coot season is concurrent with duck season in the respective zones, with a daily bag limit of 15 and possession limit of 30.

Shooting hours during the regular waterfowl season are one half hour before sunrise to sunset.

The season for white-fronted, blue, snow and Ross=s geese in the North and Swan Lake zones is Oct. 25 through Jan. 18. In the Middle, South and Southeast zones, it is Nov. 1 through Jan. 25.

Canada goose and brant season has three segments in the North Zone (except the Swan Lake Zone) - Sept. 27 through Oct. 12, Oct. 25 through Nov. 23 and Dec. 20 through Jan. 18. In the Swan Lake Zone, there are two segments, Oct. 25 through Nov. 30 and Dec. 20 through Jan. 18.

In the Middle Zone (except the Southeast Zone), Canada geese and brant may be hunted from Sept. 27 through Oct. 12, from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30 and from Dec. 27 through Jan. 25. In the South and Southeast zones, the season is Oct. 4 through Oct. 12 and Nov. 22 through Jan. 25.

The daily bag and possession limits include no more than 20 blue, snow or Ross=s geese daily (no possession limit) and two brant daily (four in possession) and two white fronted geese daily (four in possession).

In the North Zone (except Swan Lake Zone) and Middle Zone (except the Southeast Zone), the bag limit is three Canada geese daily (six in possession) during the Sept. 27 through Oct. 12 season; and two Canada geese daily (four in possession) thereafter. In the Swan Lake Zone, the bag limit is two Canada geese daily (four in possession).

In the Southeast Zone and South Zone, the bag limit is three Canada geese daily (six in possession) from Oct. 4 through Oct. 12 and two Canada geese daily (four in possession) thereafter.

Falconry season for ducks, coots and mergansers is Sept. 6 through Sept. 21 and Sept. 24 through Dec. 23 in the North Zone, Sept 6 through Sept. 21 and Oct. 1 through Dec. 30 in the Middle Zone and Sept. 6 through Sept. 21 and Oct. 22 through Jan. 20 in the South Zone. The daily bag and possession limits for falconers are three and six birds respectively, singly, or in the aggregate during both regular duck hunting season and extended falconry seasons.

Federal officials have extended the conservation order allowing harvest of blue, snow and Ross's geese under more permissive regulations. Persons who possess a valid migratory bird permit may chase, pursue and take blue, snow and Ross's geese from one half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset from Jan. 19 through April 30, 2004, in the North and Swan Lake zones and from Jan. 26 through April 30, 2004, in the Middle, South and Southeast zones. During the conservation order, hunters may use electronic calls and unplugged shotguns with no daily or possession limit.

- Jim Low -

 

 

 

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