Waterfowl hunters will likely see plenty of ducks migrating through the Pacific Northwest flyway when a liberal 107-day hunting season gets started this fall and winter.
State Fish and Wildlife set a hunting season — very similar to last year — that will begin Oct. 11-15, and continue from Oct. 18-Jan. 25. There will also be a special youth hunt from Sept. 20-21.
“It should be pretty good hunting for ducks, and the western breeding grounds in Alaska, northern Alberta and Canada had good numbers of birds,” said Don Kraege, a state Fish and Wildlife waterfowl manager. “We had big increases of mallards in all areas important to our state’s hunting grounds.”
The northern Alberta mallard production was up 72 percent, and the Alaska Yukon region production was up 50 percent.
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report for North American breeding ducks showed a record population of 49.2 million, and beats the previous high of 48.6 million set in 2012 and is 8 percent ahead of the 2013 estimate.
The daily bag limit is seven ducks, and not more than two hen mallard, two pintail, three scaup, two redhead, two goldeneye, one harlequin, two scoter and two long-tailed duck. The canvasback bag limit was reduced to one daily due to a decrease in population.
Goose hunting seasons will vary depending on the game management area, and many will open for hunting Oct. 11 and end on Jan. 25. The daily limit for most geese is four, but the daily bag limit for cackling geese increased in southwest Washington from three to four.
The overall hunting harvest quota for dusky Canada geese in southwest Washington is up from 45 to 85 birds. As in past seasons, hunters are limited to one dusky Canada goose a season in southwest Washington.
Last year, waterfowl hunters found the season from October through late January very challenging, mostly due to weather that wasn’t conducive to success.
Kraege pointed out that mild and stable weather conditions with an extended high-pressure system in place for most of November and December ruined hunter success, down 20 percent from previous years.
The average harvest during the 2009-2013 seasons was 113,465 ducks and 10,082 geese in Island, King, San Juan, Skagit (47,543 ducks), Snohomish (26,384) and Whatcom (24,879) counties. The statewide harvest was 434.439 ducks and 64,349 geese.
One exception to the good news is brant had low production due to a snowpack that covered much of the breeding grounds this past spring. The Skagit County hunting dates are Jan. 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 21, and 24-25, but will need final approval after midwinter surveys.
The statewide coot and snipe hunting season is Oct. 11-15 and Oct. 18-Jan. 25. The early Canada goose season begins Sept. 10-15 in game management areas 1, 2A and 3, Sept. 1-15 in 2B, and Sept. 13-14 in 4 and 5. The statewide band-tailed pigeon season is Sept. 15-23, and mourning dove season is Sept. 1-30.
The waterfowl hunting pamphlet is online, and the hard copies should be ready by the end of this month.