Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said waterfowl numbers “look very good” this year, although slightly down from the last two record-setting production years. In addition, improved habitat conditions over much of the state as a result of drought relief should have a positive impact on duck hunting.
“To our benefit, water conditions across most of the state have improved, and recent rains and forecasts of more to come continue to bode well,” Richardson said. “This year it should be a little easier, as water levels have climbed back up to the vegetation level. Or, in areas still lagging behind on rainfall, the vegetation level has encroached out to the water level, providing better cover to hunt from.”
Richardson added that field hunters should find corn and soybean crops and new wheat crops that benefited from recent rains as well.
With over 1 million acres of surface water and a spot right in line with the Central Flyway, Oklahoma hunters who invest some time and effort into duck hunting generally have successful seasons. Except for a small split in the Zone 1 and 2 seasons that runs Dec. 1-14, Oklahoma sportsmen can hunt ducks for the rest of the year and into 2014. Full season dates, details and regulations can be found in the current “Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide,” available free online at wildlifedepartment.com and in print where hunting licenses are sold.
“As always, hunters should check the regulations to see what has changed from previous years,” Richardson said. “This year the canvasback limit has increased to two birds per day, while Canada geese have increased to eight birds per day and light geese increased to 50 birds per day. Scaup limits were reduced this year to three birds per day.”
Duck seasons are generous, with opportunities to hunt a variety of duck species that spend time in Oklahoma during their annual southward migrations from their northern breeding grounds. Every summer the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes frameworks to states for structuring their migratory bird hunting seasons. The Service publishes the federal hunting season frameworks for these species after their meetings, and state wildlife agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation can then make their season selections within the federal framework guidelines.