Waterfowl season dates set by ODNR
The 2012–13 waterfowl hunting season dates have been approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
The Lake Erie Marsh Zone encompasses portions of Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky and Erie counties. The duck hunting season in the Lake Erie Marsh Zone is Oct. 13–28 followed by a second segment that opens Nov. 10-Dec. 23. The duck hunting season in the North Zone is Oct. 13–28, followed by a second segment that opens Nov. 24 and runs through Jan. 6, 2013. In the South Zone, duck season is open Oct. 20–28, followed by a second segment that opens Dec. 8 and runs through Jan. 27, 2013.
The daily bag limit for ducks is six, which may not include more than four mallards (no more than one may be female), three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, four scaup, one canvasback, two pintails and one mottled duck. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. Possession limits after the first day are twice the daily bag limit.
In the Lake Erie Canada Goose Zone, the goose season is Oct. 13–28 followed by a second segment that opens Nov. 10 and runs through Jan. 10, 2013. The goose season for the remainder of the North Zone is Oct. 13–28, with a second segment that runs from Nov. 24 through Jan. 6, 2013, and a third segment from Jan. 12–29, 2013. In the South Zone, goose season is Oct. 20-Nov. 11 followed by a second segment that opens Dec. 8 and runs through Jan. 31, 2013.
The daily bag limit for Canada geese is three, raised from two. Light geese (snows, Ross’ and blues) have a daily bag limit of 10, white-fronted geese have a daily bag limit of one and brant have a daily bag limit of one. The possession limit for brant and geese is twice the daily bag limit after the first day.
Hunters 15 years of age and younger will have the opportunity to enjoy special statewide youth waterfowl seasons. Young hunters in the Lake Erie Marsh Zone and North Zone can hunt Sept. 29–30. The dates for South Zone youth hunters are Nov. 23–24.
Licensed falconers can hunt ducks, geese, mergansers and coots statewide from Feb. 8, 2013, through March 10, 2013, in the Lake Erie Marsh, North and South Zones whenever those zones are open to duck hunting.
Harvest Information Program certification is required of all waterfowl hunters prior to hunting. Migratory game bird hunters must call 877-HIPOHIO (447‑6446) and answer a few survey questions to complete the HIP certification requirement. Once the survey has been completed, hunters will be provided a certification number to write on their Ohio hunting license.
Waterfowl hunters age 18 and older will also need a state wetland habitat stamp which may be purchased at any hunting license agent or at wildohio.com. In addition, all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older must possess a signed federal duck stamp which can be purchased at most post offices.
Copies of this season’s waterfowl hunting regulations, which include maps of the zones (Publication 5295, Waterfowl Hunting Seasons), will be available online at wildohio.com or available at all license agent outlets by late September.
• Due to a marina construction project, coupled with the drier than normal conditions this year, duck hunting opportunities at Delaware Wildlife Area and Delaware State Park may be diminished this fall and winter, according to the ODNR.
To facilitate boat ramp repairs at the Delaware marina, Delaware Reservoir will begin its annual winter drawdown on Sept. 10 instead of the normal Oct. 1 date. Additionally, the lake is being drawn down more than normal in order to relieve stresses placed on the drinking water system by these drier than normal conditions.
Due to low lake levels, Delaware Wildlife Area will be unable to pump water from Delaware Reservoir to fill their marshes for early duck season. These pumped marshes provide an ideal habitat for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Waterfowlers and bird watchers that utilize this area may see fewer birds and species this season.
All boat ramps are expected to remain inaccessible throughout the duck hunting season, including the ramp within the Delaware Wildlife Area. Duck blinds will only be accessible by foot or watercraft launched by hand.
• Ohio’s squirrel season will open on Sept. 1 and provide hunters with an opportunity to take as many as six squirrels each day, according to the Division of Wildlife.
Ohio’s squirrel season, a long-time tradition for many hunters, offers ample hunting opportunities for fox and gray squirrels across the state. This is an excellent time to take a youth hunting or scout for the upcoming deer and fall wild turkey hunting seasons. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily.
Squirrel season will be closed during the one-week statewide deer gun season, Nov. 26-Dec. 2.
The abundance of nut crops is a good indicator of squirrel numbers the following year. Statewide nut production ratings for fall 2011 were lower in comparison to those from 2010. However, the predicted squirrel hunting outlook for the 2012–13 season is again above average. Although oak production was average, substantial increases in walnut production occurred throughout the state during fall 2011. Increased food supply in concert with an exceptionally mild winter should lead to high squirrel densities and increased hunting opportunities this fall.
Primary fox squirrel range occurs predominately in the agricultural landscapes in the northeastern and western regions of Ohio, whereas the primary gray squirrel range is in the extensively forested east-central, southeastern and south-central regions. Gray squirrels are more dependent on hard mast, and their abundance is closely tied to the mast crop the previous fall. Fox squirrels are less dependent upon mast crop resources and likely use supplemental food in agricultural areas.
Hunters who wish to participate in the Squirrel Hunting Diary Program, designed to track trends in nut crops and squirrel populations across the Buckeye State, should contact the Waterloo Wildlife Research Station, 360 East State St., Athens, Ohio 45701, at 740–589-9930 for more information.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!