North Dakota’s 2015 Waterfowl Season Set

September 9, 2015 by  

One of the final pieces of North Dakota’s fall hunting picture is the setting of waterfowl season.

While the moose and elk season was set way back in March, followed by deer, pronghorn, small game and fall turkey, waterfowl must wait until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes the frameworks under which states can set their seasons, and those frameworks have not been available until about mid-August.

Waterfowl-Season-2015Frameworks include things like maximum season lengths for ducks and geese, earliest starting date, latest closing date, and daily bag limits. For instance, in the Central Flyway which includes North Dakota, the maximum duck season length (except for a special High Plains unit) is 74 days, with Sept. 26 the earliest start date and Jan. 31, 2016 the latest ending date.

With that considered, it was late August when North Dakota’s 2015 waterfowl season was set. A couple of noteworthy changes include daily bag limit increases for canvasbacks and white-fronted geese. The canvasback daily limit is two this year, up from one last year, and hunters can now take three whitefronts daily, up from two in previous years.

Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 26 for ducks, geese, coots and mergansers. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Oct. 3. The season for swans opens Oct. 3 for both residents and nonresidents.

Hunters may take six ducks per day with the following restrictions: five mallards of which two may be hens, three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two pintails and two canvasbacks. Similar to last year, an additional two blue-winged teal can be taken from Sept. 26 through Oct. 11. The daily limit of five mergansers may include no more than two hooded mergansers. For ducks and mergansers, the possession limit is three times the daily limit.

The hunting season for Canada geese in the Missouri River zone will close Jan. 1, 2016, while the remainder of the state will close Dec. 24. The season for whitefronts closes Dec. 6, while the season on light geese is open through Jan. 3, 2016. Shooting hours for all geese are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Oct. 31.

Beginning Nov. 1, shooting hours are extended until 2 p.m. each day. Extended shooting hours for all geese are permitted from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset on Saturdays and Wednesdays through Nov. 25, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from Nov. 28 through the end of each season.

The bag limit for Canada geese during the regular season is eight daily and 24 in possession, except in the Missouri River zone where the limit is five daily and 15 in possession.

The daily limit on whitefronts is three with nine in possession, and light goose is 50 daily, with no possession limit.
The special youth waterfowl hunting season is Sept. 19-20. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents 15 years of age or younger can hunt ducks, coots, mergansers and geese statewide. Youth hunters must have a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. A licensed adult of at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field.

All migratory bird hunters, including waterfowl, must register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting.

For 2016 hunting seasons, the Fish and Wildlife Service has already started a new process that will streamline its waterfowl season-setting so that states will get their frameworks much earlier than is currently the case, perhaps late May to mid-June instead of mid-August. That will allow the State Game and Fish Department to officially set the waterfowl seasons several weeks earlier than has been the case in the past.


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