Let's cut to the chase this week and get to the important details of the 2016 waterfowl hunting seasons.

Technically, they already started with early goose in mid-August, and now continue on with youth weekend, the resident opener and regular opener on three consecutive weekend.

Waterfowl Seasons

Biologists expect a fall duck flight from North Dakota that is similar to last year, based on observations from the annual mid-July waterfowl production survey. (Photo courtesy NDGF)​

The youth waterfowl weekend is Sept. 17 and 18, and needs no lengthy introductions. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents age 15 or younger can hunt ducks, coots, mergansers and geese statewide. Youth hunters must have the proper licenses, and a licensed adult of at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field.

Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 24 for ducks, geese, coots and mergansers. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota on Oct. 1. The season for swans opens Oct. 1 for both residents and nonresidents.

As far as limits this year, 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, hunters can take an additional two blue-winged teal from Sept. 24 through Oct. 9.

The daily limit structure is the same for the youth season, except no additional blue-winged teal are allowed.
  • The hunting season for Canada geese in the Missouri River zone will close Dec. 30, while the remainder of the state will close Dec. 22. The season for whitefronts closes Dec. 4, while the season on light geese is open through Jan. 1. Shooting hours for all geese are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Nov. 5. Beginning Nov. 6, 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. 23, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from Nov. 24 through the end of each season.
  • The bag limit for Canada geese during the regular season is eight, except in the Missouri River zone where the limit is five daily.
  • The daily limit on whitefronts is three, and light goose is 50.
For ducks and geese, the possession limit is three times the daily limit, except for light geese, for which there is no possession limit.

As far as what hunters will find for birds, biologists expect a fall duck flight from North Dakota that is similar to last year, based on observations from the annual mid-July waterfowl production survey.

This year's brood index came in at 3.89 broods per square mile, which is up 11 percent from last year.

Observers also count water areas during the summer survey, and this year's water index was 35 percent higher than last year, primarily because of abundant rains in many parts of North Dakota since late May,

Game and Fish biologists conduct a separate survey in September to assess wetland conditions heading into the waterfowl hunting seasons.

Mallards, gadwall and blue-winged teal are the top three duck species that nest in North Dakota, and together they accounted for nearly 80 percent of the broods observed in the summer survey. Mallard brood numbers were up about 15 percent from last year, gadwalls were up about 28 percent, and blue-winged teal broods were down about 5 percent.

Blue-winged teal are typically the most prevalent breeding duck in North Dakota.

One last parting note: above all rules and regulations, stay safe on the water, in the field and on the road.

Leier is a biologist for the Game and Fish Department