Waterfowl seasons in southern lower Michigan and Ohio statewide open next month, each with 60-day duck seasons with six-duck daily bag limits and varying goose hunting seasons.
The Ohio duck and goose seasons open Oct. 20. The north zone duck season runs through Dec. 9 and resumes Dec. 22 through 30. The south zone season runs Oct. 20 through Nov. 4 and Dec. 15 through Jan. 27. A special youth waterfowl season is set for Oct. 6 and 7 for ages 15 and younger.
Michigan's south duck zone runs Oct. 6 through Dec. 2 and Jan. 5 and 6. The middle zone, basically covering the northern Lower Peninsula, is set for Sept. 29 through Nov. 25 and Dec. 1 and 2. The north zone is set for Sept. 29 through Nov. 27.
The daily bag in both states will be six ducks, including no more than four mallards, of which just one may be a hen - two wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck, one pintail, two scaup and two canvasbacks. Ohio hunters also may include up to three mottled ducks in their daily bag, though this is a southern species not normally seen here.
Both states also allow five mergansers daily, including two hooded in Michigan and just one hooded in Ohio.
The annual North American comprehensive waterfowl survey, posted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, set the annual duck index at 41 million birds among 10 key species. That is up 14 percent from 2006 and 24 percent above the long-term average 1955-2006 and it translates into maximum amounts of days and ducks allowed in the bag.
It is the 11th consecutive year for a liberal federal framework, meaning a 60-day/six-duck season in the Mississippi Flyway, in which both Ohio and Michigan are included.
As always, veteran observers note that the quality of the season in these latitudes in this flyway depend more on favorable - nasty - weather and sufficient harvested cropland for birds to glean, rather than on the actual continental duck picture. "That's a pretty fair picture - what the weather is at the time," said Mark Shieldcastle, Ohio's lead waterfowl biologist.
In Ohio's Lake Erie Canada goose zone, the season is set for Oct. 20 through Nov. 4 and Dec. 8 through 31. In the remainder of the north zone the goose season is set for Oct. 20 through Dec. 2 and Dec. 22 through Jan. 6. In the south zone the goose season is set for Oct. 20 through Nov. 4 and Dec. 15 through Jan. 27.
The daily bag is two Canadas. Light geese (Ross' goose, snow goose, blue goose), have a daily bag limit of 10, and white-front geese and brant have a limit of two. Most of these latter species occur only occasionally and in small numbers in this region.
A late Canada goose season in a specially designated zone mainly in the Lake Erie zone east of Toledo to Cleveland and beyond, as in recent years, is planned for Jan. 12 to Feb. 2. A zone map and other season details can be seen on-line at wildohio.com, or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.
In Michigan, the Canada goose season opened Tuesday in the Upper Peninsula and continues through Nov. 1. In the Lower Peninsula the goose season is Oct. 6 through Nov. 12 and Nov. 22 through 28, while in the lower's Southern James Bay zone the season is Oct. 6 through 14 and Nov. 22 through Dec. 12.
Special season dates at four special goose management units are available on-line at www.michigan.gov/dnr. The state's late Canada goose season is Jan. 5 through Feb. 3 in the south zone.
The 25th annual Lake Erie Waterfowlers Festival is set for Sept. 29 and 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area and Crane Creek State Park, 13229 West State Rt. 2 in Ottawa County.
The festival is sponsored by the Lake Erie Waterfowlers in cooperation with the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
It features dog/retriever trials by the Lake Erie Hunting/Retrieving Club; a BB-gun shoot and a trapshoot by the Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association; a fishing pond by the Friends of Magee Marsh; decoy contest by Maumee Bay Carvers; waterfowl identification program by the Waterfowlers and regional and state duck and goose calling events by the Waterfowlers and Zink Calls.
A hayride through back areas of Magee and the adjoining Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge also is planned hourly.
A trading post and food service will be open throughout the festival.
For other details, call Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, 419-898-0960.