Texas waterfowl hunting outlook includes higher possession limit, duck count

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a 74-day waterfowl season in the Central Flyway, which includes Texas.
Texas duck, goose outlook shapes up good for 2013.

Texas will continue to see liberal hunting season dates and even more liberal bag limits under waterfowl frameworks issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The duck count remained well above the overall long-term average coming in at just less than 46 million birds during this year’s summer report. That 45.6 million number is 33 percent above the long-term average, but is actually less than last year’s record of 48.6 million ducks.

Population estimates for eight of the 10 surveyed duck species increased or were at similar levels to last year, according to the study.

With that in mind, the service is proposing a 74-day waterfowl season in the Central Flyway, which includes Texas. The frameworks include a full season on pintails with a two-bird daily bag limit nationwide and a full season on canvasbacks with a two-bird daily bag limit nationwide. The service also proposes to increase possession limits for ducks and geese to three times the daily bag limit. The current possession limit is two times the daily limit, which has caused issues for those who may hunt more than two consecutive days.

The proposed late season waterfowl frameworks will appear in a mid-August edition of the Federal Register for public comment.

States select their individual seasons from within the federal frameworks that establish the earliest beginning and latest ending dates and the maximum season length and bag limits.

Among the highlights for the Central Flyway, which includes Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming) are:

  • Ducks: Duck season frameworks are between Sept. 21 and Jan. 26. The daily bag limit is six ducks, with species and sex restrictions as follows: five mallards, no more than two of which may be females; three wood ducks, three scaup, two pintails, two redheads, two canvasbacks, and one mottled duck. Mottled ducks may not be harvested during the first five days after the beginning of the regular season in Texas. In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit a 97-day season is proposed and the last 23 days can start no earlier than Dec. 7. A 74-day season is proposed for the remainder of the Flyway.
  • Geese: States may select seasons between Sept. 21 and Feb. 16 for dark geese and between Sept. 21 and March 10 for light geese. East-tier states are able to select a 107-day season for Canada geese with a daily bag limit of eight. For white-fronted geese, east-tier states will be able to select either a 74-day season with a daily bag limit of two birds or an 88-day season with a daily bag limit of one. In the West-tier, states may select a 107-day dark goose season with a daily bag limit of five birds. In the western goose zone of Texas, the state could select a 95-day season with a daily bag limit of five dark geese (including no more than one white-fronted goose). For light geese, all states would be able to select a 107-day season with a daily limit of 50.
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Will Leschper is founder of The Texas Outdoor Digest. He has been recognized for Excellence in Craft by the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. He is Conservation Editor of Texas Fish & Game Magazine and is a regular contributor to the Journal of the Texas Trophy Hunters, in addition to writing for plenty of of now-defunct publications.

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