News of the Week

Oct. 8, 2015
Youth-Only Waterfowl Hunting Weekends on Tap
   Extra waterfowl hunting opportunities for youths are available in each of Oklahoma's three waterfowl hunting zones during Youth Waterfowl Weekends, beginning this Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10-11, in the three Panhandle counties of Oklahoma.
   These special youth-only seasons provide two additional days outside of the regular waterfowl seasons for those who are 15 or younger to get involved in the sport.
   This year's Youth Waterfowl Weekends in each zone are:
  • Panhandle Zone: Oct. 10-11.
  • Zone 1 (northwestern Oklahoma): Oct. 24-25.
  • Zone 2 (southwestern and eastern Oklahoma): Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
   Youths hunting on the two-day Youth Waterfowl Weekends are permitted to harvest ducks, geese, mergansers and coots. Youths must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older who is hunter education-certified (unless exempt). The adult hunter may not hunt ducks, mergansers or coots, but may participate in other hunting seasons that are open on those days. All daily bag limits for youths hunting during Youth Waterfowl Weekends are the same as those for the regular waterfowl hunting seasons.
   The regular hunting season for ducks, mergansers and coots will open in the Panhandle Zone on Oct. 17, in Zone 1 on Oct. 31, and in Zone 2 on Nov. 7. Goose season will open statewide Oct. 31.
   Duck population numbers were strong this past breeding season, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2015 Waterfowl Population Status Report. The 2015 total duck population estimate was 49.5 million breeding birds, a 1 percent increase from last year's estimate of 49.2 million. The estimate is 43 percent higher than the long-term average from 1955-2014.
   Although these population estimates boost optimism for a good duck hunting season, where and when waterfowl will be encountered this year depend on many factors. Weather, food availability and water conditions influence local duck abundance, distribution, behavior and, ultimately, hunter success, the USFWS said.
   Each year, the USFWS proposes frameworks to states for structuring their waterfowl seasons, and Oklahoma's 74-day season and generous harvest limits create a liberal 2015 hunting season framework for hunters to enjoy.
   The daily limit of six ducks may include no more than five mallards (only two may be hens), three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two pintails and two canvasbacks. The daily limit of mergansers is five (only two may be hooded mergansers), and the daily limit of coots is 15.
   Duck hunting regulations and more information about hunting licenses, waterfowl stamps and permit requirements can be found in the current "Oklahoma Waterfowl" guide, available online at wildlifedepartment.com or at hundreds of locations statewide where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
 
Special Youth Waterfowl Weekends allow hunters younger than 15 to experience an early shot at duck season. For all the details, read the "Oklahoma Waterfowl" regulations guide online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold. (Jeff Neal/ODWC)