Let’s Look At Ducks For The North Dakota Opener

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s May and July waterfowl surveys indicate hunters can expect another large fall flight. Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 22 for ducks, coots, mergansers and geese. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Sept. 29.

Mike Johnson, game management section leader, said North Dakota’s fall flight – breeding ducks and the young they produce in the state – is based on data from the May breeding duck survey and the July brood survey. “This year’s production was up from last year, and there are strong indications for a good fall flight this year,” Johnson said. “However, late summer has been dry and hunters should scout their favorite areas to check water conditions prior to the opener.”

The brood index from the Game and Fish Department’s annual mid-July survey was up 110 percent from 2011 and exceeded the long-term average by 155 percent. Average brood size was 6.9 ducklings, down 0.8 from last year. The long term average is 7.1 ducklings per brood. The water index observed during the survey was down 48 percent from last year, but still 10 percent above long-term.

Results from the May breeding duck survey indicated the duck index was up 16 percent from 2011 and exceeded the long-term average by 112 percent. Water conditions in May were down 57 percent from 2011 and 6 percent from the long-term average.

Resident hunters must possess a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. In addition, hunters age 16 and older must have a small game license and federal duck stamp.

Nonresidents must purchase a nonresident waterfowl license, including the general game and habitat license, and certificate. Hunters age 16 and older must possess a federal duck stamp. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents, qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. See the 2012 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide for details.

All migratory bird hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters who purchase a license through the state Game and Fish Department website (gf.nd.gov) or instant licensing telephone number (800-406-6409) can easily get HIP certified.

Otherwise, hunters must call (888) 634-4798, or access the department’s website, and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose season or the early Canada goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required only once per year in each state hunted.

Hunters should refer to the waterfowl hunting guide for season regulations including licensing requirements, dates, bag limits, season zones and nonresident hunting zones.