By Steve Weisman
Here it is in late August, and I am already looking forward to waterfowl season. I know you think I am crazy, but when you have a passion for something, I guess it’s kind of natural.
Seasons have been set and approved for 2017. All of these can be found on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. As in the past, there will be three zones: North, South and Missouri River. Shooting hours are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset except for the Special September Teal and Woodcock Season, which is sunrise to sunset.
Special September Teal Season
This will be the fourth year for this early teal-only season, which will run from September 2-10 in both the North and South zones and September 2-17 for the Missouri River Zone.
As mentioned earlier, shooting hours are sunrise to sunset. Daily limit is 6 with only blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal being legal.
First Duck and First Canada Goose Season
There will actually be two duck and goose seasons. The first is a shorter season. For ducks, the North Zone will be from September 23-October 1, the South Zone will be from September 30-October 4 and the Missouri River from October 7-October 8.
The Daily Bag limit is 6 ducks, including no more than 4 mallards (of which no more than 2 may be female), 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 3 scaup, 1 pintail, 2 black ducks, 2 canvasback and 1 mottled duck.
For Canada Geese, the North Zone will be September 23-October 8, the South Zone will be from September 30-October 8, while the Missouri River Zone is October 7-15.
The Daily Bag limit for dark geese (Canada geese, white-fronted geese, brant and any other geese that are not light geese) is 5 and may include no more than 2 Canada geese from September 23 through October 31 and no more than 3 Canada geese from November 1 through the end of the season.
Second Duck and Second Canada Goose Season
For the North Zone, the second duck season runs from October 14-December 3, while the South Zone runs from October 21-December 14 and the Missouri River Zone runs from October 21 through December 17.
For Canada Geese, the North Zone runs from October 14-January 1, while both the South Zone and Missouri River Zone runs from October 21-January 15.
Light Geese, which includes snow geese and Ross’ geese, the North Zone runs from September 23-October 8 reopening October 14 and running through January 10. The South Zone runs from September 30-October 8 and October 21-January 24, while the Missouri River Zone runs from October 7-15 and October 21-January 24.
The daily bag limit for light geese is 20.
A look toward 2018
In visiting with Orrin Jones, Waterfowl Research Biologist for the Iowa DNR, Iowa’s waterfowl hunters will get the chance to voice their opinion about the 2018 season. As mentioned earlier, 2017 is the fourth year of the Special September Teal Season and is in the final year under experimental status. As a result, decisions must be made about the future. According to Jones, “We can stay with the Special Teal Season, or we can do away with it and if we want to submit something like we had before with the special all-species duck season that lasted for five days.”
Jones noted that a lot of data has been collected over the past four years. “We have hunter surveys both prior to the Special September Teal Season and over the first three years of the special season. We also have results taken by DNR staff that monitored each hunting season. After the 2017 September teal season, we will look for an opportunity to share this information with hunters and to get further hunter input.”
From those meetings along with all of the other data collected over the past four years, the Iowa DNR will make its recommendation for 2018. Jones notes that this past four years have been part of a special/trial option. The decision needs to be made do we want to go back to what it was several years ago with a special mid-September five day all-species duck season, or stay with something like we have recently had.
Once the Iowa DNR develops a proposal, it will then take this to the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) in January. There will then be another period of time for the hunters to voice their opinions before the NRC makes its final decision and submits its recommendation to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service by April 30, 2018.
The good news is there are plenty of opportunities for Iowa’s duck hunters to make their voices heard. So, if you have strong feelings either way, plan to attend one of these public meetings or call/write your local waterfowl biologist. If we don’t take this opportunity to share, then we will have to take whatever season is approved. I hope this topic is important enough that we attend these meetings and let our voices be heard.