Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Even with winds straight from the North Pole, 2015-2016 waterfowl seasons look promising
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The holiday commercials
already swamping our collective brains along with winds straight from the North
Pole remind us that short-sleeve weather is now months away. Winter is here.
don’t see these developments as bad news. They are getting their bags of decoys
out of storage, cleaning and oiling shotguns and practicing their calling.
Waterfowl season, for both ducks and geese, opens Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27.
across Kentucky is in good shape and the recent cold snap shouldn’t greatly
impact the upcoming opener. “It is dried out a little bit, we could use some
more rain, but everything still looks good,” said Rocky Pritchert, migratory
bird program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Pritchert said the
severe cold likely drove some of the early migrating ducks such as northern
pintails, gadwalls and ring-necked ducks further south. “When the weather
moderates, we’ll see some birds come back to Kentucky and those still here will
rearrange,” he said. “There are still plenty of birds in the state.”
reminded of some changes to waterfowl hunting regulations for the 2015-2016
waterfowl seasons. Canada goose hunters in the Northeastern Goose Zone now have
an additional 10 days to hunt with the season opening Dec. 20, 2014 and closing
Jan. 31, 2015.
hunting Kentucky River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Owen and Henry
counties, including the newly acquired Boone Tract, must cease hunting at 2
p.m. Hunters using the Powell’s Lake Unit of Sloughs WMA may now conduct
walk-in hunting during the upcoming waterfowl seasons.
continue to increase with excellent reproduction over the last year. The total
duck population numbers released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show a
record 49.2 million ducks, an 8 percent increase over last year and a 43
percent increase over the long term average from 1955 to 2013. Mallards again
are the most numerous duck species with 10.9 million birds in the population,
an increase of 5 percent from last year.
Farm ponds and
small lakes are great spots for early season duck hunting. These habitat types
don’t require a hunter own dozens of decoys, a boat or other expensive
equipment. A few decoys, a pile of brush to crouch behind and an affordable
pump shotgun put ducks in the bag.
A small pond of an
acre or less or a deep, slow pool of a creek often requires no decoy spread at
all. Hunters can find great shooting with the first arriving ducks in the
morning with not a decoy in sight.
Be sure and scout
potential waters for duck use before the season.
population of Canada goose is roughly 40,000 birds and along with an increasing
number of migrating birds should provide ample opportunity.
ideal weather for goose hunting is cold weather to the north of Kentucky with
weather here warm enough to keep water from freezing.
hunting, a good snow line that comes down and barely touches the Ohio River
tends to push a lot of geese down this way for a period of 10 to 14 days,” he
said. The general areas around power plants along the Ohio River are Canada
goose hunting hot spots.
Region of Kentucky offers productive hunting for Canada goose. “Most of our
Canada goose harvest comes from central Kentucky,” said John Brunjes, migratory
bird biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Field hunting is the best
hunting for Canada goose. Use field decoys, laydown blinds or dig a pit.”
Canada goose feed
in harvested crop fields. “You must scout,” Brunjes said. “Goose hunting is
about knowing where the birds are feeding. Put yourself where the birds want to
go. If you get there early before the birds, you’ll have good hunting. If you
get there after the birds, you won’t.”
You’ll need a
valid Kentucky hunting license, Kentucky migratory game bird-waterfowl permit
and a federal waterfowl permit, commonly called a duck stamp, for waterfowl
information on waterfowl hunting regulations, areas to hunt or other
information, consult a copy of the 2014-2015 Kentucky Hunting Guide for
Waterfowl, available free wherever hunting licenses are sold. You may print a
copy from the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov or request one by calling 1-800-858-1549.