The 2012-2013 Migratory waterfowl Seasons and regulations have been set for the coming year with some significant changes in the HIP reporting process. It is important to remember that your federal stamp ended in June so you need a new one. Your state stamp goes from Jan-Dec. Lord knows they couldn’t have the same dates!
HIP: As in the past, hunters planning to hunt woodcock, snipe, ducks and geese must register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) by taking a HIP survey. NEW THIS YEAR: HIP surveys can only be completed through the new MassFishHunt system. HIP numbers will no longer be issued and the HIP survey is not available by telephone. Non-resident hunters are reminded they must register for the Massachusetts HIP system in order to hunt migratory game birds in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts HIP registration is valid for the calendar year only.
To see if you are already registered with HIP, you can: 1) Check your hunting/sporting license in the Item Purchased section. If you see a line item that reads: “Waterfowl Stamp” or “HIP Survey Completed”, you have already completed the process; or 2) Log on to the MassFishHunt website and check your customer inventory. If you don’t see “Waterfowl Stamp” or “HIP Survey Completed”, you can purchase the state waterfowl stamp or complete the HIP survey through your home computer or at a local license vendor.
Hunters obtaining a state waterfowl stamp automatically complete the HIP survey during the stamp purchase process. Waterfowl hunters who purchased a state waterfowl stamp to hunt in January and February of 2012 are already registered for the entire calendar year and do not need to do anything in the fall. Migratory game bird hunters who only hunt woodcock, snipe, or rails must complete a HIP survey as a separate step during or after their hunting/sporting license purchase either at their home (or public library) computer or through a sporting license vendor or DFW office.
Purchasing a Waterfowl Stamp (For Duck and Goose Hunting) From a Home Computer or a Local Library Computer -- Go to the MassFishHunt website at www.mass.gov/massfishhunt and enter your Customer ID number. A page with your personal information will appear. Click on the blue “Enter Sales” button at the bottom right of your screen. Click on “Hunting Permits and Stamps” in the menu at the left side of your screen. Click on “Waterfowl Stamp”. A screen with eight questions will appear. Answer the questions, then click on the “Accept” button in the lower left corner. Click the blue “check out” button on this screen and then click : “Check out” again on the next screen. You must proceed all the way through checkout to pay for the stamp. Note: If you already purchased a waterfowl stamp you will not see the waterfowl stamp option listed.
Purchasing a Waterfowl Stamp at a License Vendor Or MassWildlife Office -- Tell the clerk that you want to purchase a state waterfowl stamp. They will need either your customer identification number or your birth date to look up your information. They will ask you the questions for HIP registration and print out the license which indicates your stamp purchase.
Seasons: The early goose season runs from Sept. 4-25 with a 7 birds per day limit. The regular coastal goose season will be split and go from Oct. 13-Oct. 20 and Nov. 21-Jan. 21 with a daily limit of 2 birds. The late goose season will run from Jan. 17- Feb. 15 with a limit of 5 birds.
Woodcock season will open on Oct. 3 and close on Nov. 17 with a 3 bird limit.
Sea ducks Will run from Oct. 8-Jan. 31 with a limit of 7 birds a day with no more than 4 scoter, 4 eider with only 1 hen, and 4 oldsquaw in the bag.
The duck season for coastal is split this year with the first session from Oct 13- Oct. 20 and the second from Nov. 21-Jan. 21. The bag limit will be 6 birds of which there can be only 1 Black, 4 Mallards of which only 2 can be females, 3 Wood Duck, 1 Canvasback, 2 Hooded Mergansers, 1 Pintail, 2 Redhead, 4 Scaup, 1 Mottled, and 1 Fulvous Whistling duck.
Predictions: According to the reports from various federal and state agencies, this season should be a good one for waterfowl hunters. In Quebec, which is a breeding ground for many of the ducks that pass through the North Shore, there was an early April thaw which made for good nesting. The summer was fairly warm so the brood production should be good.
The Atlantic Canada provinces were fairly warm and dry to start with. The rains of late April and early May brought the reservoirs up so that the brood success there should be fairly good as well. Geese continue to be a major problem in that their numbers are so high. Of course on the North Shore the problem continues to be access for hunters. There is so much land that is off-limits that once the season starts, the geese just move to safe areas. The late season is best as they are forced off the fields and small ponds to the unfrozen salt water. However, if there is a mild fall and winter, they just stay in the fields.
The fall Grouse, pheasant, and quail seasons will be Oct. 13-Nov. 24 with a bag limit of 3 grouse, 2 pheasant and 4 quail. The fall turkey will run from Oct. 29-Nov.3.
Remember that all of these dates listed here are not official. Please check online with the Division of Wildlife for their official publication.