ducks

Courtesy Photo/Dave Sartwell

Duck hunting season opens up on October 4 and runs through January.

The migratory game bird 2014-15 seasons for Massachusetts were set last week by MassWildlife. The state is divided into three hunting zones. The coastal zone which encompasses our area starts at the New Hampshire line southward on I-95 to Route 1, South on Route 1 to I-93, South on I-93 to Route 3, South on Route 3 to Route 6, West on Route 6 to Route 28, West on Route 28 to I-195, West on Route I-195 to the Rhode Island line except that the waters and the lands 150 yards above the high water mark of the Assonet River to the Route 24 bridge and the Taunton River to the Center Street/Elm Street bridge shall be in the Coastal Zone.

Goose Season

The Canada goose season in this zone is divided into four separate sessions. The early season runs from Tuesday Sept. 2 through Sept. 25 with a daily limit of 7. The second season runs from Oct. 15-Oct. 25, the third from Nov. 22-Jan. 30 with a daily limit of 3 birds and the late season from Jan. 31-Feb. 14 with a daily limit of 5 birds. The snow and blue goose seasons are the same as ducks with a late season the same as the Canada Goose season with a 15 bird daily limit. 

The first and last seasons have liberal limits because the state is trying to reduce the huge resident goose population in the area. 

Duck Seasons

The sea duck (Scoter, Eider, and Long-tail duck) season will run from Oct. 4-Jan 31. The daily limit is 7 of which you can harvest no more than 4 scoter, 4 eider (only one hen), and 4 long-tail duck.

The duck, coot and merganser seasons are divided into two sessions. In our region the seasons run from Oct. 15-Oct. 25 and from Nov. 22-Jan 19 with a 6 bird limit. The daily bag can hold no more than 1 black duck, 4 mallards(of which only 2 can be female), 3 wood ducks, 1 Canvasback, 1 Fulvous whistling, 2 hooded merganser, 1 mottled, 2 pintail, 2 redhead, and 2 scaup. All other ducks are limited to 4 a day. 

Brant

The season for brant is Nov. 15-Nov. 29 and Dec. 16-Jan.3 with a 2 bird limit. 

Possession limit:

In all cases you can have in your possession no more than three times the daily limit for all migratory birds. 

Woodcock Season

The woodcock season runs this year from Oct. 8-Nov. 22 with a 3 bird daily limit.

STAMPS

 In addition to a hunting license, each waterfowl hunter 16 years or older must carry on his person a valid federal waterfowl stamp and each hunter 15 years or older must purchase a Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. The federal stamp must be signed across the face in ink. Stamps are required for hunting any ducks (including seaducks) geese or brant, but not required for hunting rails, snipe, woodcock, or American coot. Federal stamps are valid July 1 - June 30 and are available at all National Wildlife Refuges, selected U.S. Post Offices, and at www.usps.com. Massachusetts state stamps are valid Jan. 1 - Dec. 31 and may be purchased online at www. mass.gov/massfishhunt or wherever hunting licenses are sold.

Youth Waterfowl Hunt;

The youth waterfowl has two dates set aside just for them. On  Oct. 4 and Oct. 11 young people  ages 12-15 can hunt for ducks, coots, mergansers, and geese. All youths must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter with valid Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. One firearm only. Adult may not hunt and may carry firearm only when unloaded and cased. No license or stamp needed for youths ages 12-14. License and Massachusetts waterfowl stamp needed for youths age 15. No federal stamp required. All other hunting regulations/bag limits apply.

 HIP  Survey REQUIRED

ALL migratory gamebird hunters must register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) each calendar year. Licensed woodcock, snipe, coot, and waterfowl hunters must complete a HIP survey either on line at www.mass.gov/massfishhunt or anywhere hunting licenses are sold. You can no longer get them by phone. When purchasing a state waterfowl stamp, waterfowl hunters are automatically registered with HIP.

This column is advisory only. You should go online at mass.wildlife@state.ma.us for the complete posting of the laws and seasons. 

Here are a couple of things to remember. ALWAYS wear a life jacket when you are in a boat going to and from your blind or while hunting in a boat. Over the years I have lost three close friends who drowned while duck hunting. YOU CANNOT SWIM in waders. They fill...you go down. Period. 

No person may hunt from or by means of any motor boat or sailboat unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or sails furled and ALL PROGRESS therefrom has ceased. However, a hunter may pick up or retrieve dead or crippled birds from a craft under power and may shoot injured birds from powered craft in coastal waters seaward of the first upstream bridge.

Blinds/decoys

Now is the time to go over your decoys to make sure the lines and anchors are okay and to repaint heads, etc. Check your boat to dull any shiny spots or repaint the exterior. If you hunt from your boat, make sure all the components you use to camouflage fit. Start the engine and make sure it runs fine. 

We are blessed here on the North Shore to have so much marsh land open for hunting. The duck populations are high due to some great conservation efforts by both the federal government and organizations like Ducks Unlimited. So, oil up your gun, get your gear in shape and I will see you out there. 

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