Ohio hunters should have good opportunities to take some of the most popular species of waterfowl when the hunting season opens across much of the state Oct. 15, based on the findings of biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The spring pond index for the prairie pothole region of North America (Kansas to central Saskatchewan) and breeding duck surveys indicate a better than average reproduction year for most duck species. Ponds are housing above-normal numbers, and good production has been noted from most of the primary breeding range.
Closer to home, the Upper Great Lakes states and eastern Canadian provinces showed good to excellent mallard nesting and brood rearing habitat conditions, and breeding populations similar to 2010. The Upper Great Lakes are the primary breeding range for mallards harvested in Ohio.
Mallards are Ohio’s most harvested duck and can be found throughout the state. Wood ducks, which are the second most harvested duck in Ohio and the state’s No. 1 breeding duck, appear to also have had a good production year.
Canada geese are overall the most harvested waterfowl in the Buckeye State and can be found in good numbers throughout Ohio. In-state giant Canada geese had the highest population estimate this spring, and all indications are there was fair to good production across the state. Migrant interior populations (Southern James Bay and Mississippi Valley) of Canada geese also have had good production. With proper weather, the hunting outlook is good to very good.
With good habitat conditions, Ohio hunters will enjoy a liberal 60-day hunting season again this year. Pintail continued to increase in population, which will allow a two-bird bag for the second year in a row. Scaup showed a slight increase in population and will see a two-bird bag for the entire 60-day season. The canvasback population increased slightly, and there will be a full season in 2011.
The success of Ohio waterfowl hunters has more to do with weather conditions and local habitat conditions rather than continental duck populations. State wildlife areas are in good condition with excellent fall food potential.
Details of the waterfowl and all other hunting seasons can be found in the Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations and in Ohio Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Publication 5295. Hunters also can review seasons and regulations online at wildohio.com.
For more from Buckeye Sportsman Dan Armitage, see the Mid October issue of Ohio’s Country Journal.