Youth Waterfowl Weekends Give Kids an Early Shot

October 6, 2016

Gadwall may be seen in Oklahoma earlier during the fall migration season.

(GARY ASHLEY/FLICKR(CC BY-NC2.0)

    Youths can take advantage of two-day "previews" in each of Oklahoma's three waterfowl hunting zones during Youth Waterfowl Weekends, beginning this weekend in the three Panhandle counties of Oklahoma.

    These special youth-only weekends provide two additional days outside of the regular waterfowl seasons for those 15 or younger to get involved in the sport.
    This year's Youth Waterfowl Weekends by zone are:

 

    * Panhandle Zone: Oct. 8-9.

    * Zone 1 (northwestern Oklahoma):Oct. 22-23.

    * Zone 2 (southwestern and eastern Oklahoma): Oct. 29-30.

 

    Youth hunters are allowed to harvest ducks, geese, mergansers and coots during these weekends. Youths must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older who is hunter education-certified (unless exempt). The adult hunter may not hunt ducks, mergansers or coots but may participate in other hunting seasons that are open on those days. All daily bag limits for youths hunting during Youth Waterfowl Weekends are the same as those for the regular waterfowl hunting seasons.

    Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said few ducks were in the state this week. But a cold front is expected to push through Oklahoma today, and Richardson is hopeful more ducks will arrive with it.

    The regular hunting season for ducks, mergansers and coots will open in the Panhandle Zone on Oct. 15, in Zone 1 on Oct. 29, and in Zone 2 on Nov. 5. Goose season will open statewide Oct. 29.

     Each year, Oklahoma structures its waterfowl seasons based on proposed frameworks issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Oklahoma's 74-day regular duck season and generous harvest limits the past several years have boosted hunters' satisfaction. This year, the USFWS used a different method to develop its season frameworks, and waterfowl hunting season dates for Oklahoma were determined months earlier than in previous years.

    The 2016-17 daily limit of six ducks may include no more than five mallards (only two may be hens), three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two pintails and two canvasbacks. The daily limit of mergansers is five (only two may be hooded mergansers), and the daily limit of coots is 15.

    Duck hunting regulations and more information about hunting licenses, waterfowl stamps and permit requirements can be found in the current "Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide," available as a mobile app for iPhone and Android, online at wildlifedepartment.com or at hundreds of locations statewide where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.