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OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle: Duck season starts today

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor
Bill Wehrle column

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Today’s the day local and area duck hunters have been waiting for since last January, the opening of the 2020-2021 Missouri North Zone duck season (the North Zone is all of north Missouri; in our area the south boundary is Highway 24).

The season will run for 60 days, closing here on Jan. 5, the longest duck season allowed under federal guidelines. Two full months of duck hunting – it doesn’t get much better than that!

A 6-duck daily limit with some species restrictions is also the most liberal allowed under current regulations.

There’s no way to predict when or how many ducks actually will spend some time in our area, but a large number of ducks is predicted to come south this fall.

The recent unseasonably-cold weather and early snowfall should have gotten them moving. What this past week’s warmup did to their travel schedule – who knows?

I know local hunters have been eagerly awaiting today. Hopefully, opening day will be a great one. After last year’s disappointing duck season in much of the local area, we’re ready for a good one.

Regulations for this popular season are pretty much the same as last year.

Species limits are also the same, with a weird scaup limit of two (2) scaup per day for the first 45 days of the season, but only one (1) per day for the last 15 days.

The possession limit is three (3) times the daily limit, also varying by species. Mallards will continue to have a 4-mallard (only two hens) daily limit, with some of our most popular ducks offering a 6-duck daily limit.

To add to area waterfowler’s fall and winter fun, in just four days (on Nov. 11), Missouri’s statewide goose season will open on Canada geese, brant, white-fronted geese, and snow, blue and Ross’s geese.

This season will last even longer than duck season, finally closing on Feb. 6 (with a Light Goose Conservation Order season to follow).

The daily limit on Canadas and brant is three (3) combined, on white-fronts it’s two (2), and on light geese it’s 20 per day. Possession limits are nine (9) on Canadas and six (6) on white-fronts; there’s no possession limit on light geese.

Quail and pheasant seasons opened last week (Nov. 1), November’s firearms deer season begins next Saturday, Nov. 14, and, if all these hunting seasons aren’t enough to keep you entertained, trapping season on furbearers opens on Nov. 15. An outdoors person who likes to hunt and trap has almost more choices than he/she can handle for the next few months. Guess you can run your trap line on your way out to hunt.

Fall firearms turkey season ends today and was as challenging as predicted.

With the final harvest total not yet available, it appears 2020 might go down as the smallest fall firearms turkey harvest since this season was first offered 40 years ago. Last year’s fall harvest was the lowest ever at 1,952 turkeys taken, but it appears this fall’s might be even less. Fewer than 20 turkeys were checked in from Livingston County in this year’s 31-day season.

Whatever you choose to pursue in the many hunting season choices still available, good luck and be sure to hunt safely.

(Bill Wehrle’s outdoors sports column appears in the Constitution-Tribune each Saturday.)