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Young hunters get last shot at ducks, Canada geese this weekend

By Steve Vantreese

This weekend, waterfowling is exclusively kid stuff in the western portion of Kentucky.

The regular duck hunting season ended Sunday and the Canada goose season ran through Friday, the last day of January. But this weekend revives both duck and goose hunting for youngsters under age 16 with the advent of the Feb. 1-2 youth waterfowl hunting season in the state's western waterfowl zone.

Junior hunters, each of whom must be overseen by an adult, can hunt ducks and geese under bag limits and other regulations that were standard for the regular, all-ages duck and goose seasons. Adults accompanying the kid hunters can call and assist in a general fashion, but they must leave the shooting to the youngsters; the adults themselves cannot hunt.

Youth waterfowlers ages 12-15 must have a junior hunting license to hunt. No one qualifying to hunt in the youth waterfowl season is required to have either a Kentucky waterfowl permit or a federal duck stamp.

Kids ages 12-15 must have certification from completion of an approved hunter education course, while younger ones (again, accompanied by adults) are exempt from hunter education requirements.

Lacking hunter ed certification, however, one alternative remains. A hunter of any age can obtain a one-time exemption from the requirement of having completed a hunter education course. It costs $5 through the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources' licensing site and can be used through only one hunting year.

The Western Waterfowl Zone that allows the Feb. 1-2 youth waterfowl hunt encompasses about the western third of Kentucky. It includes all the western counties excluded from the Eastern Goose Zone.

The Eastern Waterfowl Zone's youth hunt for ducks and geese is an autumn event. It was held Nov. 2-3 in 2013.

With conclusion of the western youth season at the close of shooting hours Sunday, all that remains of waterfowling for the 2013-14 hunting year is the extended conservation order snow goose hunting season.

This additional season for now remains an extra hunting opportunity set with the goal of reducing the numbers of snow geese. This species has been shown to be overloading its spring and summer nesting territories in the arctic and subarctic North. An expanded population has resulted in degraded habitat which, over time, could cause a dramatic population crash as well as ecological damage.

To that end, the conservation order season for snow geese this year is Feb. 3-March 31. During that time, no daily bag limit and no possession limit is observed.

Conservation order snow goose hunters must have a special permit for the season, but the permit is free for the asking via the KDFWR website, www.fw.ky or by phoning 1-800-858-1549.

n Got an ear for amphibians in concert? Volunteers are sought for an auditory inventory of frogs and toads singing in southern Illinois' Cache River watershed.

Data gatherers/listeners are being enlisted for annual frog and toad call surveys along designated routes in Massac, Pope, Johnson, Alexander, Pulaski and Union counties. The surveys are carried out four times February through June.

Volunteers receive training to recognize the calls of species of frogs and toads found in southern Illinois. They then note the species they hear on the standardized survey routes â “ all part of an Illinois Natural History project conducted each year since 1995.

Indications worldwide are that amphibians are in decline. Scientists want to track frog and toad population trends throughout Illinois as a part of an ecology study. Data from the Cache River watershed surveys goes toward that study.

Volunteers for the surveys should attend an orientation session at 1 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center on Ill. 37, three miles south of Cypress. For more information on volunteers' roles or to register in advance, phone 618-657-2064 from Wednesday until the orientation.

n Hunters now can apply online â “ at www.lbl.org â “ for permits to take part in quota turkey hunts at Land Between the Lakes this spring. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28.

Quota hunts in the Kentucky part of the federal area will be a youth hunt (for those under 16) March 29-30 and regular quota hunts April 8-9 and April 12-13. In the Tennessee end, a quota youth hunt for hunters ages 6-16 will be April 5-6, and regular quota hunts will be April 8-9 and April 12-13.

No hunting is allowed before or between quota hunts, but the regular (non-quota) turkey gobbler season will be April 14-27 in the Kentucky part of the LBL, while non-quota turkey hunting in the Tennessee portion is divided into two sessions, April 14-20 and April 21-27.

n Registration now is open for a one-day offering of the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program April 5 at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources' Camp Robert Webb on the shore of Grayson Lake in Carter County.

The program is a non-competitive orientation into various outdoors skills for women. Professionals will teach a range of topics, from which participants can select two learning sessions. The program cost is $50 for two classes, lunch, equipment and materials. For another $25, participants can have lodging the previous night and continental breakfast at Camp Webb. Registration is available online at www.fw.ky.gov, open until March 14 or until available course space is filled.

More information: Phone the KDFWR at 1-800-858-1549.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. E-mail outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com.

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