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June 2012
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Duck season ahead near rerun of last year; survey results best yet

By Steve Vantreese

 There's no telling where they'll go and hang out when they're fair game, but ducks should be plentiful for a Kentucky hunting season that's set to be similar to that of last year.

Kentucky's 2014-15 duck season, pending final approval from the state legislature, is proposed as Nov. 27-Jan. 25. Like last year's, it again is a one-segment endeavor â “ not a split, two-part season as was the case as late as the 2012-13 hunting year.

Along with the 60-day season, hunters will encounter another six-duck daily bag limit, one unchanged from the 2013-14 hunting season. The season length and the bag limit necessarily are based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines, which again this year are of the generous sort.

The "liberal option" guidelines from the feds are rooted in the results of the annual survey of the breeding population of ducks in northern states' and Canada's pothole and ponding nesting areas. The upshot of this year's Waterfowl Population Status report is that the estimate for all duck species surveyed is 49.2 million, up 8 percent from last year and higher than it's ever been.

The summation from the survey is that hunters may experience a hunting season that is similar to or slightly better than last year. That's an easy call with ducks surveyed showing themselves to be at an all-time high in the history of the population monitoring.

Many conditions affecting the fall migration like weather, water availability and food abundance/scarcity could make or break hunting this year by determining where ducks will be when you want them. Having lots of ducks only benefits area hunters when those ducks are locally present during the hunting season. But the possibilities â “ the number of ducks available to come down the flyway â “ are about as good as they get.

Also proposed for this time around is a Canada goose season of Nov. 27-Jan. 31 in the Western, Pennyrile-Coalfield and Eastern goose zones. Those same dates are offered for the seasons on white-fronted geese and brant and the regular season for snow geese.

The dates for the snow goose conservation order season, that period of extended hunting provided in hopes of reducing overpopulation of these birds, would be Feb. 1-6 and Feb. 9-March 31 in the Western Duck Zone. Those extra hunting days are simply Feb. 1-March 31 in the Eastern Duck Zone.

The snow goose conservation order hunt is broken in the Western Duck Zone specifically because the dates offered for the zone's annual youth waterfowl season are Feb. 7-8. In the eastern zone, the youth waterfowl hunt is a fall thing, proposed for Nov. 1-2.

Like those for ducks, geese bag limits will be unchanged from 2013-14.

Kentucky hunters can look for the special early wood duck and teal season Sept. 17-21, but proposed for this year is an extension for dates during which teal only (no wood ducks) can be hunted. The added teal hunting dates will be Sept 22-25.

n Squirrel hunting is under way in the Land Between the Lakes, the opening date having corresponded to that of statewide hunting in Kentucky, Aug. 16. The LBL's early squirrel hunt runs through Oct. 14 in the Kentucky portion, while that of the Tennessee end of the public area is Aug. 16-Sept. 26 and Oct. 1-14.

The archery deer season in the LBL kicks in Sept. 6. That, too, corresponds with Kentucky's statewide archery hunt for deer.

n Kentucky squirrel hunters can help Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources managers monitor the squirrel population by taking part in the annual volunteer Squirrel Hunter Cooperator Survey.

The survey has participating hunters essentially report the hours they spend hunting and the numbers of squirrels seen and harvested. The data, collected from numerous hunters, helps biologists track squirrel population trends across the state.

Hunter cooperator survey logs are available on request by phoning the KDFWR at 1-800-858-1549 or online at www.fw.ky.gov, clicking on the "Hunt" tab, selecting "Game Species" from a drop-down menu, then clicking "Squirrel." Hunters who provide survey data receive a report on the collective data and a small gift for participating.

n The Land Between the Lakes' Woodlands Nature Station during next week's long Labor Day holiday weekend â “ Aug. 30-Sept. 1 â “ will host happenings for Nature's Most Extreme Weekend.

Programs and activities will center around area wildlife with outstanding qualities, reportedly the biggest, smallest, ugliest, most venomous â “ whatever makes them most extreme. Programs, many featuring live animals at the Nature Station, have start-up times from 11 a.m. to 3:30 Aug. 30, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 31 and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 1.

Also, guided sunset canoe trips are set for 5:30-8 p.m. Aug. 30 and Aug. 31. Participation in these requires a fee and reservation by phoning 270-924-2020.

Check on the website, www.lbl.org, for more details and general LBL information.

n The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reducing the number of firearms deer permits available in several counties to lighten this year's whitetail harvest. IDNR spokesmen said the recommendations were made on the basis of last year's hunting harvest, deer-vehicle accidents in various counties, hemorrhagic disease deer fatality reports and other data.

The biggest single reduction is for the county that has been allotted the most firearms deer permits, Pike County. For 2014, hunters will be issued no more than 4,000 gun permits to hunt in Pike, down 500 from 4,500 last year.

Farther downstate, Union County's firearms permits will drop from 2,900 to 2,800.

In southernmost Illinois, Hardin County's firearm deer permits will go from 1,900 down to 1,800, while those for Pulaski County will drop from 950 to 850. Permit numbers for other southernmost counties will not change.

n The annual drawing for seasonal waterfowl blind sites on the Doug Travis Wildlife Management Area in Carlisle and Hickman counties will be at 9 a.m. next Saturday, Aug. 30. The drawing will be at the management area office, .5 mile south of Burkley on Ky. 123. The drawing for blind sites on Lake Barkley WMA in Trigg and Lyon counties will be 8 a.m. Sept. 15 at the shelter on the east side of the Barkley Dam tailwaters, just off U.S. 62 in the Lake City area.

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