The Ohio Division of Wildlife has made significant - even ground-breaking - changes to its waterfowl hunting rules for the 2011-2012 season.
Among them is that the fabled marsh region of western Lake Erie has been carved out for its own duck-hunting niche.
For Northeast Ohio goose hunters, the Lake Erie Zone goose-hunting season dates have undergone a radical make-over as well. This includes a split season running Oct. 15 through Oct. 30 and followed by a second segment that doesn’t open until Nov. 12 but will run through Jan. 8, 2012.
Duck hunters who pursue birds in Northeast Ohio will see the North Zone duck-hunting dates as being Oct. 15 to Oct. 30 as the first part and followed by a second segment that will run Nov. 19 through Jan. 1.
“Basically, this change was based on surveys that we’ve done over the past few years. Hunters didn’t think the ducks were showing up until after the seasons were over,” said Jacob Gray, the Wildlife Division’s waterfowl management biologist.
“Some of that is perception but these changes were driven by public comment.”
Gray said the goose-hunting dates were changed because most surveyed hunters by-and-large requested the change. Thus, the agency designed a goose-hunting season format to closely mirror the duck-hunting season format, Gray said.
“Hunters said they wanted to hunt Canada geese in late December and early January,” Gray said. “Based on public comments that’s what the public wanted. They are significant changes, though.”
The newly created Lake Erie Marsh Zone encompasses portions of Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Erie counties. The duck hunting season in the Lake Erie Marsh Zone is October 15 to 30 followed by a second segment that opens Nov. 12 through Dec. 25.
Bag limits will remain the same as they’ve been for the past few years with a TOTAL bag limit of six ducks. This includes allowing a hunter to shoot up to three wood ducks, four mallards (of which only one can be a hen), one black duck, two redheads, two scaup, one canvasback, two pintails, and one mottled duck.
The daily bag limit for Canada geese remains at two.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn