2005 Waterfowl Preview: East

The amount of rainfall and the severity of Canadian cold fronts will determine what type of waterfowl season the eastern and central part of the United States will have this year.


Duck populations in the midcontinent prairie and parkland regions should be similar to last year, but remain 10 percent below the long-term average.

However, most of the mallard, wood duck, black duck and green-winged teal harvested in the state come from Michigan and forested areas of Ontario.

These populations have been stable over the past several years except Michigan mallards, which are declining.

Habitat conditions at the Shiawassee State Game Area continue to look good.
Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie were great areas to hunt diving ducks last year.

Look for these areas to be hot spots again, as well as Saginaw Bay and the St. Mary's River System in the eastern Upper Peninsula. The best time to hunt ringnecks, scaup, redheads and canvasbacks is between Oct. 15 and Nov. 20.

Although the spring population estimates of geese nesting on Hudson Bay increased from last year's estimate, the population continues to be below management goals.

The Southern James Bay Population, which migrates mostly through southeast Michigan, was similar to last year.

For more information, contact Coldwater Charters (517-279-7779)


Spring survey results indicate that an upward trend in numbers of breeding mallards, wood ducks and total ducks continues.

The total duck population estimate was 724,000, up 11 percent from 2004 and 75 percent above the long-term average.

Because mallards are the most abundant duck in Wisconsin's harvest at nearly 40 percent of the total harvest, breeding mallards are an important gauge of potential fall waterfowl numbers.

The Wisconsin breeding population estimate for mallards is 317,000, which is up from 2004 (229,000) and 81 percent above the long-term average. This figure is similar to the average for the previous five years.

Wood ducks continue to increase their in-state breeding populations. This is very encouraging, as these ducks have become a major portion of the fall harvest at 16 percent.

An early spring produced very good breeding conditions for the MVP Canada geese in Ontario this year, and it appears that the adult breeders are poised to help the population recover with a good production year.

The breeding survey of MVP Canada geese estimated 345,000 breeding adults. The breeding survey showed a 25 percent increase from 2004 numbers but was still a little lower than the average of the previous 16 years.

While higher than 2004 it does not appear that the population has recovered to a level which would allow a more liberal Canada goose harvest quota.

For more information, contact Robb Kaminskis at Beaver Creek Outfitting (262-634-8050).


Ray Marshalla, Illinois state waterfowl biologist, said that some of the best food conditions ever currently exist in the Illinois River Valley in three of the major Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs that are public hunting areas.

"But we are faced with a severe shortage of water," he said.

"If we don't get some timely rains I don't know if we have enough money to pump the water that we need to utilize all that is out there."

The most noteworthy hunting areas are Rice Lake, Anderson Lake and Sanganois. Eight or nine more sites in the Mississippi River area should provide good hunting.

"Three other sites that are not associated with the Illinois River are Lake Shelbyville in East Central Illinois, towards Indiana," said Marshalla.

"In southern Illinois, about 50 miles east of St. Louis, is Carlyle, one of the biggest public hunting areas in the state. They just have a really lush growth of moist soil plants as well as planted corn. They all have their own pumping capabilities, but the only question is if there will be enough water in the stream we pump out of to pump those impoundments full, particularly so at Shelbyville."

For more information, contact Porter's Goose Hunting Club (847-639-8590).


It's looking like an average year in the Buckeye State. Water conditions are in pretty good shape; habitat, for the most part, is in good condition.
About 100,000 giant Canadian geese are resident to Ohio. The September season has been going pretty good and indications are that migrant birds will be about average, or a little better than
normal this year.
For more information, contact Wackum and Stackum
Guide Service (614-843-8073; www.wackumandstackum.com).

New Jersey

Due to the continued poor status of scaup, bag limits are reduced to two scaup per day.

Although pintails remain below their long-term average, 2005 population indices increased 17 percent relative to last year. As a result, pintails were reinstated as a legal species through the 60-day duck season.

The canvasback season will be 30 days, with a bag limit of one bird throughout the Atlantic Flyway states.

The season length for snow geese is 107 days, the longest allowed under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Bag limits will remain liberal this year with 15 snow geese per day and no possession limit.

For more information contact Eric C. Toften at Indian Valley Hunting Service (215-453-1126).

New York

The best hunts are in the Lake Plains area, near Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence. Northern Montezuma, Oak Orchard and Tonawanda WMAs provide good action. Or try Perch River, Upper and Lower WMAs.

For more information contact Scott Miller at Finger Lakes Hunting Service (585-657-6791).

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania waterfowl biologists report that the upcoming waterfowl seasons will depend on weather fronts coming through.

"Right now we're holding doves like crazy," said Vern Ross, agency executive director.

"Typically our birds are gone by now. We need rain most importantly. We are well below our average rainfall."

The Susquehanna River valley, Delaware River valley and the Lake Erie Marshlands normally hold water.

Mallards and wood ducks are early season favorites. Wood ducks are mainly in the northeast part of the state in backwater areas of creeks and rivers.

For more information contact Kevin Popo at Kevin Popo Guide Service (302-792-0162).

Material from Fishing & Hunting News
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