LATE-SEASON HUNTER GETS THE GOOSE (OR DUCK)
Great duck hunting still ahead; goose seasons extend into February
PRATT -- January. Absolutely the best time to hunt waterfowl.
While this statement may be up for debate, many waterfowl hunters take it as gospel because late-migrating mallards often touch down in Kansas at this time. When shallow waters freeze, mallards concentrate on rivers and reservoirs. In much of the state, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has established a Jan. 20-28 duck season to allow hunters the opportunity to take advantage of this migration.
The Jan. 20-28 duck season runs in the High Plains Zone (west of U.S. Highway 283) and the Late Zone (most of eastern and central Kansas). To understand the exact boundaries of the Late Zone, a copy of the 2006 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, which contains maps outlining waterfowl boundaries, is required. Booklets are available at most KDWP offices or other places where licenses are sold. They also may be downloaded from the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us.
Ducks aren't the only waterfowl abundant in mid- to late winter. Geese are plentiful at this time of year. Canada goose season runs through Feb. 18 statewide. White-fronted goose season is currently closed, but it re-opens Feb. 10-18. Light geese (Ross', snow, and blue) may be hunted through April 30.
As of Jan. 8 the reported number of waterfowl in Kansas included 1,055,000 geese and 260,000 ducks statewide, but those numbers can change depending on weather.
Currently, the top three areas for geese are Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) with 617,000; Kirwin NWR with 183,000; and the Jeffrey Energy Center with 150,000. The top three areas for ducks are Kirwin NWR with 120,000; Jeffrey Energy Center with 45,000; and Neosho Wildlife Area with 27,000. (These numbers are approximate and can fluctuate daily.) Other areas are holding solid duck numbers; check the nearest KDWP office for the latest information. Updated waterfowl reports may also be found on the KDWP website.
All waterfowl hunters 16 and older must have a federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, and all hunters who are required to obtain a license must also have a Kansas State Waterfowl Habitat Stamp and a Harvest Information Program (HIP) stamp before attempting to take ducks and geese. (Those not required to have a Kansas hunting license include people hunting their own land and residents 15 and younger or 65 and older.)
Waterfowl and HIP stamps purchased during the fall 2006 seasons are valid through the winter and spring of 2007.