Good duck hunting still ahead; goose seasons extend into February
PRATT -- Avid Kansas waterfowl hunters never worry about the post-holiday blues. For them, January and February mean some of the best hunting of the year. Late-migrating mallards are often abundant when shallow waters freeze, and mallards concentrate on rivers and reservoirs. In much of the state, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has established a Jan. 17-25 duck season, so hunters can take advantage of this late migration.

The Jan. 17-25 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 2008 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, too. Canada goose season runs through Feb. 15 statewide. White-fronted goose season is currently closed, but it re-opens Feb. 7-15. Light geese (Ross', snow, and blue) may be hunted through April 30.

As of Jan. 13 the reported number of waterfowl in Kansas included 672,000 geese and 117,000 ducks statewide, but those numbers vary greatly depending on weather.

Currently, the top three areas for geese are Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) with 152,000; Webster WA with 20,000; and Glen Elder Wildlife Area (WA) with 18,000. (Cheyenne Bottoms WA reports fluctuations of 30,000-300,000 geese.) The top three areas for ducks are Glen Elder WA with 89,000; Neosho WA with 15,000; and Webster WA with 10,000. (These numbers are approximate and can fluctuate daily.) Other areas are holding solid duck numbers; check the nearest KDWP office for the latest information.

Hunters should be aware that these numbers can change dramatically in a short period of time. Waterfowl may move on, and many areas of the state are experiencing frigid temperatures that may freeze over some lakes. Be sure to check the updated waterfowl reports on the KDWP website before planning a hunt.

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 2008 seasons are valid through the winter and spring of 2009.