The dates have been set for the 2014-15 migratory bird hunting seasons in Connecticut, which include seasons for hunting ducks, geese, woodcock, snipe, and rails.
Specific details on season dates, bag limits, regulations, and other reminders are published in the 2014-2015 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide, which is available on the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website at www.ct.gov/deep/hunting.
New for 2014-15: The canvasback daily bag limit will be one bird for the entire season. The NAP H-Unit Canada goose season has been increased by 10 days, to 70 days, with a three-bird daily bag limit.
September Canada Goose season
The September Canada goose season will be held in the North Zone (portion of the state north of Interstate 95) from Sept. 2-30.
The season in the South Zone (portion of the state south of Interstate 95) will run from Sept. 15-30. The daily bag limit remains at 15 geese.
Ducks, mergansers and coots
Duck numbers continue to be high, but production was average this year. The North Zone early duck season runs from Oct. 8-18. The South Zone early season goes from Oct. 8-11.
The late North Zone season is Nov. 11-Jan. 7, 2015. The late South Zone season is Nov. 17-Jan. 20, 2015.
The sea duck season in the coastal areas and streams seaward of the first upstream bridge has been set for Sept. 22-Jan. 20, 2015.
Due to continued concern over the status of sea duck populations and increasing hunting pressure, the total sea duck bag limit remains at five. Sea duck hunters should be prepared that reductions in season lengths are on the horizon in the next couple of years. This may also be accompanied by changes in the bag limit.
The Atlantic brant season is shortened to a 30-day season and in the North Zone will be from Dec. 4-Jan. 7, 2015. In the South Zone, it’s Dec. 17-Jan. 20, with a two-bird daily bag limit.
Legal shooting hours for all waterfowl hunting (except for the September Canada goose season) are from one-half hour before sunrise, to sunset. Legal shooting hours for the September Canada goose season are from one-half hour before sunrise, to one-half hour after sunset.
Regular, late Canada goose seasons
The North Atlantic Population (NAP) Canada goose hunt zone was split into two zones — the NAP L-Unit and the NAP H-Unit — in 2002. These zones were created to exert more harvest pressure on resident geese in areas where nuisance problems persist.
These zones were changed for the 2008-09 hunting season to account for changes in distribution of migrant and resident Canada geese.
The NAP L-Unit was removed, and a new zone, the Atlantic Flyway Resident Population (AFRP) zone, was created. These same units are in place for the 2014-15 season. See the 2014-15 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide for complete descriptions of the AFRP, NAP H and AP hunting units.
Hunters have indicated their preference for the goose and duck seasons to overlap as much as possible.
The regular goose season in the AFRP Unit will be divided into three periods. The first period will run from Oct.. 14-18. The second period will run from Nov. 19-29. The final period will run from Dec. 2-Feb. 14, 2015.
This zone has been very effective at targeting resident geese. A recent analysis indicated that over 98% of the birds harvested in this zone are resident birds. The daily bag limit in the AFRP Unit is five geese.
In the NAP H-Unit, the regular goose season, in both the North and South Zones, will be divided in two. The first period will run from Oct. 8-18, while the second will run from Nov. 17-Jan. 24. This is a 10-day increase in the season length and the daily bag limit has been increased from two to three.
The AP Unit goose season will be divided into two periods. The first period will run from Oct. 14-18, 2014, while the second will run from Nov. 17-Jan. 7, 2015. The daily bag limit will be three geese.
Special late season
Sportsmen also will have the opportunity to harvest resident Canada geese during the special late season (in the South Zone only, east of the Quinnipiac River) from Jan. 26-Feb. 14, 2015. The bag limit during the late season is five geese, and no special permit is required for this season.
Hunters are urged to read the goose zone descriptions. The AFRP zone contains part of the old South Zone (west of the Quinnipiac River), and the AFRP zone is open to goose hunting in January and February.
The dates for the snow goose season in the North Zone are Oct. 1-Jan. 15, 2015, and from Feb. 21-March 10, 2015. In the South Zone, the snow goose season will run from Oct. 1-Nov. 29, and then from Jan. 7-March 10, 2015.
Youth Waterfowl Training Days
Connecticut will hold two Youth Waterfowl Hunter Training Days on Saturday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 1. Participants must be 15 years of age or younger, possess a valid junior small game hunting license and a HIP permit, and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age. Adults must possess a valid hunting license; however, they are not allowed to hunt waterfowl.
Ducks, geese, merganser and coots may be hunted. Bag limits and shooting hours are the same as for the regular duck and goose hunting seasons.
Woodcock, snipe and rail seasons
The woodcock and snipe seasons will be split into two segments. The first segment will run from Oct.. 22-Nov. 22. The second segment will run from Nov. 24-Dec. 6. The rail season will open on Sept. 2-Nov. 10.
A few reminders
All waterfowl hunters are required to obtain an annual Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit, in addition to obtaining a hunting license. Waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older also are required to purchase a federal Duck Stamp and a Connecticut Duck Stamp.
Federal Duck Stamps are available from many local post offices for $15. Connecticut Duck Stamps ($13) and HIP permits ($4) can be purchased at all Connecticut town clerk offices and online at www.ct.gov/deep/sportsmenlicensing. A HIP permit also is required to hunt woodcock, snipe, coot and rails.
The 2014 Connecticut Duck Stamp will expire on Dec. 31, 2014. Hunters must purchase the 2015 Connecticut Duck Stamp before Jan. 1, 2015, if they plan to hunt into the early portion of 2015. Along with the purchase of a Duck Stamp, an additional $2 donation can be made to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund.
Respect the environment
Hunters are also reminded to think before they hunt, while they are hunting, and after they hunt. Be respectful of the environment and other people enjoying the outdoors. And, as always, be safe and have fun.
Hunters should report waterfowl leg bands. Band return information provides vital information for the continued sound management of the waterfowl resource.
Report bands to the USGS by calling 800-427-BAND or online at www.reportband.gov.