And in a typical year, most of the water freezes and birds push out. The larger swamps and most of the state above 80 turn into ice skating rinks. Creeks in the south freeze up. I think most people think these past 2 seasons are the norm and want to react to it. I'm very hesitant.
Freeze up is ideal hunting on big water and rivers. Birds are more concentrated. Even when the bigger lakes are frozen there is almost always open moving water to be found within a couple hrs. drive. I've been seeing mallards and black ducks all through the late season this year and last in N.E. Ohio & N.W. Pa.. On average the winters are definitely warmer than what they used to be. I don't remember the Ohio river freezing over completely for quite a few years. The last time it came close to freezing up it didn't last very long. I've also noticed that allot of geese, mallards and black ducks seem to follow the freeze and thaw line north and south. When there's a January thaw those birds start to show up again.
The Federal Frameworks allowed States in the AF to hunt ducks until January 27th this year, a Sunday. So the 26th was the cutoff.
Here are this years dates for duck hunting in Pa.
North Zone: Oct. 6-20, and Nov. 13-Jan. 5.
South Zone: Oct. 13-20, and Nov. 15-Jan. 15.
Northwest Zone: Oct. 6-Dec. 14.
Lake Erie Zone: Oct. 22-Dec. 29.
We should consider having the South Zone end on the last possible day the Feds will allow. Then count backwards 53 shooting days, that date would be the 2nd split opener, no matter what day of the week it falls on. The other 7 shooting days could be the first split(Saturday to Saturday)and be around the middle of October sometime.
The North Zone could end 2 weeks earlier than the SZ, but follow the same guidelines.
I'll let the NWZ & LEZ guys figure out their own proposals.
I hunt during a freeze up and will walk out onto the ice shelf that lines the river to set decoys and get birds. Not many other guys I know will do that. That might be ideal for concentrating birds, but the average guy won't risk it. The seasons have to be set for when the majority of the habitat is ideal and when the majority of hunters will take advantage of it. When the only open water is the hole in the middle of the lake the geese keep open by swimming in it, it's less than ideal conditions.
This article descibes the basis of some of the reasons for not hunting later in the migration for Ducks. The Central Atlantic Flyway mean target date is January 5th when a ducks body weight is nuetral and the decline starts. Added pressure will decrease the body weight and will have a negative breeding and nesting rate...please read the article and decide for yourself.
Well said andy. The other thing is i dont think most people are aware of the drastic decline in population of the eastern mallard, very shocking numbers. if anything we should go to the more restrictive framework. If the population stays on course and the AFC doesnt change or hasnt changed the threshold we will soon be in the framework between liberal and most restrictive. not sure on specifics of bag limit, days etc
Like it was when I first started, 30 days/3 ducks, blacks closed during the first split. AF is so much different that the other flyways, we don't have near the numbers, so one little change, can really effect our populations.
Playing devil's advocate, what percentage of the population do we kill? I was under the assumption that hunter's take was insignificant compared to other mortality issues. Cutting our days and bag limits won't do much to stop a drastic decline in mallard numbers.
Thanks for the link Andy. I'm always looking to correctly understand more about the ducks we hunt.
The title of the link is, Nutritional Values
of Waterfowl Foods. What ducks eat, the fiber content, protien of foods when flooded and how to manage habitat.
Didn't read anything in there about duck weights or later hunting pressure adding to the decreased body weight, which could lead to a negative breeding and nesting rate.
The Federal cutoff date for duck hunting this year was January 27th. Is this the date you're referring to when you say later hunting has a negative effect on breeding & nesting?
Or do you think having PA's dates extended to the last day the Feds allow would have a negative effect on the breeding & nesting?