The Northern Zone duck hunt will open for hunters this Saturday, Sept. 24 and will run through Nov. 22. The Southern Zone will follow with an initial opening date of Oct. 1.

Although the zone structure for waterfowl throughout the state changed in 2021, season lengths and hunting hours have remained the same. Regular waterfowl hunting will run for a 60-day season with varied opening dates throughout the state, based on zones.

Zone changes from the previous year include the former Mississippi River Zone merging into the Southern Zone and a new Open Water Zone was created in the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

The opening for the 2022 migratory game bird season began Sept. 1 with openers for early goose, teal and mourning dove. Close dates for seasons are set by harvest zone and regular waterfowl seasons for the Northern Zone opens Sept. 24; Southern Zone opens Oct. 1; and Open Water Zone opens Oct. 15.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the primary stewardship responsibility for waterfowl populations and habitats in Wisconsin as well as the management of waterfowl hunting.

Although there has been a loss of more than 50% of Wisconsin’s original 10 million acres of wetlands, waterfowl management has evolved and the state has been able to maintain a strong waterfowl hunting heritage, said officials.

Spring waterfowl surveys show mallard and wood duck breeding populations are all at or above their long-term averages, with blue-winged teal breeding populations the only species remaining below the long-term averages.

“With over 20 years of a 60-day season and a six-duck daily bag limit, hunters are generally satisfied with the regulations,” said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory game bird ecologist.

According to statistics, waterfowl harvest levels are average to high compared with historical levels and mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged teal are three of the four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin’s harvest.

Based on state surveys, an important variable for improving the waterfowl hunting experience for duck hunters is to provide opportunities and locations for duck hunters to experience less hunter crowding.

Goose hunters, similar to the duck season, will have varied hunting dates based on zones. Hunters can plan for the following: Northern Goose Zone dates will be open from Sept. 16 to Dec. 16; Southern Goose Zone will be split into three splits with the following open dates of Sept. 16 to Oct. 9, Oct. 15 to Dec. 4 and Dec. 18 to Jan. 3, 2023; the Mississippi River Goose Zone will split into two sections, Oct. 1-9 and Oct. 15 to Jan. 3, 2023.

Hunters also saw an increase in the cost for state waterfowl stamps in the previous year and this fee remains at previously increased rate of $12. The stamp fee fund is crucial to waterfowl habitat and restoration, according to the DNR.

For more information regarding migratory birds, hunting seasons and regulations, visit dnr.wi.gov.