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Numbers rebounding as North Dakota waterfowl season nears

In this episode of North Dakota Outdoors, Mike Anderson and waterfowl biologist Mike Szymanski of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department preview what hunters can expect in the upcoming waterfowl hunting season.

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BISMARCK — North Dakota wetland habitats rebounded nicely following severe drought conditions in 2021, providing better prospects for duck production in the state this year.

In this episode of North Dakota Outdoors, Mike Anderson and waterfowl biologist Mike Szymanski of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department preview what hunters can expect in the upcoming waterfowl hunting season, which begins Sept. 24 for residents and Oct. 1 for nonresidents.

“So coming out of spring we had the early blizzard. Mallard production was probably impacted the most, not in a great way so we’re down a little bit on mallard production,” Syzmanski says. “But our other upland nesting ducks like blue-winged teal, pintails, gadwall, shoveler all did really well this year. Blue-wing teal are going to be the high point. Overwater nesters like redhead and canvasback also did really well this year.”

Szymanski says he doesn’t expect an overly strong duck migration due to long-term dry conditions in Prairie Canada. With the lack of moisture and hot temperatures during late summer in North Dakota, wetlands are drying up.

MORE NEWS RELATING TO ND GAME & FISH:
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's July brood count survey tallied a 36% increase in duck broods from last year, an estimate 5% higher than the 1965-2021 average.

“Hunters are going to have to look hard to find good hunting spots, but hopefully ducks will be concentrated a little bit more this year and duck numbers a little bit higher.”

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There is one noteworthy change to this year’s waterfowl season.

“This year we combined the merganser bag limit into the duck bag limit, so it’s no longer separated. There’s no longer a separate hooded merganser restriction. Mergansers that you harvest will count towards your duck bag limit,” Syzmanski says.

For more information on the waterfowl season in North Dakota, visit the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov.

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The Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25, raises approximately $40 million in sales each year. Funds from stamp sales support critical conservation to protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
It was a busy waterfowl opener at many public accesses, with a mixed bag of ducks being brought in. Waterfowl hunters took mallards, wood ducks, pintails, ring necks and teal.
Hunters 12 and older need to have passed a certified hunter education course or obtain an apprentice hunter validation, which allows a person to hunt small game for one license year without completing hunter education.