Hunter’s Choice experiment  monitors waterfowl populations

AUSTIN– Texas waterfowl hunters will once again have the Hunter’s Choice bag limit during the 2008-09 seasons. The Central Flyway, of which Texas is a member, will be allowed to complete the three-year experimental Hunter’s Choice bag limit pilot this season despite a decline in canvasback breeding population numbers that mandate a conservative harvest federal framework.

The Hunter’s Choice allows hunters to shoot five ducks daily, but only one in the aggregate of certain species In the aggregate category, that one bird could be either a pintail, or a canvasback, or a “dusky duck” (mottled, black duck or Mexican-like duck) or a hen mallard.

“The other flyways came out in strong support of the Hunter’s Choice experiment in the Central Flyway,” said Dave Morrison, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department waterfowl program leader. “We gave up some things the last couple of years in order to get the Hunter’s Choice and I think they recognized the sacrifices our Flyway has made.”

All other flyways will see a closed season on canvasbacks and a more restricted season for scaup.

The general duck season length will be the same as last year in the North and South Zones at 74 days and 89 days in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit.

“In the High Plains, the season will be 7 days shorter than last year because we’re taking advantage of a 16-day teal season,” said Morrison.

This year’s North American waterfowl spring breeding population survey showed populations of the 10 most popular duck species was down 9 percent below last year, but remains11 percent above the long-term average with an estimated 37.3 million birds.

“The breeding population is similar to last year, but I expect production to be down and there probably will be fewer young birds heading our way,” Morrison noted. “I would not expect the season to be as good as last year for that reason, but I could be wrong. It depends on what happens up and down the country and how weather condition and food resources play out.”

Following is a rundown of the proposed Texas waterfowl hunting seasons: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will finalize the waterfowl hunting season regulations at its Aug. 21 public meeting in Houston.

2008-2009 Waterfowl Hunting Season Dates:
Duck Daily Bag Limit: The daily bag limit shall be 5 ducks with the following species and sex restrictions — 2 scaup, 2 redhead, 2 wood duck; only 1 from the following aggregate bag: 1 hen mallard, or 1 pintail, or 1 canvasback, or 1 dusky duck (mottled duck, Mexican like duck, black duck and their hybrids), all other ducks not listed — 5. Merganser Daily Bag Limit: 5 in the aggregate, to include no more than 2 hooded mergansers. Possession Limit: Twice the daily bag limit.

High Plains Mallard Management Unit:
–Youth — Oct. 18-19, 2008
–Regular Gun — Oct. 25-26, 2008; Oct. 31, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009
North Zone
–Youth — Oct. 25-26, 2008
–Regular Gun — Nov. 1-30, 2008; Dec. 13, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009
–Falconry — Jan. 26-Feb. 9, 2009
South Zone
–Youth — Oct. 25-26, 2008
–Regular Gun — Nov. 1-30, 2008; Dec. 13, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009
–Falconry — Jan. 26-Feb. 9, 2009

Geese With Conservation Order:
Possession Limit: Twice the daily bag limit for dark geese, no possession limit for light geese.
West Zone
West Zone Daily Bag Limit: Light geese — 20 in the aggregate; Dark geese — 4 Canada and 1 white-fronted goose.
–Light and Dark Geese — Nov. 8, 2008-Feb. 8, 2009
–Light Geese (Conservation Order) — Feb. 9, 2009-March 29, 2009
East Zone
East Zone Daily Bag Limit: Light geese — 20 in the aggregate; 3 Canada geese and 2 White-fronted geese.
–Light Geese, White-fronted Goose, Canada Goose — Nov. 1, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009; Nov. 1, 2008-Jan. 11, 2009; Nov. 1, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009
–Light Geese (Conservation Order) — Jan. 26-Mar. 29, 2009
Sandhill Crane
–Zone A — Nov. 8, 2008-Feb. 8, 2009 — Bag Limits: 3 daily, 6 in possession
–Zone B — Nov. 28, 2008-Feb. 8, 2009 — Bag Limits: 3 daily, 6 in possession
–Zone C — Dec. 20, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009 — Bag Limits: 2 daily, 4 in possession
Public comment about the waterfowl proposals will be accepted through Aug. 18. Comments should be sent by e-mail to or by regular mail to Dave Morrison, TPWD Waterfowl Program Leader, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744. Input may also be made online via the Public Comment link on the TPWD Web site home page.

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