Waterfowl hunting in Iowa takes off

By the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources 

Slightly cooler temperatures this week will be a welcome development for waterfowl hunters who have several chances to hunt this fall. Here’s a breakdown of Iowa’s waterfowl seasons: 
North Zone

  • Ducks, Mergansers, Coots: Sept. 23-Oct. 1, and Oct. 14-Dec. 3
  • Canada Geese, Brant, White-fronted Geese: Sept. 23-Oct. 8, and Oct. 14-Jan. 1, 2018

South Zone

  • Ducks, Mergansers, Coots: Sept. 30-Oct. 4, and Oct. 21-Dec. 14
  • Canada Geese, Brant, White-fronted Geese: Sept. 30-Oct. 8, and Oct. 21-Jan. 15, 2018

 Missouri River Zone

  • Ducks, Mergansers, Coots: Oct. 7-8, and Oct. 21-Dec. 17
  • Canada Geese, Brant, White-fronted Geese: Oct. 7-15, and Oct. 21-Jan. 15, 2018

Wetland conditions and duck populations

Drought conditions over much of the state make scouting an important key to success for hunters. 

“There are pros and cons to hunting in drought years,” said Orrin Jones, DNR waterfowl biologist. “Cons are there’s not as many wetlands with water and it could be more difficult to access certain areas. The pros are that the birds are more concentrated. When weather conditions and birds come together, we could have the opportunity for a good season.”

Duck populations are strong and that’s good news for hunters. There are few changes to the duck bag limits from last year – the pintail duck daily bag limit has dropped to one and back duck daily bag limit has risen to two. 

Goose season

Iowa’s opening goose seasons coincide with duck seasons this year. 

“There are a lot of young birds this year which usually means goose hunters should have a great opening segment,” Jones said.

Iowa’s Canada goose population is usually highest in December with the peak occurring a little earlier in north and a little later in the south. Goose abundance is primarily influenced by weather in states to the north.

The daily bag limit for Canada geese is two. On Nov. 1, the daily bag limit increases to three.
Waterfowl band reporting

Reporting banded waterfowl changed in July when the toll free phone number printed on the bands was discontinued. The U.S. Geological Survey is responsible for the bird banding program and canceled the call center due to federal budget constraints.

To report banded ducks and geese log on to https://www.reportband.gov/BBL/. 
“Even if the bird band has a phone number on it, the only way to report it is via the website,” Jones said. “It’s a fast and easy way to report.”
Additional Season Information:

  • Migratory Gamebirds: Ducks, mergansers, coots, Canada geese, snow geese, mourning doves, woodcocks, rails and snipes. 
  • Zone Locations: Iowa has three zones. North and South zones are divided by a line starting at Interstate 29 on the IA/NE border to Hwy 175, continues to Hwy 37, then to Hwy 183 to Hwy 141, from Hwy 141 to Hwy 30, and Hwy 30 across the state. Missouri River zone is west of I-29 and north of Hwy 175.
  • Licenses Needed: Iowa hunting license, habitat fee and Iowa migratory bird fee, along with the federal duck stamp