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Friday, August 23, 2013
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has finalized all hunting dates for the upcoming season.
With a vote Thursday, the agency's board of directors approved migratory waterfowl hunting season dates.
Those seasons are always the last ones to be finalized because the agency must wait for guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which provides a framework to which state agencies must adhere.
As usual, the duck season will be broken into three segments.
The first season will run Oct. 10 through 14. That window starts on a Thursday, totaling four hunting days due to the no-Sunday-hunting law in Virginia.
The next segment will run for 13 days, stretching over the final two weeks of November. The specific dates are Nov. 16 through 30.
The 45-day final segment will open Dec. 7 and run through Jan. 25.
While duck seasons typically don't generate much public feedback, this year was an exception.
Some hunters had been vocal in suggesting an alteration from the normal approach. They were hoping for three weeks of hunting in November, instead of the normal two weeks of hunting in November, before the balance of the season started after a break the first week in December.
Such a change would have required sacrificing a week later in the season.
While the movement had some momentum, the agency's staff felt strongly that the traditional system is working well, and the board agreed with that approach.
The youth waterfowl days, for adult-accompanied hunters 15 and younger , will be Oct. 26 and Feb. 1.
As usual, black ducks will be off limits during the October segment.
Species-specific limitations on the daily bag limit of six include a maximum of four mallards, only two of which may be hens, three wood ducks, four scoters, two scaup and two redheads.
The possession limit has been increased to three times the daily bag limit.
Gary Costanzo, the DGIF biologist who oversees the state's migratory game bird program, said waterfowl populations are generally strong.
"I don't want to say it, but duck numbers look really good," Costanzo said.
His hesitation comes from experience.
Last year produced record numbers of ducks during the breeding season. However, hunting in Virginia was generally poor.
The problem was that, while there were plenty of ducks, few of them actually ended up in Virginia due to mild weather conditions.
This was another great year for duck production. But there's no assurance that weather patterns will line up in such a way to push big bunches of those migrating ducks into Virginia air space.
"Ducks have been really hard to predict due to recent mild winter weather," Costanzo said.
The board also established the season dates for Canada geese, in addition to the already determined early season for resident geese.
Virginia is divided into three goose hunting zones, based on migration patterns.
Because a relatively small number of migrants end up in Western Virginia, that area is known as the Resident Population zone and includes the most liberal regulations.
This year's season will be broken into two segments. The first is Nov. 16 through 30, and the second is Dec. 7 through Feb. 22.
The daily bag limit is five birds during both of those segments.
Dates in the central part of Virginia, in what's called the Southern James Bay zone, are Nov. 16 through 30 and Dec. 14 through Feb. 15. The bag limit is three per day through Jan. 14, with the limit climbing to five per day starting Jan. 15, after which time few migrants are left in that area.
The Atlantic zone, along the coast, runs Nov. 16 through 30, with a daily limit of two.
Full waterfowl season details, as well as licensing requirements, can be found at www.huntfishva.com.
Franklin County JAKES
The Franklin County Longbeards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will host the club's 14th annual version of its national award-winning JAKES youth event Saturday at Waid Recreation Area outside Rocky Mount.
For children 17 and younger , the free event will include a number of activities and demonstrations, including archery, rock climbing, airgun shooting, canoeing and an obstacle course.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the event runs to 3 p.m. Lunch is included for JAKES participants. The lunch cost for parents and non-participating children is $2. Children 10 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
The event also includes a trap shooting and turkey calling event this evening for youth 11 to 17 at the Franklin County Gun Club. The shoot starts at 5 p.m.
For more information, contact Jack Watts at 521-9594, Jon Holcomb at 420-4988, or Billy Thurman at 483-2732 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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