Hunting season dates for ducks, mergansers and coots will again be the same this year in Zones 1 and 2, which make up all of Oklahoma except for the Panhandle.
The 2021-22 duck season runs from Nov. 13-28 and Dec. 4 to Jan. 30, 2022, except for the three Panhandle counties.
“Hunters can look forward to another robust flight of ducks this season,” said James Morel, waterfowl biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Even though duckling production in the northern breeding habitats was poor due to extreme drought conditions in the spring and summer, overall numbers of ducks are still well above long-term averages and will provide ample hunting opportunity.” He said goose numbers also remain above long-term averages.
“Waterfowl habitat and wetland conditions across the state vary from extremely good to poor. Water availability is limited in the western part of the state and some places in the northeast, though surface water availability can change overnight with precipitation.”
Forage production for waterfowl was good this past year in the natural wetlands and stock ponds, but prolonged flooding during the germination period resulted in poor forage at the large reservoirs and river systems, Morel said.
The midseason split will last five days this season; from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, waterfowl hunting will be closed. The shorter split allows additional weekend days for hunting ducks and geese, and allows duck season to open later, which many hunters said they preferred. More than 5,600 waterfowl hunters responded to a comprehensive ODWC survey conducted in late 2018. The survey showed that many hunters were in favor of opening duck season later than in previous years, and they wanted more weekend days along with the Thanksgiving holiday to be included in duck season.)
As a bonus, all youths, active-duty military members and military veterans may take advantage of early duck hunting on Saturday, Nov. 6, in Zones 1 and 2. Youths must be 15 or younger and accompanied by an adult.
Duck hunters may take six ducks combined each day, but no more than five mallards (only two may be hens); three wood ducks; two redheads; two canvasbacks; one scaup; and one pintail.
Statewide hunting for light geese and dark geese (except white-fronted geese) opens Nov. 6, a week earlier than duck season. Hunters may harvest eight dark geese daily and 50 light geese daily. These goose seasons close Nov. 29 and reopen from Dec. 4-Feb. 13, 2022.
Duck hunting in the Panhandle opened Oct. 9 and will run to Jan. 5, 2022. Another special waterfowl hunting day for youths, veterans and active military members will be Feb. 5, 2022.
“Overall, because most ducks and geese migrating into the state this year will be adults, hunters may see a little more difficulty enticing these wary birds into their spreads. But the abundance of ducks will be noticeable. Habitat conditions are average across the state and will provide abundant places for both ducks and hunters to go,” Morel said.
HACKBERRY FLAT Wildlife Management Area south of Frederick is a popular waterfowl hunting destination, but needed infrastructure work will curtail waterfowl hunting this year on the WMA.
During summer 2021, the WMA underwent a major and much-needed overhaul of several wetland units. A total of 23 different water control structures were pulled out and replaced with new structures, including all-aluminum piping that will last significantly longer than the original steel structures.
Over the long term, these structures will restore the ability to move water efficiently on and off 15 different wetland units in the core of the management area. In the short term, through this fall and winter, these areas will be dry while the dirt is allowed to settle and pack in around the structures with natural rainfall in the coming months. Managers are also working to establish vegetation along the newly disturbed dikes to ensure they don’t suffer from water or wind erosion.
COMPLETE REGULATIONS and license requirements are found in the Oklahoma Fishing and Hunting Regulations available at www.wildlifedepartment.com, in the Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app for Apple and Android, or in print free from license dealers statewide.
To get the required licenses for waterfowl hunting, go to https://license.gooutdoorsoklahoma.com/Licensing/CustomerLookup.aspx.