The waterfowl hunting season that includes hooded mergansers like the one above runs from Nov. 21-29 and from Dec. 12-Jan. 31. The daily bag limit on hooded mergansers is 2. (Photo/Terry Johnson)

The waterfowl hunting season that includes hooded mergansers like the one above runs from Nov. 21-29 and from Dec. 12-Jan. 31. The daily bag limit on hooded mergansers is 2. (Photo/Terry Johnson)

Although Monroe County waterfowl hunters have enjoyed hunting teal and geese during abbreviated seasons held earlier this year, what is often referred to as THE real duck and goose season opens this weekend.

The remainder of the 2020-21 Waterfowl Season is separated into two segments. The first phase runs from Nov. 21 - 29.  The final portion of the season opens Dec. 12 and does not close until Jan. 31.

This year the daily bag limit for ducks is six. In comparison, the possession limit is 18. The possession limit is simply the number of birds a hunter can possess at any one time in his or her home or elsewhere.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has mandated that a hunter’s daily bag limit cannot consist of more than 1 black and mottled duck (a total of 3 of both species in possession), 2 canvasbacks (6 in possession), fulvous whistling duck (3 in possession), two mallards (only one can be a hen),  [6 in possession (only 3 may be hens)], 1 pintail (3 in possession), 2 redheads (6 in possession), 1 scaup (3 in possession), 3 wood ducks (9 in possession, 4 long-tailed ducks (12 in possession), 4 eiders (12 in possession), blue and green-winged teal 5 (18 in possession), 5 common and red-breasted mergansers (15 in possession), 2 hooded mergansers (6 in possession),  and 4 scoters (12 in possession).

The daily bag limit for Canada, white-fronted and snow geese is 5 (15 in possession). 

Local waterfowl hunters often encounter American coots while hunting ducks and geese. With that in mind, keep in mind the daily bag limit for coots is 15 (45 in possession).

Shooting hours extend from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Do not forget that you cannot hunt waterfowl with lead shot.  In fact hunters cannot even have any lead shot in their possession while waterfowl hunting.  Instead, waterfowl hunters with shells loaded federally approved nontoxic shot size “F” or smaller.

In addition, shotguns must be plugged with a one-piece plug so that a gun cannot hold more than 3 shells (magazine and chamber combined).

Peach State waterfowlers must possess a current hunting license, Georgia Waterfowl and Migratory Bird Stamp and a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp (commonly referred to as a federal duck stamp) to legally hunt ducks and geese.

If you plan on hunting on the Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area, you can do so only east of Ebenezer Road. This area includes Lake Juliette.Waterfowl hunting is allowed Wednesday through Sunday only during the state waterfowl season.

In a major departure from statewide waterfowl hunting hours, on the Rum Creek WMA hunting hours extend from one-half hour before sunrise to noon.

In recent years, changes in Georgia’s hunting regulations that permit hunters to hunt white-tailed deer and hogs over bait have led to some confusion as to whether or not it is legal to hunt ducks and geese over bait. The truth of the matter is it is illegal to hunt waterfowl over bait. Consequently, hunters that do so are violating both state and federal hunting regulations.

For more information regarding federal regulations relating to waterfowl hunting, check Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20 as www.gpo.gov.

Additional information relating to Georgia waterfowl hunting opportunities and regulations can be found in the 2020-21 edition of the Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations Guide. The guide is available at your local license dealer and online at wwe.GoHuntGeorgia.com.

 

Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column ‘Monroe Outdoors’ for the Reporter for many years. His book, “A Journey to Discovery,” is available at The Reporter. Email him at tjwoodduck@bellsouth.net.