Commission Endorses Hunter’s Choice for Duck Season

Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701,

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AUSTIN, Texas — The Hunter’s Choice bag limit received endorsement from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Aug. 24 public hearing and gives Texas waterfowlers more latitude during the entire season in exchange for a reduction to the daily bag limit from six to five birds.

Texas will join four other states in the Central Flyway with the Hunter’s Choice bag limit starting with the 2006–07 season. As part of the Federal Framework adopted this summer, the Hunters Choice experiment option will be in effect for the next few years.

With many duck species having maintained or increased their numbers during the last decade, the Service has granted states in the Central Flyway a liberal package framework for determining hunting regulations. But, there have been caveats.

Over the past several waterfowl seasons concerns for certain species of ducks have led the Service to take steps to restrict harvest. Those precautionary measures have resulted in complex and confusing regulations, such as “seasons within the season” on some species important to Texas, like pintails.

TPWD officials say the Hunter’s Choice alleviates the need for seasons within a season, while providing both protection of certain ducks and season length opportunity for hunters. Five states in the Central Flyway will continue to operate under the 39-day season within a season framework for pintails and canvasbacks

The Hunter’s Choice allows hunters to shoot five ducks daily, but only one in the aggregate category of certain less abundant species that include either a pintail, or a canvasback, or a “dusky duck” (mottled, black duck or Mexican-like duck) or a hen mallard. As in past years, hunters may take two wood ducks, two redheads, or two scaup. Species such as mallard drakes, teal, gadwall, wigeon, and shoveler are not restricted within the 5-bird limit.

The Hunter’s Choice will not affect the early teal season in Texas, set for Sept. 9–24 with a daily bag limit of four.

The general duck season length will be the same as last year and is as follows.

South Zone —Youth-only season is Oct. 28–29 and the regular season is Nov. 4–26 and Dec. 9—Jan. 28.

North Zone — The season structure is identical to last year, simply adjusted for the calendar shift. Duck season dates are Nov. 4–26 and Dec. 9–Jan. 28. The youth-only season is Oct. 28–29.

High Plains Mallard Management Unit — The HPMMU offers one of the longest duck hunting seasons in the nation. Youth-only season is set for Oct. 21–22 and Oct. 28–29 and Nov. 3–Jan. 28 for the regular season.

The daily bag limit for all ducks is five and may include no more than two redheads, two scaup, two wood ducks, and one aggregate duck. The aggregate category includes pintail, canvasback, “dusky duck” (mottled, black duck or Mexican-like duck) and hen mallard. Once a hunter has taken one duck from the aggregate category, all ducks in the aggregate category are off limits for that day.

As for geese, TPWD is proposing a season similar to last year.

Eastern Goose Zone — White-fronted geese: Nov. 4–Jan. 14; Canada and Light Goose: Nov. 4–Jan. 28.The daily bag limit is three Canada, two white-fronted and 20 light geese.

Western Goose Zone — Nov. 4–Feb. 6 with a daily bag limit of three Canada, one white-fronted and 20 light geese.

The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit for Canada and white-fronted geese and no possession limit for “light geese.”

The Light Goose Conservation Order will start at the close of the regular goose seasons and run through March 25 in both zones. This allows relaxed regulations to hunt through various atypical means in order to control light goose overpopulation that has caused damage to Canadian habitat.