By Steve Hickoff
The waterfowl regular season opener will be here before you know it. Fact is, early resident goose and teal opportunities are already underway in some parts of the country. Before you set foot in a marsh blind or settle into a layout boat, you’ve got to get your paperwork right.
Is a regular hunting license required or can you just buy one for designated days to hunt waterfowl? If you can do the latter by law, it’s often much cheaper. Tip: Check into it.
FEDERAL DUCK STAMP
The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp is required by law to hunt waterfowl. While sometimes local post offices carry them, as well as major hunting and fishing outlets, you can also get more information online: http://www.fws.gov/duckstamps/stamps.htm Tip: A duck stamp must also be signed across the face if you’re waterfowl hunting. Don’t forget.
In their words, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.) to develop “... more reliable estimates of the number of all migratory birds harvested throughout the country. These estimates give biologists the information they need to make sound decisions concerning hunting seasons, bag limits, and population management.” I was recently asked to report on New Hampshire snipe hunting, for instance. Waterfowl hunters are also sometimes queried to fill out short forms on their previous season’s take before buying a new waterfowl stamp/license. The method varies. Tip: Some states require you to call in or apply online for an H.I.P. number, which you can then carry or write on your license. Some simply get information via a state duck stamp/license.
STATE DUCK STAMP/LICENSE
Even if you’ve purchased a Federal duck stamp, you may also need to buy a stamp or additional waterfowl license for the state you’re hunting. Tip: Some states on the other hand don’t require one at all. Be sure to check your state waterfowl regulations for other required fees as well.
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE PERMIT
As mentioned in my previous Yamaha Outdoors post, National Wildlife Refuges sometimes require permit purchases to hunt ducks and geese, as well as woodcock and snipe. Yes, it’s an additional expense, but the money will not only provide needed habitat for the birds we love, but also give you access to hunting areas you not only technically have an ownership stake in, but might also enjoy as part of our tradition.