The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) has set the migratory game bird hunting seasons for 2023-24. As such, there are a few significant changes from last season.
The initial change increases the season length for Canada geese in the Atlantic Population Zone from 30 to 45 days and increases the bag limit from one to three per day. According to PGC Wildlife Operation Division Chief Ian Gregg, “The Population of Canada geese had experienced declines as a result of a decade of below-average reproduction including a nearly complete failure in 2018. However, gosling production more recently has been relatively good and the population has increased accordingly.”
The other significant change increases the mallard duck bag limit from two, to include no more than one hen, to four, which can include no more than two hens. Again, Gregg goes on to say “After a few years of the reduced bag limits, the mallard population increased slightly and a new population model was implemented.”
In addition to these changes, calendar shifts resulted in small changes to the Resident Population Canada Goose season. The Resident Population Canada Goose season saw a week shift from October into January.
The last change was to Atlantic Brant seasons, which saw a reduction in bag limit from two to one, and a reduction in season length to 30 days because of population declines. However, Gregg points out that few brant are harvested in Pennsylvania as most of them are on Lake Erie.
The PGC asks hunters to report banded ducks, geese, doves and woodcock and to do so online at www.reportband.gov. Hunters will be requested to provide information on where, when and what species of migratory birds were taken, in addition to the band number. This information is crucial to the successful management of migratory birds and in setting hunting regulations. Last year, more than 6,000 migratory game birds, including more than 5,000 waterfowl were banded in Pennsylvania.
The PGC in cooperation with other wildlife management agencies monitor migratory bird populations. Reporting banded game birds also allows the opportunity to learn about the bird they harvested says the PGC.
Locally, the duck, coot and merganser hunting seasons in the North Zone will run Oct. 7-21 and Nov. 14-Jan. 6. In the South Zone, the season will run Oct. 7-24 and Nov. 21-Jan. 20.
The bag limits here are 6 daily of any species, except for the following restrictions: daily limit may not include more than 4 mallards including no more than 2 hen mallards, 2 black ducks, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 1 pintail, 4 sea ducks including no more than 3 eiders and no more than 1 female eider, 3 long-tailed ducks, and 3 scooters.
For Resident Population Goose Zone, all of Pennsylvania except for the Atlantic Population zone, Sept. 1-25 (8 goose daily limit); and Oct. 28 – Nov. Nov. 24, Dec. 11 – Jan. 20, and Feb. 24 (5 goose daily bag limit in latter 3 segments).
For the Atlantic Population Zone that has a long list of boundaries, the seasons are Sept. 1-25 (8 goose daily limit); and Nov. 18-24 and Dec. 7- Jan. 20 (3 goose daily limit).
Light Geese (Snow geese and Ross geese) in the Atlantic Population Zone and regular season will run Oct. 2 – Jan. 27 with 25 daily limit and no possession limit. For the Conservation Order, it’s Jan. 29 – April 26 with a 25 daily limit, no possession limit.
For the Resident Population Zone, the season runs Oct. 24 – Feb. 24 with 25 daily limit, no possession limit. For the Conservation Order. Feb. 26 – April 26 with a 25 daily limit and a no possession limit.
As for dove season, the annual traditional small game season opener, the season will run Sept. 1 – Nov. 24 and from Dec. 19 – Jan. 6.
LEHIGH RIVER TROUT TOURNAMENT
The Lehigh River Stocking Association (LRSA) is hosting a Lehigh River Trout Fishing Tournament from May 20 to June 26, 2023 in a limited section of the Lehigh. LRSA will stock a truck load of big trout many of which will be tagged for prizes at the end of the tournament. The official site is at Riverview Park, East Penn Township boat ramp. For details check www.lrsa.org or call 610-730-9359.
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.