In a first for waterfowl season dates, bag limits, and regulations, the NCWRC has already announced these details for the upcoming 2016-17 waterfowl, webless migratory bird, and extended falconry seasons.

These new dates, which include doves, can be found here.

In years past, the announcement of these seasons was split into two sessions. This always resulted in last-minute planning by waterfowl and migratory hunters and outfitters, so this is sure to be a welcome change for anyone involved in bird hunting, who can go ahead and make necessary plans now for their waterfowl and other bird hunting throughout the entire 2016-17 seasons.

The NCWRC would like to point out that this upcoming season features some significant changes, especially regarding sea duck hunting, brant season, and youth waterfowl hunting.

One big change concerning the special sea duck season is that it has been shortened from 107 days to 60 days. The season will run from Nov. 21 through Jan. 28, and during this time, sea ducks can be hunted in the special sea duck area, which is defined as the “waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and to those coastal waters south of U.S. 64 that are separated by a distance of at least 800 yards of open water from any shore, island, or marsh.”

The bag limit for sea ducks during the special season within the sea duck area has also been reduced. A five-duck limit will be in place, and this limit can include no more than four scoters, four long-tailed ducks, and four eiders.

The general duck season will overlap with sea duck season, but there will be a period during the general duck season when sea ducks cannot be hunted in the special sea duck areas.

During these dates (Oct. 5 – Oct. 8, and Nov. 12 – Nov. 19), the general duck season is open, but the special sea duck season is closed, and sea ducks cannot be taken in the special sea duck area, but can be taken everywhere else. The general bag limit of six ducks applies, with no more than four scoters, four long-tailed ducks, and four eiders. While the special sea duck area is closed to sea ducks during these dates, other ducks may be harvested in the special sea duck area.

From Dec. 5 through Dec. 16, general duck season is closed, but special duck season is open. During this time, sea ducks can be taken only in the special sea duck area, and cannot be taken in other locations. The special sea duck bag limit of five sea ducks (no more than four scoters, four long-tailed ducks, and four eiders) applies.

From Nov. 21 through Dec. 3, and from Dec. 17 through Jan. 28, the general duck season is open, and the special sea duck season is open. During this time, sea ducks can be taken anywhere. The special sea duck limit applies when hunting within the special sea duck area, and the general bag limit applies – even for sea ducks – when hunting elsewhere. Also, when the seasons overlap, the special sea duck bag limit may be in addition to the limits applying to other ducks.

The brant season for 2016-17 will run from Dec. 17 through Jan. 28, and will include a one-bird daily limit.

Special Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days for the 2016-17 season have been set for Feb. 4 and Feb. 11, 2017, and unlike years past when only youth under the age of 16 could participate, youth hunters aged 16 and 17 are allowed to hunt on these dates.

For youth hunters under the age of 16 who hold a valid hunter education certification, they must be accompanied on youth days by an adult of at least 18. For youth under the age of 16 with no hunter education certification, they must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult at least 18-years-old. For youth aged 16 or 17, they must be properly licensed themselves, must be HIP certified and have a federal duck stamp, and must be accompanied by an adult at least 18-years-old.

For more information on migratory game birds in North Carolina, click here.