NCWRC sets 2020-21 migratory game bird seasons

migratory bird
North Carolina's 2020-21 migratory game bird seasons have been set.

Time to plan out your migratory bird hunts

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has listed the season dates, bag limits and applicable regulations for the 2020-21 waterfowl, webless migratory game bird (including doves), and extended falconry seasons.

Selected seasons also will be published in the 2020-21 Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest.

While many seasons remain unchanged, some notable changes are:

  • In response to a decrease in the estimated number of Eastern Population Tundra Swans, the number of available swan hunting permits allocated to North Carolina will be reduced from 6,115 to 4,895.
  • During the open portions of the general duck season, the bag limit for scaup will be one scaup daily from Oct 7-Jan. 7, and two scaup daily from Jan. 8-30.
  • Brant hunting will run concurrently with the last segment of the general duck hunting season (Dec. 19-Jan. 30) with a one-brant daily bag limit.
  • Beginning in the 2020-21 hunting season, the federal framework season ending date for rails, gallinules and moorhens has changed from the last Sunday in January to Jan. 31.

Read a more detailed overview of the important changes to the 2020-21 seasons.

Dove and Other Webless Migratory Game Birds:

Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag

Mourning Dove & White-winged dove September 5 – October 10, 2020,
November 14 – November 28, 2020,
December 12, 2020 – January 30, 2021
15
Includes mourning doves or white-winged doves either singly or in the aggregate
King & Clapper Rails September 1 – November 20, 2020 15
Includes king or clapper rails either singly or in the aggregate
Sora & Virginia Rails September 1 – November 20, 2020 25
Includes sora or Virginia rails either singly or in the aggregate
Gallinule & Moorhens September 1 – November 20, 2020 15
Includes gallinules or moorhens either singly or in the aggregate
Woodcock  December 10, 2020 – January 30, 2021 3
Common Snipe  October 27, 2020 – February 27, 2021 8

Ducks, Mergansers, & Coots

Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag

General Duck Season October 7 – October 10, 2020,

November 7 – November 28, 2020,

December 19, 2020 – January 30, 2021

Includes a total of 6 ducks with no more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders, 4 long-tailed ducks, 3 wood ducks, 2 mallards with no more than 1 hen mallard, 2 redheads, 2 canvasbacks, 2 black ducks, 1 pintail, 1 mottled duck and 1 fulvous whistling duck.

  • Prior to January 8 the scaup bag limit is 1, on January 8 and after it is 2.
  • The season on harlequin ducks is closed.
  • The season on black ducks and mottled ducks is closed until November 21.
 Mergansers  Same as general duck season 5 mergansers with no more than 2 hooded mergansers
 Coots  Same as general duck season 15 coots
 September Teal (includes green-winged, blue-winged and cinnamon teal) September 12 – September 30, 2020
(East of U.S. 17)
6
 Special Sea Duck Season (in the special sea duck area) November 23, 2020 – January 30, 2021 5 sea ducks with no more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders and 4 long-tailed ducks

Canada Goose, Light Goose, Brant & Tundra Swan

Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag

Canada Goose
(September season)
September 1 – 30, 2020 (statewide)

Expanded hunting methods are allowed only during the September season AND only in the area west of U.S. Highway 17. The expanded methods include:

  • Extended shooting hours to ½ hour past sunset
  • Use of unplugged guns
  • Use of electronic calls
15
Canada Geese (Resident Population Zone) – includes  White-fronted geese October 7 – October 17, 2020,
November 7 – November 28, 2020,
December 19, 2020 – February 13, 2021
5 Canada geese or White-fronted geese either singly or in the aggregate
Canada Geese (Northeast Hunt Zone) – includes White-fronted geese January 15 – January 30, 2021  1 Canada goose or 1 White-fronted goose with a valid permit (unlimited point of sale permits available)
Brant December 19, 2020 – January 30, 2021 1
Light Geese (includes snow and Ross’s geese) – regular season October 13, 2020 – February 13, 2021 25 (no possession limit)
Light Geese (includes snow and Ross’s geese) – Conservation Order season February 15 – March 31, 2021 (by permit only)

Expanded hunting methods are allowed and include:

  • Extended shooting hours to ½ hour past sunset
  • Use of unplugged guns
  • Use of electronic calls
  •  no daily bag limit
  •  no possession limit
Tundra Swan November 7, 2020 – January 30, 2021 1 per season with valid permit

  • Possession limits are three times the daily bag unless otherwise specified
  • Shooting hours are ½ hour before sunrise until sunset unless otherwise specified

The taking of sea ducks (scoter, eider and long-tailed ducks), except during the regular duck season shall be limited to 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. Special sea duck bag limits and seasons apply in these areas.

Because sea ducks are limited to 60 days of hunting exposure in any area, there will be certain dates and locations where sea ducks may or may not be taken. Please see the following:

General Duck Season Open; Special Sea Duck Season Closed
Oct. 7-Oct 10 & Nov. 7-Nov. 21, 2020 – Sea ducks cannot be taken in the special sea duck area, but can be taken everywhere else. The general bag limit of six ducks with no more than four scoters, four long-tailed ducks and four eiders applies. Although sea ducks may not be taken in the special sea duck area during this time, other ducks may be taken in this area.

General Duck Season Closed; Special Sea Duck Season Open
Nov. 30-Dec. 18, 2020 – 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 applies and consists of five sea ducks with no more than four scoters, four long-tailed ducks and four eiders.

General Duck Season Open; Special Sea Duck Season Open
Nov. 23-Nov. 28, 2020 & Dec 19, 2020-Jan 30, 2021 – Sea ducks can be taken anywhere. Hunters should remember that the special sea duck limit applies when hunting in the special sea duck area and the general bag limit applies when hunting in all other areas. When both seasons overlap, the special sea duck bag limit may be in addition to the limits applying to other ducks.

  • Possession limits are three times the daily bag unless otherwise specified
  • Shooting hours are ½ hour before sunrise until sunset unless otherwise specified

State will be split into Coastal and Inland duck zones

The Commission also announced its intention to establish two state duck hunting zones beginning in the 2021-2022 hunting season. Interstate 95 will form the boundary between the Coastal and Inland duck zones. Up to three season segments are allowed within each zone. The number of season segments, up to the allowable, and season dates within zones can change annually. Federal frameworks require these duck hunting zones to remain in place through the 2025-2026 season. For the 2021-2022 season, the Commission will set season dates within each zone at its April 2021 meeting.

For more information on migratory game bird hunting in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s What to Hunt page.

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the sales counter at the Wildlife Commission’s headquarters in Raleigh is closed. We encourage the public to visit our website, www.ncwildlife.org, to purchase fishing, trapping and hunting licenses and to renew a vessel registration. The Commission’s License, Vessel Registration, and Wildlife Helpline Call Centers are open from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. For the most up-to-date information on agency-related closures, cancellations and postponements visit ncwildlife.org/covid19.

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