General season will run through Jan. 31
North Carolina’s waterfowl hunters can begin making plans for the 2019-20 seasons. The NCWRC set the dates and made some other changes in its April 26 meeting. A few changes are notable.
One of the biggest changes involves the mallard bag limit, which has been lowered to two mallards, with no more than one hen mallard. This change is due to a long-term decline in the numbers of mallards that traverse the Atlantic Flyway, according to federal guidelines.
A second change is the ending date of the general duck hunting season. For many years, federal regulations required that each state ended their general duck hunting season no later than the last Sunday in January. But that guideline has changed to allow an end date of Jan. 31.
A third change is the reduction in hunting days for Atlantic brant. Brant are not widespread in North Carolina. They are found along the Outer Banks area in Dare and Hyde counties. Federal guidelines call for shortening the brant season from 60 days to 30 days. North Carolina hunters will be limited to killing one brant per day during the 30-day season.
The General Duck Seasons for 2019-20 are as follows:
Oct. 2 – Oct. 5, 2019
Nov. 16 – Dec. 2, 2019
Dec. 14 – Jan. 31, 2020
No black ducks may be taken until Nov. 23.
During the General Duck Seasons, the daily bag limit will include a total of 6 ducks with no more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders, 4 long-tailed ducks, 2 mallards with no more than 1 hen mallard, 3 wood ducks, 2 scaup, 2 redheads, 2 canvasbacks, 2 black ducks, 2 pintails, 1 mottled duck, and 1 fulvous whistling duck. The season on harlequin ducks is closed, and black ducks and mottled ducks is closed until Nov. 23.
Seasons for mergansers and coots are the same as the General Duck Seasons. The daily limit for mergansers is 5 with no more than 2 hooded mergansers. The limit for coots is 15 per day.
September Teal season, which includes green-winged, blue-winged, and cinnamon teal, is Sept. 12 – Sept. 30, 2019. The daily limit is 6 teal.
Sea Duck Season (in the special sea duck area) is Nov. 23 – Jan. 31, 2020. The daily limit is 5 sea ducks with no more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders, and 4 long-tailed ducks.
Special restrictions apply to sea ducks
Federal guidelines restrict the taking of sea ducks to a maximum of 60 days. Therefore, during some seasons and locations, sea ducks may not be taken. Those include the following:
Oct. 2 – Oct. 5 & Nov. 16 – Nov. 22: During these time periods, sea ducks cannot be taken in the special sea duck area, but can be taken everywhere else. The same general bag limit applies. And ducks other than sea ducks may be taken during these times in the special sea duck area.
Dec. 3 – Dec. 13: Sea ducks can be taken only in the special sea duck area, and cannot be taken in other areas. The special sea duck bag limit applies (5 sea ducks with no more than 4 scoters, 4 long-tailed ducks, and 4 eiders.
Nov. 23 – Dec. 2 & Dec. 14 – Jan. 31: Sea ducks can be taken anywhere. When hunting in the special sea duck area, that limit applies. When hunting elsewhere, the general bag limit applies.
Shooting hours for all waterfowl seasons are 1/2-hour before sunrise until sunset, except when posted otherwise.
Youth waterfowl hunting dates are Feb. 1 & Feb. 8, 2020. Veterans/Military waterfowl hunting dates are also Feb. 1 & Feb. 8, 2020.