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Idaho delays opening of duck season

Wood duck males are among the most colorful of North American waterfowl.  (Dan Pelle)
Wood duck males are among the most colorful of North American waterfowl. (Dan Pelle)

While duck and goose populations are in good shape for Inland Northwest hunters this season, Idaho Panhandle waterfowlers will have to wait an extra week for opening day.

Both the youth hunt and the general duck and goose seasons will open later than in the past based on Idaho surveys indicating hunters preferred late-season hunting.

The youth waterfowl season for hunters 15 and younger is set for Saturday-Sunday. Goose, duck, coot and snipe are all open this weekend.

The first phase of the general waterfowl season opens the following weekend in a tiny portion of the state, but not in North Idaho. Waterfowl areas numbers have been changed. The Panhandle Region, which has been in Area 1 in the past, is now in Area 2:

• Area 1 includes the Fort Hall Indian Reservation and adjacent areas in southeastern Idaho.

• Area 2, which includes the rest of the state, opens for general waterfowling on Oct. 13.

“This is a tradeoff hunters preferred in a random survey we did last year,” said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d’Alene.

Early October provides the best hunting for locally produced waterfowl, and especially for wood ducks and teal that depart the region early, Hayden acknowledged.

“When we asked waterfowlers, the overwhelming response was to devote more of the allotted season days to the late end of the season.”

The daily limit for Idaho waterfowlers is seven ducks, which may include no more than one canvasback, two pintails, two redheads or two mallard hens. Goose hunters are allowed four dark geese.

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