Florida waterfowl hunters take note. The special early duck season for wood ducks and teal is Sept. 25-29.
The bag limit is four ducks per day, but only two of the birds can be wood ducks. The bag limits apply for the early season only.
Few waterfowl hunters may be aware how this early, five-day season came to be.
According to Joe Benedict, Waterfowl Management Program Coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), biologists from the then-Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission’s Division of Wildlife took blood samples from hundreds of wood ducks in the 1980s to demonstrate that wood ducks found in Florida in September are birds raised in the South and not migrating northern birds.
Biologists knew that northern-raised wood ducks, particularly those from the northeastern states, have blood parasites not usually seen in Southern wood ducks.
“Staff biologists were able to demonstrate to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that shooting Florida wood ducks during the early season did not impact female survival rates and, as a result, was not likely to impact our resident wood duck population,” Benedict said. “So, the five-day early season was granted.”
Hunters must use steel shot or other federally approved nontoxic shot during the special early duck season and the later fall season.