Late Season Duck Hunts
Indiana’s waterfowl seasons are winding down. The North Zone is now closed, the Middle Zone closes Jan. 8, 2017 and the South Zone closes Jan. 15, 2017. You have no time to waste. Pack up the decoys and hit the road for your last chance at an epic duck hunt this season.
Hunting waterfowl with friends has become one of my favorite outdoor activities in recent years. I wasn’t born into duck hunting, like I was deer and small game hunting. I’ve had a lot to learn, and I’ve enjoyed doing so a little later in life compared to most of my outdoor passions. What draws me to duck hunting most is the level of camaraderie among hunters. You’re literally in it together when sharing a blind.
One of my favorite late season duck hunts was with a friend who assured me there wouldn’t be much action until later in the morning. He was right. We spent the early morning hours filling up on biscuits and gravy, and downing a pot of coffee. We didn’t pull into the parking area of where we were hunting until well after sunrise. Then we took our time layering up and sorting gear. As soon as we neared the hole we were hunting ducks began lifting out.
Nothing happened until about 11 a.m., when groups of two or three began filtering back in. After limiting on mallards, we focused on rounding our total duck limit with teal. As we waited on teal, hundreds of mallards worked our decoys. Sitting in the blind as green heads landed all around was an experience I’ll never forget.
The north border of the Central Zone is from the Illinois border along State Road 18 to U.S. 31; north along U.S. 31 to U.S. 24; east along U.S. 24 to Huntington; southeast along U.S. 224; south along State Road 5; and east along State Road 124 to the Ohio border. The south border of the Central Zone is from the Illinois border along U.S. 40; south along U.S. 41; east along State Road 58; south along State Road 37 to Bedford; and east along U.S. 50 to the Ohio border. The South Zone is everything south of this line.
Bag limits for ducks are a little complicated. The daily bag limit is six total. But those six have restrictions. You can limit on, meaning you can shoot six of any species or six of any combination, of goldeneyes, ruddy ducks, ring-necked ducks, buffleheads, gadwalls, long-tailed ducks, scoters, teal, wigeon and shovelers. But here is where it becomes a little more complicated. You can only have four mallards, and not more than two of the four may be females. You can only have three wood ducks, three scaup, two pintails, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one black duck and one mottled duck. You can come up with countless ways of reaching a limit of six.
If you like to shoot and have no taste buds, then the daily bag limit for coots is 15. Also, mergansers do not count towards a duck limit. They have a separate limit of five, but not more than two can be hooded mergansers. The possession limit for ducks, coots and mergansers is three times the daily bag limit. Some DNR properties may have special regulations, but general shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Late season duck hunts aren't for the faint of heart but for those willing to try, it can provide some of the most memorable hunting of your life.