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Harvest Information Program (HIP) Certification
Detailed Federal Regulations
A Report on the 2013 Ohio Waterfowl Hunter Survey: Summary | Full Report    


The USFWS has released a new Environmental Impact Statement on the Issuance of Annual Regulations Permitting the Hunting of Migratory Birds. The document is open for public inspection until July 1 2013. This document addresses how waterfowl regulations are set annually and recommends alternatives including a proposed action. See the full document here.

Waterfowl Hunting

Click here to get information or buy the current Federal Duck Stamp online.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sets the framework for hunting ducks, geese, and other migratory game birds. Waterfowl hunting is governed by BOTH state and federal regulations. Dates, bag limits, and waterfowl hunting zones were not available prior to the printing of this publication. Refer to Publication 295, Waterfowl Hunting Seasons, available in late September 2013 and Publication 298, Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons, available in late August 2013. for details of dates, bag limits, and zones. These publications will be available at all wildlife district offices, license agents, and online at wildohio.com prior to the season.

Waterfowl hunting, when the season is open, is also permitted during the antlerless deer muzzleloader season, the youth deer gun season, the deer gun season, and the deer muzzleloader season..

TO HUNT MIGRATORY WATERFOWL IN OHIO, YOU MUST HAVE

  • A resident hunting license, resident youth hunting license, nonresident season license, three-day non-resident tourist license, or an apprentice hunting license.
  • A printed Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp endorsement is required of all persons 18 or older.
  • HIP certification (Harvest Information Program) is required. To complete the HIP certification requirement, call 1-877-HIPOHIO (447-6446) and answer the survey questions. After the survey you will be given a certification number. Write the certification number on your hunting license in the space provided.
  • A signed federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp, required of all persons age 16 and older. Federal “Duck Stamps” are available at most post offices or online at store.usps.com or www.duckstamp.com.

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Youth Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities

Federal regulations allow hunters 15 years old or younger to hunt waterfowl statewide (public and private lands) on a Saturday and Sunday in early October.

Young hunters (17 or younger) are given priority on opening day controlled hunts. See Youth Hunting on Pages 26-28 for details.

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Summary of Federal and State Migratory Game Bird Regulations

Shooting Hours
No person shall take migratory game birds except during the hours open to shooting as prescribed.   Daily hunting hours are sunrise to sunset for the early season migratory game bird seasons.   Daily hunting hours 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset for the regular waterfowl season.

Closed Season
No person shall take migratory game birds during the closed season.

Daily Bag Limit
Daily bag limit means the maximum number of migratory game birds of a single species or combination (aggregate) of species permitted to be taken by one person in any one day during the open season in any one specified geographic area for which a daily bag limit is prescribed.

Field Possession Limit
No person shall possess more than one daily bag limit while in the field or while returning from the field to one’s car, hunting camp, home, etc.

Dual Violation
Violation of state migratory bird regulations is also a violation of federal regulations.

Hunting From Boats on Rivers
Written permission of the landowner is required by persons hunting from boats on rivers and streams when the boat is anchored, tied to the shore, or tied to any structure in the river.   It is unlawful to place decoys in the river or to go ashore to retrieve game without the written permission of the landowner.   The only exception to this law is when the river or stream passes through public property where hunting is allowed.

Pymatuning Reservoir
Waterfowl hunting on the Ohio portion of the Pymatuning Reservoir is subject to Ohio seasons and regulations.

Federal Duck Stamp
No person 16 years of age or older shall take ducks or geese without first obtaining a federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. The stamp must be validated by signature across the face in ink. A federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp is NOT required to hunt crows, doves, rails, common moorhens, common snipe, and woodcock.

Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp
This stamp is required in addition to a federal duck stamp to hunt waterfowl. An Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp is NOT required to hunt crows, doves, rails, common moorhens, common snipe, and woodcock. See the License and Permit Section for detailed information.

Waterfowl Youth

Restrictions on Taking

No person shall take migratory game birds:

  1. With a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler which limits the capacity of the gun to three shells. The filler must be such that it cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.

  2. On or over a baited area. A baited area means any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Any such area will remain a baited area for ten days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed. Hunters are responsible for ensuring that an area has not been baited and should verify its legality prior to hunting.

  3. By the use or aid of live decoys. All live, tame, or captive ducks and geese shall be removed for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to hunting, and confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such tame birds from the sight of migratory waterfowl.

  4. With any device that emits recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds. It is illegal to possess such devices while hunting waterfowl in Ohio.

  5. With a trap, snare, net, crossbow, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive, or stupefying substance. A longbow is legal.

  6. From a watercraft having a motor attached or from a sailboat, unless the motor has been shut off and/or the sails furled, and its progress therefrom has ceased.

  7. By means or aid of any motor driven land, water, or air conveyance, or any sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of any migratory bird.

  8. From or with the aid or use of a car or other motor driven land conveyance, or any aircraft, except that paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor driven land conveyance. “Paraplegic” means an individual afflicted with paralysis of the lower half of the body with involvement of both legs, usually due to disease of or injury to the spinal cord.

  9. From a sink box (a low floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water).

  10. From utility wires or buildings.

  11. It is unlawful to hunt migratory game birds (waterfowl, rails, and shorebirds) and mourning doves by the aid of baiting or on or over any baited area. The regulations that apply to the baiting of migratory game birds differ from the regulations that apply to the hunting of mourning doves. Migratory game birds may only be taken on areas where grain and other foods exist solely as a result of normal agricultural planting or harvesting. Mourning doves may be taken on areas that have been manipulated for wildlife management purposes. Neither migratory game birds nor mourning doves may be hunted on areas where grain or other feed has been distributed once it has been removed from or stored on the field where grown.   It is unlawful to hunt waterfowl over vegetation or crops that have been mowed or cut. Contact a Division of Wildlife district office or a state wildlife officer for clarification on baiting regulations before you hunt.

Reducing to Possession
Migratory birds wounded by hunting shall be immediately killed and reduced to possession and become a part of the daily bag limit. No person shall kill or cripple any migratory bird without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the bird and include it in his or her daily bag limit.

Transporting
One fully feathered wing or the head must remain attached to all migratory game birds, except doves, while being transported between the place where taken and the personal abode of the possessor or a commercial preservation facility.

Shipment
No person shall ship migratory game birds unless the package is marked on the outside with:   (1) the name and address of the person sending the birds, (2) the name and address of the person to whom the birds are being sent, and (3) the number of birds, by species, contained in the package.

Importation
For information regarding the importation of migratory game birds killed in another country, hunters should consult Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, 20.61 through 20.66.   One fully feathered wing must remain attached to all migratory game birds being transported between a port of entry and one’s home or to a migratory bird preservation facility.   No person shall import migratory game birds killed in any foreign country, except Canada, unless such birds are dressed (except as required above), drawn, and the head and feet are removed.   No person shall import migratory game birds belonging to another person.

Tagging
No person shall give, put, or leave any migratory game birds at any place or in the custody of another person unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the following information:   (1) the hunter’s signature; (2) the hunter’s address; (3) the total number of birds involved, by species; and (4) the dates such birds were killed. No person or business shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged.

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Mandatory Reporting Zones (MRZ)

Mandatory Reporting Zones for geese have been eliminated. These zones were originally created to protect local giant Canada geese from over harvest and were crucial to the reestablishment of Canada geese in Ohio. As Ohio’s goose populations grew, the need to protect local birds diminished and was replaced by a desire to protect interior birds critical to the aboriginal people in Canada, particularly the Cree First Nation.

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References

The regulations provided herein are only general information and are not the complete laws pertaining to migratory game birds.

State Regulations
The Ohio Administrative Code containing full details is available for review at the office of the Clerk of Common Pleas Court in each county.

Federal Regulations
Federal regualations relating to migratory game birds are located in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20. For additional information on federal regulations, contact Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 45, Twin Cities, Minnesota 55111.n.

Additional Information
For additional information on federal regulations, contact Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 45, Twin Cities, Minnesota 55111.

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Additional Regulations

  • Special regulations apply at many state wildlife areas, state parks, and national wildlife refuges. Additional information can be obtained by calling our district offices or by checking our website.

  • Decoys placed on state wildlife areas, or in waters of the state, must be removed at the end of each day's hunt (check with state park lakes that allow waterfowl hunting).

  • It is unlawful to construct or place a permanent blind on a state wildlife area or any other state or federal property unless approved by the chief of the Division of Wildlife. Any portable blinds placed or constructed on a state wildlife area must be removed immediately upon completion of the day’s hunt.

  • Only nontoxic shot may be used to take waterfowl, rails, snipe, and gallinules. It is unlawful to possess or use any shot other than nontoxic shot while hunting these birds.   Mourning doves and woodcock may be taken with lead shot.

  • It is unlawful to hunt migratory game birds (waterfowl, rails, shorebirds, and mourning doves) by the aid of baiting or on or over any baited area. The regulations that apply to the hunting of waterfowl differ from the regulations that apply to the hunting of mourning doves. Waterfowl may only be hunted on areas where grain and other foods exist solely as a result of normal agricultural PLANTING or HARVESTING. Mourning doves may be hunted on areas that have been manipulated (i.e., “bush hogged”) for wildlife management purposes in addition to areas that have been planted or harvested in a normal agricultural manner. Neither waterfowl nor mourning doves may be hunted on areas where grain or other feed has been distributed once it has been removed from or stored on the field where grown. Contact a Division of Wildlife district office or a state wildlife officer for clarification on baiting regulations before you hunt.

  • Waterfowl decoys with motorized wings are lawful to use as long as they do not emit recorded birdcalls or sounds.

  • It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt waterfowl at any time other than the legal starting time until twelve noon on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the duck season on portions of the Shenango, Salt Fork, and Killbuck wildlife areas when posted with division signs so stating “Waterfowl Hunting Permitted Beyond this Sign on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. During the Waterfowl Season Hours: Legal Shooting Time Until Twelve Noon."

  • The regulations provided herein are only general information and are not the complete laws pertaining to migratory game birds.

  • Special Opportunities and Regulations exist at Shenango State Wildlife Area, Killbuck Marsh, and Walborn and Deer Creek Reservoirs.

  • Report all Waterfowl and bird Bands!
    Call 1-800-327-BAND

    Bird banding programs provide wildlife biologists with valuable information on a variety of migratory birds.   Bands recovered and reported by hunters unlock important information about survival, migration, harvest rates, and distribution of waterfowl.   To report any bird band—not just bands from waterfowl or other game birds—call 1-800-327-BAND (2263) or on the Internet at www.reportband.gov. You may keep the band.

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Duck Hunting Zones

Duck Hunting Zones

Lake Erie Marsh Zone

The Lake Erie Marsh Zone begins at the intersection of Interstate 75 at the Ohio-Michigan state line and continues south to Interstate 280, then south on I-280 to the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90), then east on the Ohio Turnpike to the Erie-Lorain county line, then north to Lake Erie. The zone boundary follows the Lake Erie shoreline at a distance of 200 yards offshore. The zone boundary follows the shoreline west toward and around the northern tip of Cedar Point Amusement Park, then continues from the westernmost point of Cedar Point toward the southernmost tip of the sand bar at the mouth of Sandusky Bay and out into Lake Erie at a distance of 200 yards offshore continuing parallel to the Lake Erie shoreline north and west toward the northernmost tip of Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge, then follows a direct line toward the southernmost tip of Wood Tick peninsula in Michigan to a point that intersects the Ohio-Michigan state line, then follows the state line back to the point of the beginning (see map).

North Zone

North of I-70 excluding the Lake Erie Marsh Zone.

South Zone

South Zone: South of I-70.

 

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Lake Erie Marsh Zone

Lake Erie Marsh Zone

The Lake Erie Marsh Zone begins at the intersection of Interstate 75 at the Ohio-Michigan state line and continues south to Interstate 280, then south on I-280 to the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90), then east on the Ohio Turnpike to the Erie-Lorain county line, then north to Lake Erie. The zone boundary follows the Lake Erie shoreline at a distance of 200 yards offshore. The zone boundary follows the shoreline west toward and around the northern tip of Cedar Point Amusement Park, then continues from the westernmost point of Cedar Point toward the southernmost tip of the sand bar at the mouth of Sandusky Bay and out into Lake Erie at a distance of 200 yards offshore continuing parallel to the Lake Erie shoreline north and west toward the northernmost tip of Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge, then follows a direct line toward the southernmost tip of Wood Tick peninsula in Michigan to a point that intersects the Ohio-Michigan state line, then follows the state line back to the point of the beginning (see map).

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Goose Hunting Zones

Goose Hunting Zones

Lake Erie Canada Gooze Zone

The Lake Erie Canada Goose Zone includes all land and water north of I-80 in Trumbull, Portage, Summit, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Erie, Sandusky, and Ottawa counties, and portions of Wood and Lucas counties east of I-280 and I-75 from I-80 (near Toledo) north to the Michigan line. The Zone also includes Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties, and the open waters of Lake Erie.

North Zone

North of I-70 excluding the Lake Erie Canada Goose Zone.

South Zone

South Zone: South of I-70.

 

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Lake Erie Canada Goose Zone

Lake Erie Canada Goose Zone

The Lake Erie Canada Goose Zone includes all land and water north of I-80 in Trumbull, Portage, Summit, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Erie, Sandusky, and Ottawa counties, and portions of Wood and Lucas counties east of I-280 and I-75 from I-80 (near Toledo) north to the Michigan line. The Zone also includes Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties, and the open waters of Lake Erie.

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Falconry for Waterfowl

Legal method of take for Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, and Geese during (1) the extended early season (September 1-16, 2012), (2) the regular 60-day duck season in each of Ohio’s 3 duck zones, and (3) the extended late season (February 8 – March 10, 2013). The daily bag limit is 3 migratory game birds in the aggregate; possession limit is 6 migratory game birds in the aggregate.

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Harvest Information Program (HIP) Certification

Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification is required of all waterfowl hunters prior to hunting. Migratory game bird hunters must call 1-877-HIPOHIO (447-6446) and answer a few survey questions to complete the HIP certification requirement. Once the survey has been completed, hunters will be provided a certification number to write on their Ohio hunting license. Waterfowl hunters age 18 and older will also need a state wetland habitat stamp which may be purchased at any hunting license agent or at wildohio.com. In addition, all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older must posses a signed federal duck stamp which can be purchased at most U.S. post offices.

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