2018-10-11 / Outdoors

Hunters bag birds on first day

by Grant McPherson
of the Enterprise staff

GLEN LAKE graduates Andrew and Gabe Gutzka show their ducks from the opening day of duck season. Andrew graduated in 2012 and Gabe in 2017. GLEN LAKE graduates Andrew and Gabe Gutzka show their ducks from the opening day of duck season. Andrew graduated in 2012 and Gabe in 2017. Migrating birds are on the move, traveling through Leelanau County.

The birds are migrating down south to find food easier, and hunters such as Chris Butz of Cedar are seeing a ton of birds. Butz is a long time hunter and fisher, and owns his own area for game hunting.

“We’ve seen many woodcock in the county,” Butz said. “The woodcock numbers are high, and a lot of hunters have started to get into it. We have also seen a lot of ducks and geese with the opening of duck season.”

Duck and geese seasons opened Saturday. Duck season will last until Dec. 2, and will reopen for two days on Dec. 15 and 16.

The daily bag limit for ducks is six, however no more than four shall be mallards, no more than three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two pintails, two canvasbacks or two black ducks.

According to the DNR, in addition to the duck limit, hunters may take five mergansers, only two of which may be hooded mergansers. The possession limit is three times the daily limit for ducks and mergansers.

Dark goose, such as Canada, Brant and White-fronted geese, will run until Dec. 21. Light goose, such as Snow, Blue and Ross’s geese, will have the same timetable as dark geese.

The daily bag limit for the dark geese is five, but is raised to 20 for the light geese. The daily limit remains at five the whole season, only three can be Canada geese and one of which can be a Brant.

The possession number for dark geese is 15, and number for light geese will be 60 for the season.

“I would say I’ve seen a lot more geese,” Butz said. “With the duck season starting, I’m finally starting to see migratory birds coming down from the Upper Peninsula. The birds are still making their way south after the prolonged summer.”

Butz expects the numbers to increase with the fall weather bringing in colder weather. When the temperature starts to get a lot colder, it forces the birds to migrate immediately, he said.

Weather plays the biggest part in the migration. As the colors change on trees and hunters head out, the weather will continue to cool down for another strong year of hunting in the county.

“Most bird migration starts at night,” Butz said. “The birds will start to make their way down from the north soon, and it will be good hunting.” Ash James, who bird hunts alongside Butz, is ready for the bird migration.

“I would agree that there a ton of woodcock around the county, and in Traverse City,” James said. “I personally have seen a few different birds, and I haven’t hunted to hard yet with the numbers so high. I plan to go out often.”

James went out looking for ducks overnight before the season started, scoping out the competition. He went out on Saturday and Sunday for the start of duck season. “We weren’t in a great area, but we have a ton of local birds around here,” James said. “Saturday and Sunday made us change our minds about the bird migration.”

The birds are migrating because of their long beaks. Birds migrate to states in the south, such as Arizona, because the worms and grubs hide down in the soil to stay warm and the birds can’t reach them in the cold of winter.

As well as the duck and geese seasons, Coots and Mergansers seasons also run from Oct. 6 to Dec. 2, with a two day stretch from the morning of Dec. 15 to night of Dec. 16. The daily bag limit for Coots is 15, with the possession number at 45.

Editor’s note: Want to see your hunting photo in the paper? Email photos to grant@leelanaunews.com. Please include a date, which township the deer was taken and any other details readers may find interesting.

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