Hunting seasons set
Outdoors
Dave Sartwell



The 2010-2011 migratory bird season was set last Thursday by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. There are very few changes from last year's dates and limits.

The early Canada goose hunting season dates are Sept. 7-25, with hunters allowed a bag limit of seven birds per day.

"Data collected from agency goose banding activities indicate the early goose hunting seasons have kept populations stable in the central and western parts of the state and full bag limits are rarely reached," commented MassWildlife's Waterfowl Project Leader H. Heusmann. "However, in northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts, where we find our densest goose populations, hunters frequently filled the five-bird bag limit. So beginning in 2008, the September daily bag limit was increased to seven. The early season provides goose hunters with ample hunting and gives more time to landowners to allow hunters to reduce the size of nuisance flocks of resident geese."

Waterfowlers are reminded that state and federal waterfowl stamps are required for hunting waterfowl and that hunting hours begin one half hour before sunrise and end at sunset.

Hunters planning to hunt ducks, geese, woodcock, and other migratory birds must also be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) after purchasing a hunting license. This free registration number may be obtained by calling 1-800-938-5263.

Paper license holders must write the HIP number on the line just below the hunter's signature. Online license buyers can complete the HIP survey on the MassOutdoors Web site. The HIP number will be printed on the license that will arrive in the mail.

Woodcock and waterfowl hunters who purchase a license online, but who choose to buy a paper stamp will need to obtain their HIP number by phone. Hunters will be directed to complete a voice survey of any past migratory bird hunting activities before the system assigns an HIP number. Write the assigned HIP number in the space next to the WILDLANDS stamp printed on your online license.

Migratory bird regulations

Sora and Virginia Rail season is Sept. 1-Nov. 9 with a bag limit of five for Sora and 10 for Virginia. Snipe season runs from Sept. 1-Nov. 16 with a bag limit of eight.

The woodcock season will be from Oct. 14-Nov. 13 with a limit of three.

Coastal duck season will be from Oct. 15-Oct. 23 and Nov. 18-Jan. 17 with a limit of six.

Central duck season (West of Interstate 95 and Route 1) will be Oct.14-Nov.27 and Dec. 16-Jan.8.

Coot and Mergansers are the same as ducks except their bag limits are 15 and five respectively.

Goose seasons
Early goose season is set for Sept. 7-Sept. 25 with a bag limit of seven.

Regular season is from Oct. 15-0ct. 23 and Nov. 18-Jan. 17 in the coastal zone. The central zone is Oct. 14-Nov. 27 and Dec. 16-Jan. 8. Both have a bag limit of two.

The late goose season will run from Jan.18-Feb. 15 in the North Coastal Zone and Jan. 15-Feb. 15 in the central zone with a bag limit of five.

Snow goose and blue goose seasons are the same as ducks with a bag limit of 15.

Sea ducks (scoter, eider, long-tailed ducks) season will go from Oct. 9-Jan. 29 with a bag limit of seven.



Brant season will be open from Nov. 18-Nov. 27 and again Dec. 14-Jan. 29 with a bag limit of two.

The youth waterfowl hunt will be on Oct. 9 and 11.

Some things to remember

You need both a Federal and State waterfowl stamp and a HIP number. The Federal Stamp you get at the post office, the State stamp where you buy your license. If you hunt from a canoe or kayak you will need to be wearing a life jacket after Sept. 15. Possession limit is twice the daily bag limit. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset.

Fishing

We are coming into the best part of the fishing season. The big stripers will be starting to move back down along the coastline after filling up in the Maritimes.

A huge 62-pound striper was taken recently in the Merrimack, with numerous 50-plus-pound fish being landed regularly all along the shoreline. Eels and live baitfish fished at night usually produce.

Although there has not been as many bluefish around as there were years ago, there have been enough to give some pretty good action. Inshore baitfish have seemed to be the ticket.

The ground fishing has been spectacular all summer long. Halibut, cusk, hake and polluck come over the rail every time out with a few good cod as well.

Dave Sartwell is an outdoors columnist for the Times. Contact him at davidsartwell@comcast.net.