Duck season in full swing

Jimmy Jacobs is a freelance writer and fishing reporter for Fox Sports Outdoors on Fox Sport South. Follow him at jimmyjacobsoutdoors.com.


BY THE NUMBERS

59 Number of days in the Georgia duck season

38,000 Surface acres of water in Lake Lanier

49.2 Million in the national duck population, estimated by the USFWS

The first segment of the Georgia duck-hunting season runs through Nov. 30. A second session takes place from Dec. 6-Jan. 25.

“This year’s waterfowl regulations are similar to last year’s,” said Greg Balkcom, the Department of Natural Resources state waterfowl biologist. “There is one noteworthy change. The daily bag limit for canvasbacks dropped from two to one, based on this year’s population data.”

The decline in canvasback ducks is the only blemish in an otherwise bright outlook for the season. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2014 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations survey estimated a nationwide population increase of 8 percent for all duck species.

This is the third year in a row of increases in duck numbers, putting the population 43 percent higher than the long-term average for the years 1955-2013. Biologists point to wet weather conditions in recent years as the cause for the increases.

Metro Atlanta hunters have a local resource that comes as a surprise to many non-hunters in the area. Lake Lanier, located just northeast of the city, is open to waterfowl hunting.

The reservoir is one of the most visited U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes in the nation, annually drawing more than 7 million visitors. Usage does drop significantly during the cold winter months.

A ban on hunting on Lanier within 1,000 feet of any dock, house, structure, bridge, road, boat ramp, marina or open recreation area applies as a safety precaution.

Chris Scalley of River Through Atlanta Guide Service provides another local option for duck hunts. He and his staff guide outings on private lands in metro Atlanta. Those trips can be strictly duck hunting, or half-day hunts combined with trout fishing on the Chattahoochee River for cast-and-blast outings.

More details are available at riverthroughatlanta.com/hunting/duck-hunting.