A complete list of season dates and bag limits for each zone can be found on the DEC website. The waterfowl hunter task force rationale can be found at Duck Season Dates. Hunters interested in printing the pocket guide can find it at 2018-2019 Waterfowl Season Pocket Guide (PDF). Hard copies will be available from the Regional Offices or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org later this summer.
Season setting for the 2019-20 season and beyond
Deciding on the “best” or the “right” waterfowl season dates is a difficult task that has been a contentiously debated topic since regulated duck seasons began in the 1900s.To provide guidance for this challenging task, DEC began a two-year effort to expand on the current hunter task force process.
The modified season-selection process will directly incorporate the opinions and values of a representative sample of duck hunters and will use the most comprehensive migration data available. Last fall, DEC and Cornell University worked with the Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces to develop a survey that was sent out to over one-third of the registered duck hunters in New York State.
The goal of the survey was to identify how hunters defined a high-quality duck hunting experience (i.e., what makes the “best duck season”). The survey avoided asking “what days do you want to hunt” and instead focused on what hunter’s value in their hunting experience. DEC can use this information along with migration data specific to each waterfowl zone and evaluate how well various season dates match hunters’ values and migration chronology.
Results of the hunter survey are currently being analyzed by Cornell University and are expected later this fall. The next step in the decision-making process will occur later this summer when DEC meets with the Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces in each zone to establish a list of possible season date alternatives.
The last step in the process will occur this fall when DEC and Cornell University evaluate the tradeoffs and consequences of each season alternative to identify the optimal season based on hunters’ values and migration data (see Cornell Lab of Ornithology “STEM” Models for more on migration data). More information on the season setting process, results of the 2017 Duck Hunter Survey, and proposed future duck season dates for 2019-2023 (barring any changes to the federal regulations framework) will be posted on the DEC website during late fall 2018.