2019–20 season dates
Youth Waterfowl Hunt — Northern Zone Sept. 21, 2019
Youth Waterfowl Hunt — Southern Zone Sept. 28, 2019
Swan Oct. 5–Dec. 8, 2019
Ducks, mergansers, coots and Wilson’s snipe—Northern Zone Oct. 5, 2019 – Jan. 18, 2020
Ducks, mergansers, coots and Wilson’s snipe—Southern Zone Oct. 12, 2019 – Jan. 25, 2020
Scaup — Northern Zone Oct. 5–Dec. 29, 2019
Scaup — Southern Zone Nov. 1, 2019 – Jan 25, 2020
Dark geese — Eastern Box Elder goose area Oct. 5, 2019 – Jan 18, 2020
Dark geese — Northern goose area Oct. 5–17, 2019 and Oct. 26, 2019–Jan. 26, 2020
Dark geese — Southern goose area Oct. 12, 2019 – Jan. 25, 2020
Dark geese — Wasatch Front goose area Oct. 5–17, 2019 and Nov. 2, 2019–Feb. 2, 2020
Light geese --- Oct. 25–Dec. 15, 2019 and Jan. 15–March 10, 2020
NOTE: The Bear River, Fish Springs and Ouray national wildlife refuges and the Brown’s Park, Desert Lake, Farmington Bay, Harold S. Crane, Howard Slough, Locomotive Springs, Ogden Bay, Public Shooting Grounds and Salt Creek waterfowl management areas (WMAs) will be closed to light goose hunting for the season, starting on the last day of the dark goose hunt within their respective goose areas. For more information see; wildlife.utah.gov/waterfowl
Starting July 3–18, 2019., you may apply online for - a swan permit or preference point. Both residents and nonresidents may apply. Groups of up to four adults or four youth may also apply. For more information, please see https://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2019-20_waterfowl.pdf. When you submit your application for either a swan permit or a preference point, you will be charged a $10 nonrefundable application fee. A permit fee is charged only if you are successful in drawing a permit. The fee for a swan permit is $15.
If you are planning to hunt ducks, geese or swans this fall, here is what you should expect:
Hunters can expect great hunting conditions this year, especially early in the season. Overall, most duck species are well above their long-term average, so hunters can expect to see a lot of birds as they migrate through the state.”
Typically, about 15 duck species can be found in Utah. Details and photos of each species can be found in the Utah Waterfowl 2019-2020 Guidebook This hunting season, there should be a large number of gadwall, cinnamon teal and mallards on Utah marshes. Pintails and scaup numbers are lower this year, and continue to be below the long-term average, so those two species may be less abundant than in previous years.
“Hunters can greatly improve their success during the duck hunt by spending some time scouting before each hunt,” Stringham said. “Learning where and when birds are in a specific location can allow hunters to be where the birds want to be, when they want to be there, and will greatly increase the number of birds they harvest.”
While there aren’t any nationwide population estimates for geese, recent surveys in Utah show that Canada geese numbers decreased a little this year, likely because geese have an earlier nesting season than ducks which was disrupted by the wet spring this year. However, overall, hunters can expect a good year of goose hunting in Utah.
“Goose numbers in the Pacific Flyway, the north-south flying route for migratory birds in North America, are higher than they’ve ever been, and hunters can expect to see just as many, if not more, geese than they saw last year,” Stringham said.
One of the best ways to be successful during the geese hunts is to use a good call.
“Calling is a very important part of goose hunting,” Stringham said. “Geese are very social birds, so being able to sound like a goose can help hunters harvest more birds.”
Hunters should also note that most light goose hunting takes place on private property. Make sure to get permission from landowners before hunting on their property.
WATERFOWL MANAGEMENT AREAS
There are over 20 Waterfowl Management Areas (WMAs) throughout Utah that are owned and managed by the DWR. Hunters should be aware that the Locomotive Springs WMA is very dry again this year, as it has been for several years. Portions of the Salt Creek WMA were dried this summer, but those areas are filling with water and should be accessible for the upcoming hunts.
If you’d like to add some fun and challenge to your hunt, consider completing the Waterfowl Slam. Hunters earn a slam by completing different requirements, like harvesting a group of species in a certain time period or location. There are currently 10 slams with different levels of difficulty, so you can find a variety of fun, unique challenges.
Along with trying something new, hunters who complete the slam can also earn colorful, collectable leg bands. The money earned from the slam is used to complete habitat-improvement projects on the different WMAs across the state. You can learn more about the slam on the DWR website at https://wildlife.utah.gov/index.php/waterfowl-slam/.