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Ducks should be arriving in the state just in time for the reopening of hunting season

The second half of Oklahoma's duck season opens Saturday. More mallards begin arriving in the state during the second half of the season. [Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman]

The second half of Oklahoma's duck season opens Saturday. More mallards begin arriving in the state during the second half of the season. [Photo by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman]

The second half of Oklahoma's duck season opens Saturday, but many die-hard hunters consider it the true opening day of the waterfowl season.

Duck hunting in Oklahoma usually gets better later in the winter, and if the current weather forecast proves to be accurate, Saturday could be an outstanding opener.

“I am kind of getting a little bit excited for the second split to open up," said Josh Richardson, migratory bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “They are talking about a pretty good Arctic blast moving down. North Dakota, South Dakota, parts of Nebraska, they have gotten some pretty heavy snows up there the last week.

“Birds should be pretty well vacating the northern country. Hopefully this cold blast will be enough to push them on past southern Nebraska and Kansas.”

Oklahoma always has split duck hunting seasons. The state is allowed 74 days of waterfowl hunting by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which the Wildlife Department chooses to divide into halves.

In Oklahoma, the duck seasons open in late October and early November and then close in late November everywhere except the Panhandle.

Some duck hunters want to open the season that early so they can hunt the pintails and redheads that migrate sooner than the mallards, Richardson said. Other duck hunters, however, prefer more hunting days later in the season to shoot the greenheads, he said.

“The 74 days doesn't quite stretch far enough to cover both ends of the spectrum,” Richardson said. “Having the split lets us cater a little bit to both sides.”

In addition, taking a break instead of running the duck season uninterrupted gives the birds a respite from hunting pressure, Richardson said. It also generates the excitement and anticipation of a second opening day later in the season, he said.

“If we ran 74 days straight through, the opening day would be a lot of times a little bit of a letdown because there wouldn't be a lot of birds here,” Richardson said.

In past years, hunters have complained that the first half of the season would close at the same time a good number of birds started arriving in the state, Richardson said.

“This year it ought to work out perfect,” he said.

Duck season is now open in the Panhandle through Jan. 11. Duck hunting begins again Saturday in the rest of the state, with the season remaining open in duck hunting zone two through Jan. 22 and in duck hunting zone three through Jan. 29.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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