Harvest and Hunter Activity During Florida's Special September Duck Season

We estimated total harvest, hunter participation, hunter success, and age-sex composition of the wood duck (Aix sponsa) harvest during Florida's special September duck seasons, 1989-1995. We sent mail questionnaires to a sample of Florida's duck hunters to estimate harvest and hunter participation, and collected wings to estimate age-sex composition of the wood duck harvest. An average of 3,555 (SE =178) hunters participated annually, and hunter-days averaged 8,082 (SE = 473). During years when teal (Anas discors,A. crecca) were included in the season, hunter participation and wood duck harvest remained similar to levels in years when the season was restricted to wood ducks; however, on average, teal harvest nearly doubled the total duck harvest. Mean number of wood ducks harvested each year (1989-1995) was 6,391 (SE = 296), and mean teal harvest (1992-1995) was 5,924 (SE = 1,095). Hunter success averaged 1.4 (SE = 0.10) ducks per hunter-day (0.76 [SE = 0.06] wood ducks per hunter-day and 0.67 [SE = 0.11] teal per hunter-day). The mean proportion of adult females harvested was lower, and the mean proportion of young males was higher than that of all other age/ sex groups. The mean proportion of young wood ducks in the season's wood duck harvest was 0.60 (SE = 0.03), and ranged between 0.48 and 0.76. The recent estimate of wood duck harvest per hunter-day remained similar to the estimate from Florida's special September seasons during 1981-1983, suggesting that hunter success and possibly wood duck availability have remained stable. Band-recovery data suggest that Florida's September wood duck harvest is primarily composed of birds that spent the previous breeding season in Florida.

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