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End of the Season
Bruce Thibodeau

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Well as we know Duck Season in Michigan is over, except for late season in January. This season seen some changes, some good, some not so good in the opinion of myself and others. The season Dates were changed for northern lower Michigan from coinciding with the UP opener, to opening the same day as the southern lower.

This was done with some pressure put on the DNR, by hunters, in response to the bad season in 2001, and the abnormal weather of the past several years. Many of the hunters in the state were requesting the DNR make the season to run later, and that we open later. The reason was stated as they wanted to have a chance at flight ducks ( migrating birds), and not so many of the local birds.

What happened in 2002, Season opened in the UP with great expectation, everyone was talking duck, there were good numbers of birds seen, and things looked up. Opener was slow, and there were a few bright spots throughout season, and the total report form the UP was great hunting in spots, and lousy in others.

I would have to state that the overall report I have received is that the UP season was fair to good. They had a normal season in the Up as the cooler temps and Michigan's Seasons returned to a more normal pattern as in years past.

The Northern Lower as I mentioned had a later opener. It was hailed as wonderful by all of those who wanted it to happen, other including myself were more sceptical. we waited to see what would happen.

The opener was warm, and the opening weekend seen cool temps hit right on time. For many the opener was a great hunt, for others it was not so good. The ducks were here in moderate numbers, and many of the locals had already begun to fly southwards. The overall season had good numbers of ducks coming through, they passed in waves. There were days of no birds in the air, and then the following couple would see new birds arrive and the hunting was good.

The overall season for the Northern Lower Michigan, as I heard and seen was a good to above average. Many of the hunters were happy with the season as it was set, others including myself would prefer three openers and three separate closes. the reason is just the simple fact that the Lower peninsula has two distinct regions and climates, and the entire lower peninsula can not be treated as one whole management unit.

The southern Lower Peninsula opened the same day as the northern lower, and they also had good numbers of ducks, they had many of the local northern birds in the area, they seemed to start out slow and progressed through the season in an increasing way. I had good reports of the marshes along the shorelines as doing very well. and the overall of what I heard from the south was steady numbers most of the year, and when the flight birds hit they really had a good to very good season.

As a whole Michigan seemed to have an average to above average year, with the Northern Lower being the only one of the three zones to have had a very different season. The southern Zone made up for the Northern and Central zones. The Up did better than the Northern Lower. The late spring seemed to have an effect on the populations, and the fall as it was did see many ducks in areas they are not so often found. As an example I myself took golden eyes, Black ducks, and Lesser scaup off ponds. 2002 season was about the same for myself as 2001.

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