Starting in September, it’s open season for most of Manitoba’s waterfowl. The birds have finished raising their young and are ready to migrate. This means a variety of exciting species are making their way across North America.
We can’t wait for the upcoming season at Birdtail Waterfowl. As Manitoban migratory bird veterans, we know the ins and outs of the fall season. Whether it’s your first time heading to Manitoba for waterfowling, or you’re an experienced waterfowler who’s already gearing up for the season, here are some things you should know before you go.
Manitoba is divided into hunting zones
Manitoba is divided into waterfowl hunting zones by the Canadian government. Which zone you are in will affect the length of your season. Manitoba has four zones that stretch across our province.
Zone 1 is the northernmost part of the province. A majority of it lies north of 57°N. Here you’ll find typical Manitoba wilderness, along with arctic tundra in the east! Nueltin Lake and many rivers can be found here.
Zone 2 is the largest; it lies south of Zone 1. The upper parts of Lake Winnipeg, as well as Cedar Lake, are a part of this zone.
Zone 3 is south of Zone 2 and encompasses a large part of Lake Winnipeg and Lake Winnipegosis. The Manitoba marshes begin in this area, which makes it popular for waterfowl hunting.
South of Zone 3 all the way to the United States border is Zone 4. This includes Lake Manitoba, several rivers, and marshes.
Hunting seasons for waterfowl vary slightly between these zones but typically only by a few days. Various government agencies set them each year. Canadian residents can begin hunting Ducks, Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, White-fronted Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Snipe, and Coots on September 1st in all zones. Non-residents can begin on September 24th. Non-residents will also have smaller daily bag limits and possession limits than Canadians.
Woodcock open season begins on September 8th for Canadian residents and non-residents. There is only an open season in zones 3 and 4, as Woodcocks do not typically travel far north.
The government has published its complete Manitoba hunting regulations online. It’s an in-depth document. If you are hunting on your own, it’s essential to read it thoroughly and consult any local guides for advice as well. If you’ve booked a guide through Birdtail Waterfowl, fear not! We’re very knowledgeable about all of the regulations and ensure we’re attuned to any changes in compliance each year.
There have been license changes for non-residents
If you plan on crossing the border for this year’s waterfowl season, you likely already know about the changes to Canadian licenses. We’ve already covered everything you need to know about these changes here. These new license regulations require a bit more planning for non-Canadians to hunt in Manitoba. If you can’t make it up to join us, don’t worry—we’ll send a few flocks down south for you.
Fall weather may be extreme
No doubt you’ve noticed that extreme weather is becoming increasingly common. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, wildfires, or sweltering temperatures have affected nearly everyone across the country. We’ve had our fair share in Manitoba, and some of the craziness may affect the fall season.
Be sure to check the weather regularly as your hunting excursion dates approach. There is always the chance of an early snow, late summer heat, or a great deal of rain. Pack accordingly, and don’t be afraid to bring some extra luggage. We have plenty of space for you to store your gear, and it’s better to be prepared.
Wildfires are still raging in Alberta
In Alberta, just two provinces over, wildfires have been raging all summer long. Firefighters and volunteers have been working tirelessly to keep them contained, and we hope they won’t get any bigger. However, it’s still possible that wildfires could have some effect on hunts in Manitoba.
Mainly, smoke from wildfires could blow our way. Be sure to bring eye protection, which is important for hunting safety and comfort anyways. With wildfire smoke in the air, it is extra important. You should also bring a gaiter, bandana, or anything else to cover your nose and mouth. This will protect you from smoke and ensure that you’re comfortable for a long day of hunting.
For weather information and smoke reports, be sure to consult reliable sources. Environment Canada can help inform you about the conditions near your waterfowl hunt. We will also keep an eye on conditions and keep you informed of anything heading our way.
The upcoming waterfowl season is shaping up to be a great one! As usual, it will come with its own unique set of challenges. But with careful planning, there is nothing that can stop a great hunt. At Birdtail Waterfowl, we plan to make the most of this season. And remember, if you’re a Canadian resident, there is still time to plan a tour!