Duck hunters have four more days to take aim. The 1990 Utah duck hunt will close at dusk on Monday. When it does it will go down in the records as a "better" hunt.
For most hunters it was the best hunt in five years. It started out good hunting in early October and, depending on icing conditions on the marshes over the weekend, should finish up in the good column.As Joel Huener, game management biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said: "There are more ducks, more habitat and more areas for hunters to go, which is refreshing."
Flooding along the shores of the Great Salt Lake in the early 1980s destroyed much of Utah's best duck hunting marshes. There was some improvement on conditions last year and greater improvements this year - and it showed.
According to Huener, there have been pulses of birds coming through the state since the season opened. At times there were large numbers ducks, swans and geese on the marshes.
One thing that slowed hunting was the weather. A mild fall allowed ducks to stay out in open waters and away from hunting areas. Also, there were more areas open to waterfowl. Both ducks and geese began to spread out this year. They started to reuse areas that were open before the flooding, which in some cases threw off old flight patterns and left hunters out of range.
On the final weekend, hunters can expect to see plenty of birds.
Huener said he flew over the shoreline marshes on Tuesday and "saw a low of birds. It was the highest count we've had on swans since 1983."
Most of the swans were concentrated around the northern reaches of the Great Salt Lake, on the Bear River Bird Refuge, Public Shooting Grounds and on Ogden Bay.
The key to good duck hunting this weekend will be ice. There was some ice earlier in the week. If more ice forms and weather conditions calm, then hunting could be more difficult.
While the duck hunt will close on Monday, the goose and swan seasons will continue until Jan. 6.
The limit on ducks is four daily. Within that bag, however, only three birds may be mallards, only one may be a pintail and no more than two can be canvasback or redhead or one of each.
The limit on geese is five daily, but only two within the limit may be of the larger Canadian species. To hunt swans a hunter must have purchased a special swan permit before the season.