Ohio Canada Geese

Scioto River Valley

You don't have to visit the Sun Belt for great late-season waterfowling. Open water and fertile farmland make central Ohio a magnet for Canada geese.

"The Scioto River Valley is a major migration corridor, and we have very good numbers of Canada geese that stick around through the late seasons," notes Gary Ludwig, a wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

The bag limit for Canadas is two, but it doesn't end there. "When everything but the river freezes, the duck hunting south of Columbus can be as good as anywhere in the country," says avid waterfowler and ODW biologist Dan Crusey. "In fact, the best mallard hunting doesn't really get going until the month of December."

Hotspots: "For as long as there's open water, the marshes of Killdeer Plains and Big Island Wildlife Areas in Wyandot and Marion Counties offer fabulous public hunting," says Crusey. "The same goes for Delaware and Alum Creek Lakes north of Columbus and Deer Creek Lake south of Columbus, which often stay open well into the late season." (Regulations vary on each, so check the ODW website at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife before you go.)

"There's also plenty of opportunity for freelance field hunters," Ludwig says, "as lots of farmers want the geese killed." Among the top counties are Wyandot, Marion, Franklin, Delaware, Pickaway, and Ross. Insider Tip: The key, according to Crusey, is to know how the weather affects the hunting. Generally, when the marshes freeze, hit the reservoirs. When the reservoirs freeze, hunt the Scioto River and surrounding fields south of Columbus. Be mobile and flexible and you'll be in business.

Season dates: For the South Zone, including most areas mentioned above: duck, Dec. 13¿¿¿Jan. 18; Canada goose, Dec. 13¿¿¿Jan. 28.