Each year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services estimates the harvest of waterfowl species for each state utilizing the Harvest Information Program (HIP). In general, this process works by each individual hunter identifying whether they intend to hunt migratory birds (HIP Certification). A random sample is taken from this group and these hunters are asked to provide a log of their daily hunting activities indicating date hunted and number of ducks or geese killed or crippled. This sample provides the overall duck and goose harvest in North Carolina. A second sample of hunters is asked to provide a wing (ducks) and tail feathers (geese) from each bird they harvest. This sample of hunters thus provides a percentage of the various species of waterfowl harvested. These 2 pieces of information collectively provide an estimate of the total number of birds harvested for each species.
Below are graphs showing harvest estimates of the more common species in North Carolina. You will notice that these estimates are quite variable from year to year. This is due to many factors that vary over time including: changes in duck populations, bag limits and season length, total active hunters, and influence of weather on hunting success. Additionally, the HIP program methodology began in 1999. Prior to 1999, the USFWS utilized another harvest estimation technique know as the Mail Questionnaire Survey (MQS). Because the HIP survey and MQS are not directly comparable, some caution should be used when comparing current harvest estimates to those estimates prior to 1999.