Duck hunting can be an enriching experience but it can easily become ruined if any state or federal laws are broken. While most waterfowl hunters are aware of laws, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers are always out to find that one hunter who may not be in full accordance with the law. Illegal actions in waterfowl hunting can lead to heavy fines and penalties that can simply spoil a great day of hunting. To avoid breaking the law it is always important to check Federal and State migratory game bird hunting regulations before engaging in any type of hunt. Provided are a list of the obvious and not so obvious regulations that even the most experienced hunter may not be aware of:

  • Licensing – Make sure that you have the proper licenses and paperwork required for duck hunting. This typically consists of a state hunting license, a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, and a Harvest Information Program.
  • Location – Before you start calling in ducks to your blind, make sure that you are legally allowed to hunt there. If the area is baited (even if it is not your doing), hunters are not allowed to hunt in that area. Once the bait is removed, hunters may return 10 days later. If the land is agricultural, hunters are only allowed to hunt if there are unharvested standing crops or flooded standing crops.
  • Time – Only hunt when ducks they are in season and always ensure that you are hunting the correct species. Additionally, there are often time intervals throughout the day in which hunting is allowed.
  • Bag Limit – Hunters are limited on the amount of ducks they can harvest. Once that quota is met, the hunter must become an observer and harvest no further ducks. Often times in group hunts, hunters will collaborate to help everyone reach their bag limit. This is illegal due to the fact that you are only permitted to work within the means of your individual bag limit.
  • Maintaining Possession of Your Ducks – You are responsible for maintaining possession of only the ducks you shoot and ensuring that they are in separate bags from accompanied hunters’ ducks.
  • Assigning Birds – If you have to leave the ducks you shot with another hunter, you must tag each waterfowl to show legal ownership. The tag must have your signature, date, and include the donor’s name, address, and total number of that species being taken.
  • Providing Proper Identification – For identification purposes, the head or one fully feathered wing (sometimes both are required) of each bird must remain intact until the bird is transported to the hunter’s home.
  • Using a Plugged Shotgun – If a shotgun is capable of firing more than 3 rounds before being reloaded it must be plugged. Even if the shotgun is designed to fire more than 3 rounds, the hunter must take responsibility to address the gun before entering the field.
  • Using Motorized Vehicles – You may not hunt migratory game birds from any motor vehicle. However, handicapped hunters are often permitted to hunt from a stationary vehicle
  • Wanton Waste – A reasonable effort must be made to retrieve all waterfowl that are killed or crippled. If the waterfowl is wounded, it is to be immediately killed.



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