Duck Season 411

Mallard duck swimming on lake

If this is your first duck season, there are a few things you should know. Ducks have been hunted for various reasons since the dawn of mankind, but with commercial hunting being prohibited, it is now done so primarily for sport. Due to their steady decline in population, laws were put in place to regulate over-hunting and control the survival of the species. In 1934, the United States government passed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, or as it is better known the Federal Duck Stamp Act. This program requires all hunters to have a hunting license AND a special stamp in order to legally participate in this type of hunting.

Mallard duck swimming on lake


Duck season traditionally occurs in autumn and winter, the birds have already finished raising their young ones and have begun the migration process towards warmer locales. There are three core elements that are typically in a hunter’s kit: a shotgun, a hunting blind, and decoys. The role of the decoy is to lure the birds closer while the blind help to hide the hunter. Once the bird has come into range, the hunters stand up in the blind and shoots down the bird with the shotgun with the intention of hitting their target before the ducks have been frightened off.

Back in the day, a duck call was a simple woodwind instrument that had a barrel, sounding board and a reed. The hunters would usually grunt into the call. These products have advanced and some callers do not require any vocal sound assistance. Know that each species of bird will require a different call.

Duck Hunting

Being that duck season takes place during fall and winter and can often times be in places where the weather can be really harsh – winds, freezing temperatures, snow, you name it – having the right attire for the environment is crucial. Wearing waterproof clothing is a necessity since you will spend most of your time either over the water, in the water or in a boat. An essential piece of clothing is the “wader.” Waders are waterproof pants that come with attached waterproof boots. The traditional waders reach the chest but you will also likely find alternative styles which are waist high, while knee high waders are ideal for more shallow waters. Make sure you wear insulated clothing. It is also a necessity if you are planning on hunting in a colder climate. Lastly, ducks are known for having incredible vision so it is advisable to choose clothing that is well camouflaged and merges with the surroundings. Green and brown are good colors when duck hunting.

You will find a wide variety of structures that can be categorized as “duck blinds” currently being sold on the market today. Duck blinds are temporary or permanent structures. The purpose of blinds are to be effective at hiding the hunter and making their movements as undetectable as possible so as to not scare of the birds. With the growing popularity of boats being used for hunting, many hunters now tend to use boat blinds as a way to camouflage.

Let your dog help you during duck season.

Experienced hunters will also use dogs to retrieve the birds they shoot. The most common breed of dog used in duck hunting are retrievers or spaniels. You can find books or search online to find a good dog hunting trainer. There are a number of advantages in using dogs. The main reason: the dog can go into the cold, freezing water to retrieve the birds the hunter shoots, leaving the hunter back on the boat or elsewhere that is dry.

Duck hunting is highly regulated. You will need to obtain a hunting license. There is also a limit for how many birds you can take for a single day AND also for the the total number of birds that you can possess at any one time.

You must also purchase a federal duck stamp and in many cases a state stamp as well. It is prohibited by law to shoot down ducks from motor vehicles, from a moving boat and if the bird sitting or swimming in the water. According to duck hunting laws, you can only shoot during duck season. Each state is different. Before you start practicing your calls, check when the start and end date of your state is, get the right information, and make sure you’re not breaking any laws. Fines can be steep.

Happy Hunting!