If you want to hunt ducks, you first have to know where to find them! Ducks are usually found in close proximity to crayfish farms, rice fields, lakes, and streams.
By traveling to locations such as these, ducks ensure that they have enough food sources and water depth, so these places are worth knowing about if you want to hunt more ducks.
Can you hunt ducks in any state? U.S. federal law states that you have to abide by the rule that every hunter is allowed only their daily bag limit for the state in which they’re hunting, so always consider them.
Don’t worry – we’ll inform you of the daily bag limits for ducks across the U.S. With this in mind, here’s your one-stop guide to the best duck hunting states in the U.S. Some of them might surprise you as they vary from the usual locations that you’re probably used to hearing about.
Best Duck Hunting States
This makes the number-one duck hunting spot, and for really good reasons. With approximately 1.3 million acres of wildlife management areas, this state is home to various ducks.
It’s home to a variety of habitats that appeal to ducks, such as flooded timber, flooded grain fields, and coastal marshes.
Some prime locations in which to hunt ducks include Northeast Louisiana, where you’ll find an abundance of waterfowl in its coastal areas. The wetlands also provide the perfect location for more than nine million migrating and wintering ducks.
While you’re there, make sure you go duck hunting in the Chenier Plain, located in Southwest Louisiana.
Here you’ll find wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges that give you many opportunities to hunt migratory waterfowl and various wetland locations that ducks go to when they need to find food in the colder season.
Your daily bag limit for ducks in this state is six. You can’t hunt more than four mallards (only two females), three wood ducks, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one mottled duck, one pintail, and one black duck.
You’re allowed to bag one scaup for the first 15 days of the hunting season, with two per day being allowed for the rest of the season.
One of the best states to visit if you want to hunt waterfowl is Arkansas. It’s a leading destination because it has more than 100 wildlife management areas. Here are some prime locations to check out.
- While in Arkansas, make sure you head over to Stuttgart, which draws thousands of duck hunters every year. Interestingly, this is considered to be the duck capital of the world because it’s filled with wetlands and flooded timber that covers acres, both of which provide the perfect location for ducks.
- Another prime duck hunting location is the White River National Wildlife Refuge. It’s located in the floodplain found between the White River and Mississippi River and provides more than 90 miles of flooded bottomland forests as well as rice fields. You’ll find a variety of waterfowl, such as mallards and Canadian geese here. If you’re going to White River for the first time, consider taking advantage of guided tours or private hunts.
Your daily duck bag limit in Arkansas is six ducks. This can include no more than four mallards (only two can be female), three wood ducks, two redheads, two black ducks, two canvasbacks, one scaup, one pintail, and one mottled duck.
Here, you’re sure to find mallard and Canada geese, so it’s a great waterfowl hunting destination. Some of the best duck hunting sites in Kansas include:
- Greater Pittsburgh. It’s where you’ll find lots of ranches and farms that are particularly conducive to duck hunting. Such places are filled with small lakes and ponds, as well as corn crops, all of which attract ducks. Waterfowl not only eat corn but also likes to find shelter in its tall crops. If you’re headed to Kansas, you should go to Pittsburgh for the ducks!
- Great Bend city, located in the center of the state, is another place to go. It’s where you’ll find the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. This is home to one of the largest inland marshes in the whole country, so you’re sure to have a good hunting experience in these wetland conditions.
Your daily bag limit in Kansas is six ducks. The restrictions that you need to follow include five mallards (only two can be female), three wood ducks, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one scaup, and one pintail.
Since Oklahoma is found at the southern part of the Central Flyway, a bird migration route that follows the Great Plains in the U.S. as well as Canada, you’ll find many duck and geese species here from November to January. In the 2020-2021 season, over 383,000 ducks were hunted – that worked out to be over 16 ducks for every hunter!
Southern Oklahoma in particular is a gem for hiding ducks that are just waiting for you to hunt them. Mallards are a good example. They’re drawn to watering holes frequented by cattle which become sources of food for them.
A good tip when hunting ducks is to be ready to stay on your feet and move around as the ducks get around a lot.
Make use of locations that are available for duck hunters, such as wildlife management areas that are filled with water frequented by ducks and wetland development areas that are open to public hunting.
In Oklahoma, you should bag no more than six ducks per day. The limit should include no more than five mallards (only two should be female), three wood ducks, three scaup, two canvasbacks, two redheads, and one northern pintail.
If you’re interested in duck hunting in Nebraska, you’re in luck because the states offer a variety of duck species to hunt. The duck season is open until late in December, and you’ll find a wealth of “greenheads,” otherwise known as mallards.
This state is home to a variety of duck hunting habitats, such as the Platte River sandbars and Sandhills Rainwater Basin wetlands, so make sure you check them out.
You should also visit the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District. Located in the south-central part of the state, here you’ll find grassy marshes and wetlands with 61 waterfowl areas across approximately 24,000 acres of it.
Nebraska has a two-tier bag limit when hunting ducks. This means that you can shoot six ducks according to the sex and species restrictions of the one tier or you can kill three ducks without having to follow any restrictions.
The daily bag limit is six ducks: five mallards (only two hens), three wood ducks, three scaups, two pintails, two redheads, and two canvasbacks.
If you want to hunt a variety of ducks, in this state you’ll see pintails, mallards, gadwalls, wigeon, green-winged teal, and cinnamon teal.
The problem you might encounter, however, is that California is a popular duck hunting destination that sees almost 50,000 hunters during the hunting season.
That said, there are good locations that are still worth considering. These include:
- The six refuges in Sacramento Valley. This location has been open to public hunting since the 1950s and is a premier waterfowl hunting area to visit.
- There are also quality wildlife management areas to see, such as Grizzly Island, which is home to waterways and 12,000 acres of seasonal ponds. Thanks to its feeding and resting areas, Grizzly Island sustains over 100,000 waterfowl every year during the winter.
In California, your daily bag limit is seven. This can include seven mallards (only two can be female), two redheads, two canvasbacks, two scaups, and one pintail.
This state is famous for its wild rice lakes, where you’ll find a variety of duck species, such as mallards, ringnecks, and teal. Go to Minnesota for the ringnecks alone as these are not usually found elsewhere so they’ll make your hunting adventure more exciting.
Home to more than 10,000 lakes, Minnesota offers a wide variety of diving ducks, such as redheads, scaups, buffleheads, and ruddy ducks.
- The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge allow public hunting over an area that’s around 240,000 acres in size. You’re likely to achieve hunting success here by shooting ducks from along the shoreline.
- Another waterfowl hunting site is Rice Lake. This beautiful lake is sometimes thought of as not having many ducks, but the stats reveal otherwise. More than 300,000 ducks frequent this lake in the autumn, which makes it the site of one of the largest recorded flock of ducks in the state!
In Minnesota, the daily bag limit for duck hunting is six. You can’t have more than the following duck species in your bag: four mallards (two can be hens), three wood ducks, two canvasbacks, two redheads, two black ducks, and one pintail.
You can bag one scaup per day through October 14 and then two scaups per day for the rest of the hunting season.
North Dakota is one of the best duck hunting states simply because the North American Central Flyway moves through it and is one of the most popular bird routes found between the Gulf Coast and northern Canada.
The east and west areas of the state offer a variety of wetlands, lakes, and rivers.
North Dakota has a variety of duck hunting opportunities, such as public lands and wildlife management areas, as well as waterfowl production areas.
Make sure you travel to the central and east-central area of the state as you’ll be able to make the most of the habitats in the Prairie Coteau and Missouri River, which include rolling prairies, wetlands, and croplands. You’ll find water areas such as creeks and small lakes that make up most of the land.
In North Dakota, you can only bag six ducks per day. This can include five mallards (only two can be hens), three wood ducks, two canvasbacks, two redheads, one saup, and one pintail.
Maryland is one of the U.S. states that offers some valuable duck hunting opportunities. The eastern shore in particular is renowned for ducks.
Kent Country isn’t just a geese hunting hotspot, it’s also home to various waterfowl, such as duck, quail, turkey, and dove, so it’s a versatile hunting region.
One of the best duck hunting sites is Millington WMA, which provides 4,000 acres of hunting land. Some of the most common duck species you’ll find in Maryland are mallards.
During the 2020-2021 hunting season, hunters bagged over 27,000 of these duck species. But, you can also find a large number of other types of duck, including green-winged teal, gadwalls, wood ducks, as well as black ducks.
In Maryland, you can only bag up to six ducks.
You shouldn’t have more than two mallards (one can be a hen), three wood ducks, two canvasbacks, two hooded mergansers, two redheads, two black ducks (you can only hunt them during black duck season), five sea ducks (no more than four scoters, four elders, or four long-tailed ducks), one pintail, one mottled duck, one fulvous tree duck, and one scaup per day (you can hunt two scaup per day depending on the time of the season).
The Mississippi Flyway, which is a bird migratory route that travels through the North American heartland, starts in central Canada and moves to the area near the Gulf of Mexico, following the route of the Mississippi River.
Missouri is located within this amazing Flyway and provides hunters with a good quantity of duck and geese. Here, you’ll find a variety of duck species, including mallards, pintails, teal, and widgeon. This makes it one of the best states for duck hunting.
Some of the best places to hunt duck in the state include the Grand Pass, which is found in Saline County. Here, thousands of migratory ducks (and geese) come here every fall.
It’s nestled within the Golden Triangle of Missouri which has become renowned for how many migratory waterfowl move through it.
The Grand Pass is attractive to ducks because it’s home to the production of corn, and they can feed on these crops in the winter.
Missouri has a six-duck bag limit. You have to limit yourself to the following number of species: four mallards (two can be female), two scaups for the first 45 days of the hunting season and one scaup for the remaining 15 days, and three wood ducks.
Illinois is not the first state that usually comes to mind when you’re trying to find the best location to hunt ducks. This is mainly because it doesn’t contain a lot of public land.
However, it offers over 60 public duck hunting areas, which makes it one of the best states to duck hunt. The best one to check out is Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area.
Here, you’ll find backwater lakes, bottomland timber, and timbered land, which appeal to ducks. There are 60 waterfowl blind sites, and around 500 acres of areas that are open to walk-in hunting, so it’s definitely worth visiting during the hunting season.
Illinois also forms part of the Mississippi Flyway in the form of the Illinois River. Millions of waterfowl fly to this area as a result of how they’re attracted to its backwater lakes, river bottoms, and marshes.
In Illinois, you have a six-day duck bag limit. This can’t include more than four mallards (two of which can be hens), three wood ducks, two black ducks, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one mottled duck, and one pintail.
You can bag two scaup for the first 45 days of the season but you’ll be limited to one for the remaining 15 days. If you want to hunt mergansers, you can only bag five per day, and only two of these can be of the hooded merganser variety.
The state of Mississippi has a variety of waterfowl hunting locations including private land, state, and federal opportunities. Some duck hunting sites that are worth checking out include Sky Lake, Sunflower, and Pascagoula.
- Sky Lake has a rich ecosystem that is appealing to ducks because they find various sheltering spots here.
- By comparison, the Sunflower Wildlife Management Area provides 60,000 acres in the Delta National Forest where you can hunt a variety of animals, such as squirrels, turkey, deer, and waterfowl. For increased convenience when hunting, there are primitive campsites that you’ll find throughout the forest.
In Mississippi, a maximum of six ducks can be bagged per day. This shouldn’t include more than four mallards (only two can be females), three wood ducks, two canvasbacks, two black ducks, two redheads, one mottled duck, and one pintail.
You can hunt one scaup per day in November.
We can’t complete this list without mentioning the state of Washington, simply because it’s one of the best states for public land duck hunting.
You might not realize just how abundant ducks are in Washington. Over the last five or so years, duck hunters in Washington have bagged approximately 430,000 ducks.
In this state, you’ll find a variety of ducks, such as mallards and sea ducks, as a result of the location’s blend of deep saltwater areas and agricultural fields.
There are great public land sites to check out if you want to hunt ducks in this state.
- A prime example is the Johns River Wildlife Area, where you’ll find 15 places that offer waterfowl hunting. This is a 1,500-acre area of land located a few miles from Westport. It’s filled with wetlands and upland grasses, so you’re likely to find waterfowls nesting in this area.
- Another one is Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. This is a large delta found where the Sound meets the Nisqually River. Here, you’ll find state-managed lands. It’s one of the most popular public hunting areas in the state.
- Don’t forget about Lake Washington. This is the state’s largest natural lake and you’ll find lots of ducks (as well as catfish) during the hunting season.
When duck hunting in Washington, the regulations vary quite a bit from the other states we’ve featured in our guide. You’re limited to bagging 21 breeding ducks.
This should be restricted to six mallards, six scaups, six redheads, six canvasbacks, three pintails, and one harlequin.
If you’re interested in hunting duck, you’ll have to ensure you travel to some of the best duck hunting states in the U.S. In this article, we’ve featured the best locations that attract a variety of ducks and will ensure you can bag some during the hunting season.
We’ve also looked at some of the bag limits to bear in mind depending on the state in which you’re hunting ducks so that you can have all the information you need before planning your next duck hunting adventure.
These limits will help you to avoid any disappointments in the form of fines or other penalties.