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15 Great Places to Hunt Waterfowl

When it comes to planning a waterfowl hunting trip, location is everything
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5. Peace River Country, Alberta

As the northernmost major grain-producing region in North America, the Peace River Country of northwestern Alberta is a magnet for migrating waterfowl raised across the boreal forest and Arctic. In September, waves of Canada geese, white-fronted geese, lesser snows, Ross’s geese, mallards, pintails, and other dabbling ducks descend on the region to gorge themselves on wheat, barley, lentils, and peas. As in other parts of Prairie Canada, visiting hunters can freelance by scouting the fields and asking permission from local landowners.

When it’s hot: September-early October

Abundant species: mallards, pintails, wigeon, green-winged teal, Canada geese, white-fronted geese, light geese

Contact: Travel Alberta mywildalberta.com

6. Texas Panhandle

The Texas Panhandle lies in the heart of what is known as the playa lakes region, also encompassing parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Much like the prairie potholes of the northern Great Plains, playas are dependent on seasonal precipitation, and in those special years when timely rainfall replenishes these unique wetlands, the Panhandle fills up with incredible numbers of waterfowl. Hunting pressure is light across much of this sparsely populated region. Freelance waterfowlers can often receive permission from landowners to hunt waterfowl on playas and private agricultural land.

When it’s hot: late November-December

Abundant species: mallards, pintails, wigeon, green-winged teal, Canada geese

Contact:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department tpwd.state.tx.us

7. Eastern Arkansas

Known as the Duck Capital of the World, Stuttgart, Arkansas, has long been a favorite destination for waterfowl hunters from near and far—and for good reason. Extensive rice production, naturally flooded bottomland hardwoods, and intensively managed green-tree reservoirs make the broad alluvial plain surrounding Stuttgart a winter paradise for mallards—and duck hunters. For those willing to work for their birds, good public hunting is available on the nearly 34,000-acre Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson and Arkansas counties and the 160,000-acre White River National Wildlife Refuge, spanning nearly 90 miles in four counties.

When it’s hot: late November-January

Abundant species: mallards, pintails, wood ducks, green-winged teal, gadwalls, white-fronted geese, lesser snow geese

Contact: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission agfc.com

8. Great Salt Lake, Utah

The Great Salt Lake is an oasis for breeding and migrating waterfowl in the heart of the arid Great Basin. This 70-mile-long lake and associated marshes are among the continent’s most important staging areas for pintails and other dabbling ducks. Steeped in waterfowling tradition, Great Salt Lake is home to nearly 30 private hunting clubs, such as the Bear River Club—dating back to 1901—as well as the Chesapeake, North Point, Harrison, Rudy, Ambassador, and New State clubs. Public hunting is available on the lake itself and on several state waterfowl management areas along its shores.

When it’s hot: early October-November

Abundant species: pintails, mallards, wigeon, gadwalls, shovelers, green-winged and cinnamon teal

Contact: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources wildlife.utah.gov

9. Upper Mississippi River

During the 1930s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a series of locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River, creating a vast network of shallow open water, islands, and marsh along the borders of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, these wetlands attract droves of staging waterfowl during migration. At peak times, more than 50 percent of the continent’s canvasbacks as well as thousands of other ducks, geese, and swans gather on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Public hunting is allowed throughout much of this sprawling 240,000-acre area, and waterfowlers equipped for hunting big water have good success gunning from points and islands along the shoreline.

When it’s hot: late October-November 

Abundant species: canvasbacks, redheads, lesser scaup, mallards, Canada geese

Contact: Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge fws.gov/
midwest/UpperMississippiRiver, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources dnr.state.wi.us

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