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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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10. Chesapeake Bay

The cradle of American waterfowling, Chesapeake Bay has a rich sporting heritage dating back to Captain John Smith, who first hunted in the region during the early 1600s. More than 400 years later, the region remains a good place to hunt a variety of waterfowl. The nation’s largest estuary is among the Atlantic Flyway’s most important migration and wintering areas for dabblers and divers. In addition, nearly the entire population of Atlantic Canada geese winters along Maryland’s Eastern Shore and surrounding areas. Public waterfowl hunting opportunities abound on the bay itself as well as on wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges.

When it’s hot: December-January

Abundant species: mallards, black ducks, green-winged teal, canvasbacks, Canada geese, greater snow geese

Contact:
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries dgif.virginia.gov, Maryland Department of Natural Resources dnr.state.md.us

11. Southern Ontario

This narrow strip of land in the heart of the Great Lakes is a little piece of heaven for waterfowlers in one of North America’s most densely populated areas. During the peak of the fall migration, large concentrations of divers and dabbling ducks gather at such storied locations as Long Point, the St. Clair Flats, and the Thousand Islands. Layout hunters equipped to safely hunt offshore have especially good success when the divers are in. Less adventurous waterfowlers can also find good public hunting for dabbling ducks on coastal and interior marshes.

When it’s hot: October-November

Abundant species: lesser scaup, canvasbacks, redheads, ring-necked ducks, mallards, black ducks, Canada geese

Contact: Hunt Ontario gohuntinontario.com

12. Mississippi Delta

Birthplace of the blues, the Mississippi Delta has an equally rich waterfowl hunting tradition. When winter rains flood low-lying cropland and bottomland hardwood forests, this broad alluvial plain can rival neighboring Arkansas as a wintering ground for mallards, wood ducks, and a variety of other waterfowl. Freelance hunting is available in Delta National Forest and on several national wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas in the region.

When it’s hot: December-January

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

Contact: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks home.mdwfp.com, Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge Complex fws.gov/yazoo

13. ACE Basin, South Carolina

Encompassing the watersheds of South Carolina’s Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers, the ACE Basin is one of the most important waterfowl wintering areas in the south Atlantic Flyway. A mix of freshwater and brackish marsh, seasonally flooded bottomland hardwood forest, and intensively managed wetland impoundments draw large numbers of wintering dabbling ducks to the Palmetto State’s Lowcountry every year. Some of the best waterfowl habitat—and duck hunting—are found on this region’s historic rice plantations, which are privately owned and intensively managed for waterfowl and other wildlife. But the ACE Basin also has an abundance of public water open to hunting, and a small number of high-quality draw hunts are held on state wildlife management areas in the region.  

When it’s hot: December-January

Abundant species: green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, pintails, ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls

Contact: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources dnr.sc.gov


14. Missouri Confluence Area

Many of the Mississippi Flyway’s waterfowl—including at least 14 million ducks—pass through this narrow corridor formed by the Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers just north of St. Louis. The “Confluence” floodplain in Missouri’s St. Charles and Lincoln counties is home to more than 200 duck clubs, some of which were established during the early 1800s. More than 40,000 acres of public land exist on national wildlife refuges, state conservation areas, and tracts owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the surrounding four-county area. Many of these properties are intensively managed for waterfowl and provide good public hunting opportunities for residents and nonresidents alike.  

When it’s hot: late October-early December

Abundant species: mallards, green-winged teal, wood ducks, Canada geese

Contact: Missouri Department of Conservation mdc.mo.gov

15. Northwestern Washington

When Lewis and Clark explored the Pacific Northwest in 1805, they encountered almost unfathomable numbers of ducks, geese, and swans. Today, the region continues to support a great abundance of waterfowl. At peak times, more than 500,000 dabbling ducks winter on Puget Sound, and many of these birds gather along Washington’s northwestern coast in Samish, Padilla, and Skagit bays. Good public hunting is available on several state wildlife areas in Whatcom and Skagit counties as well as on Puget Sound.

When it’s hot: November-January

Abundant species: mallards, pintails, wigeon, green-winged teal, long-tailed ducks, scoters

Contact:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wdfw.wa.gov
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