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Duck Hunting without the Crowds

A sampling of public waterfowling hotspots often overlooked by hunters
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Other Agency Lands

In addition to state and federal wildlife agencies, many other public agencies own or manage lands that are open to waterfowl hunting. Examples include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and Tennessee Valley Authority. Some of these agencies have management programs and special waterfowl hunting areas. Others simply have marshes and lakes located in flyways that draw birds during their fall migrations. 

According to Mike Rabe, migratory game bird supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Grand Canyon State has three large national forests with plenty of manmade lakes and natural wetlands that attract good numbers of ducks. These are the Tonto National Forest north of Phoenix, the Coconino National Forest east of Flagstaff, and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in the White Mountains in the east-central portion of the state.

"Our national forest lakes offer good hunting for a variety of puddle ducks, a few divers, and also some Canada geese," Rabe says. "The only problem is, there's not a lot of hunting pressure. So if you set up on one lake and take a few shots, the birds might shift over the hill to the next lake, where there's likely nobody to keep them moving."

When conditions are right, however, the waterfowling on these high-desert wetlands can be spectacular. "On a good day, you can shoot your limit as fast as you can in Louisiana or Arkansas," Rabe says. "Also, here in the Pacific Flyway, the season is long and the limit is liberal, so there's a lot of opportunity for hunters who are willing to work for their birds."

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