3. San Francisco, California
San Francisco Bay is rich in waterfowl, both dabblers and divers, and is the most important wintering area in the Pacific Flyway for scaup and canvasbacks. Nearby Suisun Marsh, with 52,000 acres of managed wetlands in both private and public ownership, is one of the most important breeding and wintering areas in California for mallards.
"I would say Suisun Marsh is the flagship location for waterfowling in the San Francisco Bay area," says Jeff McCreary, a DU biologist in California. "Once a market hunter's stronghold in the late 1800s, it is now a sportsman's paradise."
As for public hunting opportunities, the North Bay's Napa-Sonoma Marshes State Wildlife Area offers 14,000 acres of restored saltwater ponds, tidal marshes, and other wetlands. Access is usually by boat only, and hunters can set up on the banks of sloughs or try layout gunning on open water. In the South Bay, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge also offers good public waterfowling. And in about two hours, duck hunters can drive down to the Grasslands, the largest contiguous block of wetlands in California.