This content is a part of the DU Travel program and Ducks Unlimited editorial played no role in creating the article. This content is a paid advertisement from North Dakota Tourism.

By North Dakota Tourism

More water means more ducks this year in North Dakota. After a pattern of dry weather, 2022 brought welcome moisture and a 16% increase in breeding ducks for the state. The 75th annual spring breeding duck survey conducted by North Dakota Game and Fish in May of last year showed an index of nearly 3.4 million birds. It is the 23rd highest index on record — a strong 38% above the long-term average since 1948.

Find world-class hunting and fishing in North Dakota.

North Dakota is the leading state for duck production, thanks to our vast wetlands. Last year, those wetlands saw an enormous increase with the 2022 spring water index skyrocketing up 616%, marking the largest single-year increase recorded by the survey.

Heavy snowfall and soaking rains in spring and early summer in 2022 leading up to the survey was followed by major snow events in early winter. This is great news for ducks, geese and waterfowl hunters in 2023.

As always, North Dakota is the place for waterfowl hunting.

The North American Central Flyway goes right through here. It is one of the busiest routes for birds of all feathers heading between northern Canada and the Gulf Coast or beyond. Every spring and fall, waterfowl come by the millions. Hunters should especially look for localized concentrations of ducks and geese as the migration ramps up.

North Dakota has many duck species throughout the migratory season.

Diverse Waterfowl Populations

Duck species are diverse in North Dakota, with daily and possession limits on mallards, scaup, wood ducks, redheads, pintails, canvasbacks, blue-winged teal and mergansers

In the Game and Fish Department’s July brood survey, observed broods showed an increase of 36% from 2021, representing 5% above the 1965-2021 average index. The average brood size was up 11% from 2021, coming in slightly above the long-term average at 7.2 ducklings per brood.

Most species of ducks saw indices climb from 2021 with only four species decreasing. The ever-popular mallards increased 58%, representing the 25th highest mallard index on record. Ruddy ducks were up 157%, while shovelers and pintails were up 126% over 2021.

Despite expectations for low production of Canada geese following wintery conditions in April 2022, North Dakota saw a record number of geese in breeding areas. So, hunters can look forward to good opportunities for Canada geese, Ross’s geese and light geese consisting of snow geese and blue geese.

Tundra swans and sandhill cranes also have annual hunting seasons in North Dakota for resident or non-resident hunters. Special permits are required for both, and tundra swans have a bag limit of one tagged bird with a lottery-drawn license.

North Dakota is a waterfowl superhighway.

Licensing, Limits, and Land

Hunters also find plenty great places to hunt, including wildlife management areas, PLOTS (Private Lands Open to Sportsmen), state school lands and more than 230,000 acres of waterfowl production areas.

To find these areas, the most up-to-date information is available through the North Dakota Game and Fish website in their PLOTS Guide Viewer and apps including ArcGIS Explorer, OnX Hunt and Avenza.

No hunting is allowed without permission from the landowner or lessee on private lands that are legally posted either with physical signs or electronically. Unposted private lands (not physically or electronically posted) that are not otherwise restricted to hunting by law may be hunted without landowner permission.

Non-resident regular seasons for ducks and geese typically begin in early October. With the early arrival of migrating Canada geese (as well as the resident bird population), an early Canada goose season typically opens in mid-August, depending on expected numbers. Official dates are published in August by North Dakota Game and Fish.

The daily bag limit on ducks and mergansers has been six in recent seasons. To count their six total, hunters may harvest a combination that includes up to five mallards (limit of two hens); up to three wood ducks; up to two redheads; up to two canvasbacks; and no more than one scaup and one pintail. Mergansers and nine other duck species including pintails, shovelers and ruddy ducks must also be counted in the total duck limit with no further species-specific restrictions. Possession limits are three times the daily limit.

Across North Dakota, sporting goods stores and convenience stores alike offer licensing and printed resources on the spot. For convenience and the latest, most complete information, North Dakota Game and Fish offers online licensingmap resourcesproclamations and guides. Outfitters, lodging and more services can be found on the state tourism website.

Link to free guide above

This content is a paid advertisement from North Dakota Tourism.