Ducks are one of the most popular migratory game birds in New York. They are known for their emerald green head and yellow bill.
Waterfowl season dates are a federal mandate that are adjusted based on the latest scientific knowledge and century’s worth of experience. DEC and Cornell University use survey data as well as recent duck migration and abundance trends to make decisions in each zone.
As the days shorten, ducks and geese are moving across the country. Whether they are driving north or south, the shorter days provide opportunities for waterfowlers to get out and hunt.
For many hunters, duck season is a time to get out of the house and enjoy the crisp fall weather. It also allows them to balance the need to take a day off work and spend some time with their families, especially during Thanksgiving week, when young hunters are off school.
During the fall, many southern states have duck hunting seasons open in November, while other northern states begin their seasons in January. However, the month of December can offer a whiz-bang hunt if the weather is right.
In New York State, the waterfowl season is set by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) based on five waterfowl zones. These zones are determined through scientific analysis and consultation with DEC, sportsmen’s organizations with waterfowl hunting interests within their membership, and input from hunters in the area.
These areas represent the habitat where the majority of migratory ducks and geese travel to winter in the area. In order to manage the populations, DEC sets season dates and limits.
The seasons are generally a split into two sections, with the first running from October 1 to November 7 and the second running from November 8 to December 7. There is also a youth duck hunt day in each zone where youth 12 to 15 years old who are holding a junior hunting license may take 2 ducks on a special day during that season.
This is a great opportunity for young hunters to experience duck hunting and see how much fun it can be. They must be accompanied by an adult who holds a valid hunting license, is registered with the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP), and has a current duck stamp.
In addition, DEC conducts a youth waterfowl survey to determine what migratory duck hunting preferences are among the youth population. These results help us determine the best timing for duck seasons in New York State. In spring, we post tentative season dates on the Waterfowl Hunting Seasons webpage and will finalize these dates in federal regulation by mid-summer.
In New York, duck hunting season begins on Oct. 1 in the Northeast Zone and can start a week earlier or a week later on Western, Lake Champlain, and Southeast zones.
Waterfowl hunting seasons are governed by sound science, which helps to protect and maintain the state’s migratory bird populations. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) oversees these seasons.
The DEC is responsible for managing the duck and Canada goose populations in the region through a number of methods. These include habitat management, research, and education.
To protect and preserve the duck and goose populations, duck hunters must have a valid hunting license, Federal Duck Stamp, and HIP certification. They also need to know the state’s laws and regulations.
Most waterfowl hunting seasons are based on five zones that have been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These zones vary in bag limits and season lengths.
A list of all waterfowl hunting zones can be found on the DEC’s website. Some of these zones, such as Long Island, are reassessed every couple of years.
While these changes can impact the ability of hunters to get their fill of ducks, the DEC has made an effort to keep these seasons consistent with scientific data. The agency explains that each season is designed to provide a balanced opportunity for migratory birds to breed in the area and migrate back north for the winter.
For instance, the DEC cites the success of the Atlantic Flyway program to help manage the duck population in the region. The program has helped to increase the number of ducks in areas like Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
During the winter, ducks often move to new locations for food and water. This can be a positive thing for hunters who are able to stay in the right area and follow them.
As with any hunting endeavor, the key to getting a good duck hunt is patience and concealment. This is especially true with late season ducks that are wary of landing where they are not familiar with, says Avery Outdoors pro staffer Stuart McCullough of Los Banos, California.
Duck hunting season in the spring is a long-awaited time for many hunters across the country. It is when the hounds are out, the boats are stocked, and the guns are loaded up and ready to go. It is a chance to see the beauty of nature up close and enjoy the thrill of catching a critter before it gets away.
The waterfowl season dates vary by area, but the majority of New York state’s duck hunting seasons are set based on five different waterfowl zones that are approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
These zones are based on habitat, latitude and other factors to help maximize duck populations. Using these data, DEC selects duck season dates that allow for maximum duck abundance in each zone.
In the spring, waterfowl migrate southward to warm climates and wetlands. They are able to find food and drink more easily in warmer areas, which helps them get back on their feet after the colder winter.
Ducks, geese and swans can be found in various habitats, including rivers, lakes, swamps and ponds. They also feed in crop fields that are planted with corn, barley, wheat or millet.
Some of the more popular duck species include mallards, pintails, redheads and canvasbacks. Most of these birds are migratory, meaning they travel north from south to the arctic regions in fall and then return to their wintering areas in spring.
Hunting these birds is a fun and rewarding experience for many people. It is a great way to spend time outdoors, get in touch with nature and experience a different part of the country.
In New York, the duck season dates are generally October through January, with some exceptions in certain areas of the state. Each area has its own specific regulations and bag limits.
A person must register with HIP to take a duck or swan in the state. This registration is required for all ducks, swans and raptors taken during the state’s waterfowl seasons.
The daily bag limit for ducks is seven, with no more than two scaup (during open season), two hen mallards, one pintail and two redheads allowed in the bag. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit.
The peak of duck hunting season in Kansas is during early December. This is when the migration chronology of Kansas ducks tends to reach its highest point, though numbers vary from year to year depending on weather and the specific wetlands where they migrate.
In addition to ducks and geese, hunters can also target a variety of other migratory birds such as Canada geese and swans. These birds typically travel south from their wintering grounds in the northern United States to spend the summer and fall in our state.
Waterfowl seasons are established every year. This process involves the work of our state and federal wildlife agencies. These groups develop season frameworks that include the maximum season length and bag limits, earliest opening and latest closing dates, shooting hours, and other information for each species.
While the exact timing of duck season varies from year to year, ducks are usually able to arrive in the state at the end of August or beginning of September and remain for the entire fall and early winter period. The chronology of this movement is largely dependent on weather and prevailing winds.
A large number of hunters are interested in ducks and geese, particularly mallards and black ducks. A survey conducted in 2017 by DEC and Cornell University revealed that most New York duck hunters prefer to see and shoot these species during their preferred season.
Hunters who have a preference for certain species may request changes to their zone’s duck season by emailing the DEC Wildlife Bureau. The department will consider this request and make a recommendation to the USFWS if necessary.
The decision to change a zone’s duck season is based on the feedback received from the majority of duck hunters in each area, as well as other factors such as weather conditions and the presence of special game. The resulting decisions are made by DEC in consultation with the Atlantic Flyway Council and federal agencies.
In determining a special duck season, the State must ensure that the harvest is consistent with its long-term goals for the species. The specific goals for this species include: reducing mortality, improving agglomeration, and increasing the survival rate of adult ducks.