With winter temperatures going down to 15° or less, you can understand why ducks and waterfowl say, “We are outta here!” The ducks from Canada make their way south along the Atlantic Flyway and usually stop in Maine for a break. Between the ducks that make Maine their summer home and those just passing through, it’s an excellent opportunity for duck hunters to enjoy their beloved sport while keeping the duck population in check.
This article will explore all the essentials of Maine duck hunting season, including the ideal dates, critical requirements, and a few other things!
What species of Ducks are in Maine?
Waterfowlers tend to gravitate to particular species and usually have favorites, so figure out your style and go for it! In Maine, you have divers and dabblers and a variety of sea ducks on the coast, such as eiders, scoters and long-tails. You’ll also find common ducks like mallards and wood ducks on lakes, rivers and ponds. Some of the most common duck species in Maine include:
- Wood Duck
- Common Eider
- Black Duck
- American Coot
- American Widgeon
- Common Goldeneye
- Sea Ducks (eiders, scoters, long-tailed)
- Ring-necked duck
Duck Hunting in Maine: Location
With 3,500 miles of coastline and 90% of the state covered in forest, Maine’s coast is where most ducks pass through. With 94% of Maine’s forested land being privately owned, you would think the hunting land would be limited. Still, many landowners allow hunters to use their land during hunting season. 69 Wildlife Management Areas and some State Parks also allow duck hunting. Casco Bay is a popular sea duck hunting area for those looking for mallards or black ducks. Head to the Basin or along the Androscoggin River for those duck species.
Hunting Zones in Maine
Maine has three zones: the North, South, and Coastal. Check out this guide to find the dividing lines between counties and to define exact hunting zones in Maine. Remember that hunting season dates vary by zone and species.
Duck Hunting in Maine: Season Dates
|Species||North Zone||South Zone||Coastal Zone|
|Ducks||Sept. 26-Dec. 3||Oct. 1-Oct. 15 and Nov. 1-Dec. 24||Oct. 1-Oct. 8 and Nov. 8-Jan. 7|
|Mergansers||Sept. 26-Dec. 3||Oct. 1-Oct. 15 and Nov. 1-Dec. 24||Oct. 1-Oct. 8 and Nov. 8-Jan. 7|
|Coots||Sept. 26-Dec. 3||Oct. 1-Oct. 15 and Nov. 1-Dec. 24||Oct. 1-Oct. 8 and Nov. 8-Jan. 7|
|Teals||Sept. 26-Dec. 3||Oct. 1-Oct. 15 and Nov. 1-Dec. 24||Oct. 1-Oct. 8 and Nov. 8-Jan. 7|
|Scaup||Sept. 26-Dec. 3||Oct. 1-Oct. 15 and Nov. 1-Dec. 24||Oct. 1-Oct. 8 and Nov. 8-Jan. 7|
|Sea Ducks||Sept. 26-Dec. 3||Oct. 1-Oct. 15 and Nov. 1-Dec. 24||Oct. 1-Oct. 8 and Nov. 8-Jan. 7|
Additional Season Dates
|North Zone||South Zone||Coastal Zone|
|Special Falconry Season||Dec. 17- Feb. 7||Jan. 9-Mar. 1.||Jan. 9-Mar. 1|
|Special Youth Waterfowl Hunt (All duck species may be hunted except Harlequins, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Moorhens and Gallinules)||Sept. 17 and Dec. 10||Sept. 24 and Oct. 22||Sept. 24-Oct. 29|
Duck Hunting in Maine: Bag and Possession Limits
For ducks, the bag limit is 6, with a possession limit of 18. There are some exceptions and some species-specific limitations listed below as well. The season is closed for Harlequin Ducks, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Moorhens and Gallinules.
|Species||Bag Limits||Possession Limits|
|Mergansers (in addition to 6 ducks)||5||15|
|Coots (in addition to 6 ducks)||5||15|
|Northern Pintails, Mottled Ducks, Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Scaup and Hen Mallards, Hen Eiders||1||3|
|Sea Ducks (Scoter, Eider, and Long-Tailed Duck)||4||12|
Hunting in Maine: Hours
The hunting hours in Maine are about one hour before sunrise to sunset. Most waterfowlers will arrive before the sun rises to scout the area, set out their decoys and prepare for the hunt. Plan for additional time for set up and take down. In most cases, you must remove your blind and decoys at the end of each day.
If you are out for a short morning hunt, you could get away with having a gun, a pair of waders and perhaps a caller. But if you plan to be out for a few days or want to take things more seriously, you want to have the right gear.
Equipment you might need for duck hunting season:
- Shotgun: a 12 gauge or 20 gauge
- Gun case to keep moisture out of your gun; remember the wet, muddy conditions of duck hunting.
- Shells: 3″ shells, depending on the duck species you are targeting.
- Duck blind or boat blind: There are a variety of blinds like an A-frame, layout or pit blind. You need to know what species you are targeting and the habitat you will be hunting in. You can have a stationary blind or hunt from an anchored duck boat, canoe or kayak. The most important thing is that your blind remains well camouflaged.
- Life vest or PFD: If you are hunting from a floating platform, ensure you have a life vest or PFD.
- Decoys: You want to choose the lightest, most realistic decoys you can afford. Your spread should include at least 6 decoys, but 12 is more common. If you are hunting for a party, you may have as many as 36 or more. Some hunters swear by adding a half-dozen geese decoys to make the area look more natural.
- Camo: Remember you want to “blend in your blind.” You want to be as camouflaged as possible. All of your clothing should be a camo print, and you must also cover your face.
- Nylon lining
- Elastic polyester mesh fabric makes this decoy bag lightweight and foldable for carrying turkey, duck, drake, mallard, goose, and waterfowl
- [Flexible storage capacity] The decoy bag size 34"x30" holds up to 20 standard duck decoys, 6 goose decoys, 3 full-size turkey, and 30 teal or half duck decoys per bag (varies based on decoy style, and size);
- [Yellow camouflage] The yellow duck decoy bag is easy to camouflage and hide, but not easily detected by the prey; It can be integrated with the color of outdoor shrubs, grass and trees around in autumn;
- [Shoulder strap and cord lock] The adjustable reinforced nylon shoulder strap fit your body and keeps your hands free. The drawstring closure tab keeps your decoys locked securely inside the duck decoy bag;
- [Guarantee and support] If you are not satisfied with any quality or style, color or size of our products(Mesh Decoy Bag), you can ask us for a replacement or return. We will deal with your demand within 24 hours;
- Duck callers: Practice makes perfect. Having a convincing call can really make or break a successful hunt.
- Waders: You know how chilly the fall is in Maine, especially later in the season, so if you are wading around in the cool waters off the coast or in any of the lakes, rivers or marshes, you need to stay warm and dry. Splurging on a comfortable, warm set of waders makes a big difference. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking or scouting, you might get a pair where the boots are separate; otherwise, one-piece overalls and boots in one work well.
- Dog: Training your pup to retrieve can be a great way to bond with your pet while having additional company. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Spaniels are the most popular dog breeds for dog hunting.
- Having a first aid kit on hand is always a good idea. Tuck one in your blind bag or backpack just in case something goes wrong.
Prepare for Success
You can always ask the five “W” questions when duck hunting. Who will you go with, where will you set up your blind, what species will you hunt, when will you go (what time of day)? The sixth “W” is the weather. That’s one you don’t have much control over, yet it can make or break a hunt. Aim for days that are cool, windy and overcast.
Best Places to Duck Hunt in Maine
Maine is divided into 7 Wildlife Management regions. Casco Bay, the Basin Preserve and the Androscoggin River are some of Maine’s best places for duck hunting. Although most WMAs allow hunting, check with the park restrictions and never hunt in the Wildlife Sanctuaries within the parks. The coast is also littered with outfitters that will take you out for the day or multiple days with tons of experience finding (and hunting) your waterfowl of choice.
3 of the Most Common Ducks Species in Maine
- Mallard: The most famous duck is the mallard with the male’s classic green head and yellow beak. Mallards are the most harvested duck in Maine, with the Wood Duck and Common Eider coming in 2nd and 3rd.
- Wood Duck: Wood Ducks also have a green head but a different design. Their beaks are more red-orange, and they have red eyes. The feathers on their chest are rust-colored, their wings are black, and their bellies are gray.
- Common Eider: These are easily recognized sea ducks that are all white with black-tipped wings, a black crown and black tail feathers. Their yellow beaks stand out in contrast to their black and white fluffy feathers. Eiders are large ducks with stocky bodies and often swim in large groups off the coast.
- Based on customer reviews, we suggest selecting one size larger than usual.
- TIDEWE Next camo hunting clothes effectively reduce noise by using quiet material.
- Water-resistant and breathable exterior fabric. It repels moisture and keeps you dry in light rain or snow. The fleece lining provides a soft and comfortable fit and it keeps you warm at the same time.
- The hunting suit has 9 strategically placed pockets. They keep your hands warm in outdoor activity and are large enough for any gear you may need to have on you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you duck hunt in Maine?
Yes, you can duck hunt in Maine. Waterfowl hunters must have a State Migratory Waterfowl Permit, Federal Duck Stamp and HIP certification.
When does duck hunting season start in Maine?
The duck hunting season begins on September 26, 2022. The North Zone opens first, followed by the South and Coastal Zones on October 1, 2022.
What are the most common ducks in Maine?
The most common ducks harvested in Maine are Mallard, Wood Duck and Common Eider.
What is the bag limit for Mallard ducks in Maine?
The daily bag limit for Mallard ducks is 6.
How does Maine rank in the country for duck harvest numbers?
Maine is ranked 42nd in duck harvest (based on a 10-year average).
More from A-Z Animals
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Available here: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/wildlife/species-information/birds/waterfowl.html
- Realtree: Family, Friends and the Outdoors, Available here: https://www.realtree.com/waterfowl-hunting/duck-hunting-nation/2018/maine-duck-hunting
- Ducks Unlimited, Available here: https://www.ducks.org/hunting/waterfowl-hunting-destinations/five-public-hunting-hotspots-in-the-atlantic-flyway