Duck Hunting Season in Nebraska: Season Dates, Bag Limits and More

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: November 7, 2022
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Nebraska is in the heart of the Midwest and although it is known as the Great Plains there are some great areas for duck hunting. From the North Platte River just west of Omaha to the Missouri River in the northeast corner of the state you will find resident ducks as well as migratory ducks on their way south. Hunting for greenheads, teals, gadwall and pintails at the many Wildlife Management Areas has been productive with an annual duck harvest of 126,400 duck (all species) harvested. The ducks are here, all you need is some gear, here is everything you need to know about duck hunting season in Nebraska including season dates, bag limits and more!

What Kinds of Ducks are in Nebraska?

Blue-winged Teal

The three most common ducks harvested in Nebraska are mallards, blue-winged teal and green-winged teal.

©iStock.com/Brian Reinke

The three most common ducks harvested in Nebraska are mallards, blue-winged teal and green-winged teal. There are actually 15 species of ducks that pass through or live in Nebraska. Some of the other more common species are gadwall, pintails, wigeon, wood duck and shovelers (the big-billed ducks). Less common but also harvested are canvasbacks, redheads (those two look alike) and ring-necks.

Where can you Duck Hunt in Nebraska?

North Platte River

The North Platte River just west of Omaha has some of the best duck hunting in the state.

©marekuliasz/Shutterstock.com

Hunting near the Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) is always good hunting. There is even a WPA called “Mallard Haven” just north of Shickley, NE. Wildlife Management Areas and Wetland Management Districts like Rainwater Basin WMD also provide public hunting. The North Platte River just west of Omaha has some of the best duck hunting in the state as well as along the Missouri, Republican and Niobrara Rivers. The Sandhills in the High Plains of Nebraska are dotted with lakes and ponds where ducks and geese gather.

What are the Hunting Zones in Nebraska?

Nebraska has four hunting zones with Zone 2 being divided into the Low Plains and High Plains regions as well. The zoning system helps regulate the duck hunting season dates starting with an early teal season in September and wrapping up the season for all waterfowl the end of January.

Duck Hunting Season Dates in Nebraska

 Teal
Low Plains (eastern Nebraska)Sept. 3-18
High Plains (western Nebraska)  Sept. 3-11
 Ducks & Coot
Zone 1Oct. 15, 2022 – Dec. 27, 2022
Zone 2 Low PlainsOct. 1, 2022 – Dec. 13, 2022
Zone 2 High PlainsOct. 1, 2022 – Dec. 13, 2022, and Jan. 4 – Jan. 25, 2023
Zone 3Oct. 22, 2022 – Jan. 3, 2023, and Jan. 4 – Jan. 25, 2023
Zone 4Oct. 22, 2022 – Jan. 3, 2023

Other Season Dates

Youth Waterfowl Hunt 
Zone 1Oct. 8, 2022 – Oct 9, 2022
Zone 2Sept. 24, 2022 – Sept. 25, 2022
Zone 3Oct. 15, 2022 – Oct. 16, 2022
Zone 4Oct. 15, 2022 – Oct. 16, 2022

Bag Limits and Possession Limits for Duck Hunting in Nebraska

Animals That Play Dead duck

There is a new “Bag Limit Program” in Nebraska with 2021-2022 being the pilot season. Hunters had an option of choosing a Tier 1 limit or Tier 2 limit.

©Rudolf Ernst/Shutterstock.com

There is a new “Bag Limit Program” in Nebraska with 2021-2022 being the pilot season. Hunters had an option of choosing a Tier 1 limit or Tier 2 limit. The basic difference is that Tier 1 is more traditional with a bag limit of 6 ducks with restrictions on the number of certain species and gender and Tier 2 where you can bag 3 ducks but not be as concerned about the species or gender.

 Bag LimitsPossession Limits
Tier 1 (restrictions* on species and sex)618
Tier 2 (no restrictions on legal species and sex)39

*The restrictions include no more than 5 mallards with only 2 of those being hens, 3 wood ducks, 1 scaup, 2 redheads, 1 pintail and 2 canvasback.

What are the Shooting Hours?

The shooting hours in Nebraska are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.

Gear up! What is the Best Gear for Duck Hunting?

Mallard duck decoy

Having a spread of 12-36 decoy ducks is a good start to set the stage.

©iStock.com/Vershinin

Whether you’ve been invited along on your first hunt or you are an experienced hunter here is a list of gear you will need for duck hunting season in Nebraska:

  • Shotgun: a 12 gauge or 20 gauge, can only hold three shells
  • Gun case/bag/sleeve: waterproof is a must
  • Shells: 3” shells are common, shot must be nontoxic
  • Decoys: Have you seen the latest mallard duck decoys? They are so realistic. Not just in coloration but in the multiple poses that you would find in a floating flock of natural ducks. Having a spread of 12-36 ducks is a good start to set the stage. Experiment with different patterns like the J-hook or X for starters. See what is working for other hunters as well.
  • Duck callers: Having a good duck caller is not good enough, you really need to practice your calls so you have the most accurate duck calls. Especially if you haven’t pulled out a caller since last season, spend some time listening to audio and get out on the water to listen to live ducks in your area.
  • Cooler: Pack some snacks! If you are planning an early morning hunt, ready to take your first shot a ½ hour before sunrise but the ducks disappoint you are going to need a load of patience and some snacks. After being up since 4am, when 9:00am rolls around you’re going to be hungry. Having a well-stocked cooler with snacks, sandwiches and plenty of water will make your hunt much more enjoyable.

What is the Best Kind of Blind?

Northern Minnesota wetland

Take time to set out your decoys, set up your blind and be ready to go when the first wave of ducks may arrive.

©Dan Thornberg/Shutterstock.com

Choosing a blind depends on the kind of hunting you enjoy. You can hunt without a blind, show up in your waders with your dog and duck behind some cattails and reeds. Or you can bring a commercial grade A-frame or pit blind. If you will be hunting along some of the wetlands in Nebraska or off the fields you can use a layout which is like a camouflaged sleeping bag that lies on the ground. You can also use a boat blind for larger hunting parties or to get to more remote areas.

What Should you Wear Duck Hunting?

Proper Hunting Gear is important

Duck hunting has a reputation for being gear heavy, but it doesn’t have to be.

©Scharfsin/Shutterstock.com

If you are hunting on the North Platte River in September for the early teal season it is very different than just a couple months later for hunting mallards in January. You know the temps drop in Nebraska so be prepared. Here is what you should wear for duck hunting:

  • Boots: Ya gotta have good boots! Find a comfortable pair of boots that are also warm especially for late season hunting. Think about the habitat that you plan to hunt in and get a pair of boots to match.
  • Waders: Having a nice pair of waders will make your hunt much more comfortable, especially if you are retrieving your own ducks vs working with your dog. Waders can be bought separate from your boots or as one-piece boot/wader combos.
  • Camo: Ducks have good eyesight and can see color so you need to take this one seriously. If you want to blend in you have to have camo that matches your surroundings. The camo they make today is really detailed and habitat specific. Don’t forget to cover your head and face.
  • Life vest or PFD: If you will be hunting from a duck boat, kayak or canoe be sure to wear a USCG approved life vest. They make ones specifically for duck hunting to allow for full movement.

Hunting with your Dog

Types of Pointer Dogs

Working together as a team in the field can be quite a bonding experience.

©Best dog photo/Shutterstock.com

It can be so rewarding to hunt with your dog. Think about all the training that goes into getting your pup to be obedient, well trained, learn to track where ducks fall and carefully bring them back. Working together as a team in the field can be quite a bonding experience. If you are considering getting a gun dog, some of the best duck dogs are Labs, Goldens, Chesapeake Bay and Nova Scotia Duck-tolling retrievers.

Factors for Success

Mallard Ducks

Check the weekly duck migration reports and follow the success of other hunters.

©Jim Nelson/Shutterstock.com

Three key factors in a successful hunt are blind location, decoy spread and weather. For choosing the best location you need to be up to date on the migration schedule of ducks in your area. Ducks don’t have a Google calendar but they do react predictably to changes in the temperature, barometric pressure and food availability. Check weekly reports on sightings and then scout out the area you plan to hunt.

Plan out your decoy spread as well, choose the location and pattern you want to try and make note of wind direction for the best placement.

Although you can’t change the weather, you can check the forecast a few days before your hunt to plan ahead for what to wear, especially making note of rain or later in the season, snow. Cooler, windy overcast days are actually some of the best weather for duck hunting.

Where are the Best Places to Duck Hunt in Nebraska?

Cub Creek Recreation Area

The best places to duck hunt in Nebraska are around the Waterfowl Production Areas.

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

The best places to duck hunt in Nebraska are around the Waterfowl Production Areas. Mallard Haven, Funk and Smith WPA’s just off Hwy 80 in east central Nebraska have good duck hunting. You can also find good hunting on the North Platte River just west of Omaha. There are also plenty of shallow lakes in the Sandhills in the High Plains region of the state.

Meet the Species: 3 of the Most Common Ducks in Nebraska

Highest Flying Birds-Mallard

Mallards can fly nearly vertical if needed. This includes taking off from the water almost straight up.

©Jeffry Weymier/Shutterstock.com

  • Mallard: The number one duck in Nebraska is also the number one duck in North America. Mallards, or greenheads, are easily recognized with their emerald green heads, vibrant yellow beak, blue stripe on their wings and orange legs.
  • Blue-winged teal: Blue-winged teal and green-winged teal look similar with green patches on their wings (speculum) but the upper area of the blue-winged teal is blueish gray. Their heads also lack the green patch behind the eye like the green-winged. They have a white crescent in front of their eyes.  
  • Green-winged teal: The green-winged teal has a green crescent that flows back from its eyes. It matches the green on the speculum of their wings making them a marvelous bird to bring in. Green-wing teals are the smallest of the dabbler ducks in Nebraska.

Up Next

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/marekuliasz


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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can you duck hunt in Nebraska?

Yes, you can duck hunt in Nebraska. You need a small game hunting permit, Nebraska habitat stamp, Nebraska waterfowl stamp, Federal duck stamp and Harvest Information Program number.

When does duck hunting season start in Nebraska?

Duck hunting season starts on Oct. 1, 2022 with Zone 2 being the first to open. Zone 1 follows on Oct. 15 and Zone 3 and 4 open Oct. 22.

What are the most common ducks in Nebraska?

The most common ducks harvested in Nebraska are mallard, blue-winged teal and green-winged teal.

What is the bag limit for Mallard ducks in Nebraska?

With a Tier 1 license the bag limit is 5 mallards with no more than 2 of those being female. With a Tier 2 license the bag limit is 3 with any combination of males and females.

How does Nebraska rank in the country for duck harvest numbers?

Nebraska is ranked 26th in duck harvest (based on a 10-year average).

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Nebraska Game Parks, Available here: http://outdoornebraska.gov/ducktiers/
  2. Nebraska Game Parks, Available here: http://outdoornebraska.gov/waterfowlspecies
  3. Ducks Unlimited, Available here: https://www.ducks.org/hunting/waterfowl-hunting-tips/15-tips-for-duck-hunters
  4. The Cornell Lab, Available here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue-winged_Teal/id
  5. Nebraska Game Parks, Available here: https://outdoornebraska.gov/waterfowlchecklist/