Hunting is a pastime and sometimes a necessity for many people in the United States. Every year, waterfowl hunters work hard to harvest birds like ducks and geese. Still, for many, the passion lies with duck hunting. The United States is home to numerous diverse landscapes and natural habitats offering exceptional hunting opportunities for duck hunters. From the wetlands in The South to the marshes of The Pacific Northwest, it is hard to choose the states with the best duck hunting.
What is the most hunted duck in America?
The most hunted duck in America is the mallard. It is one of the most familiar and recognizable ducks in the world. Mallards are native to countries across the Northern Hemisphere. Most people recognize the male due to its green plumage on the head with a white ring around its neck.
What are the states with the best duck hunting?
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Hunter Activity and Harvest Report, there were 913,700 active waterfowl hunters during the 2022-2023 season. There are four migratory flyways in the United States: The Atlantic Flyway, The Mississippi Flyway, The Central Flyway, and The Pacific Flyway. Hunters understand the specifics of each flyway to determine the migration patterns and specific duck species throughout the country. Because of this, there are numerous active duck-hunting states throughout the country. Read on to learn the 16 states with the best duck hunting in the United States.
Ask any waterfowl hunter, and they will tell you that Arkansas is one of the top states with the best duck hunting. Home to more than 24 duck species, duck hunters will travel across the country to reap the benefits of the Arkansas duck habitat.
In fact, Stuttgart, AR, is the “duck and rice capital of the world.” The Arkansas Grand Prarie surrounds the town and contributes to making Arkansas the top commercial rice-producing state in the country. The rice fields and reservoirs are attractive to waterfowl in the Mississippi Flyway, and duck hunters take advantage during the migration season.
Over 73,000 waterfowl hunters actively hunt ducks in Louisiana annually, and it is the number one state in the country for duck harvest. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries states that Louisiana is the most important winter migration area for waterfowl in the United States. Louisiana features a wide range of duck species in addition to mallards like wood ducks, black ducks, blue-winged and green-winged teal, and gadwall.
Because Louisiana is approximately 8,000 square miles of water, thriving duck habitats are easy to find. Cajun influences affect duck hunting in Louisiana as well. From the cooking style to the duck calling technique, Cajun culture has a tremendous impact on Louisana duck hunts and harvests.
Missouri is surrounded by the Missouri River and the Mississippi River, making it a prime state for duck hunting. In fact, duck hunting in Missouri is so popular that reservations are required at certain hunting spots. Duck species in Missouri include mallards, widgeon, teal, gadwalls, and pintails.
In 2023, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Ducks Unlimited (DU) announced upgrades to improve historic wetlands. This investment in habitat improvements will continue to help duck habitats thrive in the state.
4. North Dakota
Traditionally, duck hunting in North Dakota attracts both locals and non-residents. North Dakota is part of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), a vast area of depressional wetlands located in the Great Plains. The PPR provides exceptional waterfowl habitat as ducks and geese migrate through. North Dakota is also one of the states with the best duck hunting because it is the first US state to receive migrating birds from Canada through the Central Flyway.
Kansas is the perfect spot for duck hunting with its rolling hills, fields, and wetlands. Located in the Central Flyway, waterfowl migrate directly through Kansas as they head south for the winter. Also, Kansas is home to the Cheyenne Bottoms, one of the largest natural marshes in the country.
This type of wetland combined with the Missouri River and the Kansas River provides premium waterfowl habitat and hunting opportunities. While there are numerous duck species in Kansas, mallards make up the majority of ducks harvested.
Like many states, Texas offers great duck hunting opportunities to waterfowl enthusiasts. With an abundance of interior and coastal wetlands, duck hunting is a common tradition in Texas. Because of its size, Texas duck hunting seasons are divided into regional zones like many other states.
While there are many duck species available in Texas, hunters like to take advantage of unique species like pintails, cinnamon teal, and blue-winged teal.
Some people don’t realize Nebraska is an active duck-hunting state, especially in the northeast corner. Between the North Platte River and the Missouri River, there are numerous resident and migratory ducks to hunt during the highly anticipated season.
Common ducks in Nebraska include mallards, teal, wood ducks, and more. Many people hunt near the Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) throughout Nebraska to guarantee a better hunt.
8. South Dakota
South Dakota has extensive public land, making it easy for outdoor enthusiasts to hunt throughout the state. A diverse state, South Dakota is home to rolling prairies, promised wetlands, scenic lakes, and mountains. Numerous duck species travel through South Dakota during migration down the Central Flyway.
There are different hunting zones established throughout the state. Also, hunters enjoy South Dakota duck hunting because of the early seasons. Many hunters bring duck hunting dogs trained to retrieve fallen birds for harvesting as well.
If you’re planning a duck hunt this year, consider traveling to Minnesota. Also called the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota is one of the best states for duck hunting. It is the first state in the Mississippi Flyway to see migrating waterfowl from Canada, an attractive quality to a duck hunter.
One of the best parts about duck hunting in Minnesota is the diverse landscape. In addition to its many lakes, Minnesota is home to numerous rivers, ponds, marshes, and potholes. Many duck hunters choose to hunt with layout boats on the Great Lakes as well.
Similar to Minnesota, Wisconsin is a popular duck-hunting state because of its access to a diverse landscape. Wisconsin is home to numerous duck wetland habitats such as lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes, and potholes.
In fact, one of the best places to hunt in Wisconsin is near Prairie du Chien. This town is near where the Mississippi River and Wisconsin River meet. This area creates a duck paradise. Puddles and marshes form throughout the nearby farm fields, which provides a migratory duck the best of both worlds — food and water. Of course, a duck’s paradise is simultaneously a duck hunter’s paradise.
The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place to hunt. In addition to the fantastic duck habitat, the views are unbeatable. Located in the Pacific Flyway, Washington is one of the states with the best duck hunting in the United States. Hunters enjoy the opportunity to experience a plethora of dabbling ducks, diving ducks, and sea ducks.
Eastern Washington is a great place for duck hunting in Washington, especially in Grant County. Hunters also enjoy the opportunity to hunt in coastal areas like the Puget Sound.
California is one of the most diverse states in the country, and it provides great duck hunting habitats for hunters to enjoy as well. Because California is so vast, there is a large duck population. There are approximately 30 duck species in California including mallards, teal, and canvasbacks.
Many hunters claim Central California is one of the best places in the state to hunt unique species like pintails and cinnamon teal.
You can’t beat the scenic views and landscapes when hunting in Oregon. Throw in its well-known duck population, and Oregon makes the list as one of the best states for duck hunting. Ironically, the University of Oregon mascot is a duck!
Similar to Washington, hunters enjoy taking advantage of the variety of duck habitats throughout the state. Oregon is home to beautiful rivers and lakes, but many hunters also enjoy the coastal habitat. Sea ducks like harlequin and scoter are widely sought-after duck species. As always, confirm the permits and licensing process with each state prior to hunting.
Duck hunting in Maryland is a long-standing tradition throughout the state. Maryland is a unique state for duck hunters because of the access to the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Coast, and the Potomac River. Duck hunters take advantage of the coastal opportunities annually.
Maryland duck hunters also enjoy hunting inland. Numerous wildlife areas are Wildlife Management Areas within the state that help maintain fragile ecosystems. Hunters are likely to harvest mallards, buffleheads, and wood ducks in Maryland.
15. North Carolina
Are you planning a duck hunt on the East Coast? North Carolina is nestled within the Atlantic Flyway and is one of the best states for duck hunting. In addition to the Atlantic Coast, hunters enjoy the active duck habitats in the rivers, wetlands, and marshes.
Another draw to North Carolina is the Pamlico Sound. The Pamlico Sound is the largest lagoon on the East Coast and a duck-hunting paradise. Part of a larger system of estuaries, migratory ducks flock to the Pamlico Sound annually.
Similar to many other southern states, Tennessee offers fantastic duck hunting. Duck hunters often travel to Tennessee to hunt within the Mississippi Flyway directly on the Mississippi River. Because of the other lakes and wetlands throughout Tennessee, hunters harvest species like mallards, wood ducks, and gadwall.
If that wasn’t enough, Ducks Unlimited (DU) is headquartered in Memphis, TN, the world’s leader in waterfowl and wetland conservation.
Summary of the 16 States With the Best Duck Hunting
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