Most Visited Locations

Eastern Arkansas

Known as the Duck Capital of the World, Stuttgart, Arkansas, has long been a favorite destination for waterfowl hunters from near and far—and for good reason. Extensive rice production, naturally flooded bottomland hardwoods, and intensively managed green-tree reservoirs make the broad alluvial plain surrounding Stuttgart a winter paradise for mallards—and duck hunters. For those willing to work for their birds, good public hunting is available on the nearly 34,000-acre Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson and Arkansas counties and the 160,000-acre White River National Wildlife Refuge, spanning nearly 90 miles in four counties.

When it’s hot: late November-January

Abundant species: mallards, pintails, wood ducks, green-winged teal, gadwalls, white-fronted geese, lesser snow geese


Acre for acre, California supports more wintering waterfowl than anywhere else in North America. At peak times, this region hosts 5 to 7 million wintering waterfowl—more than 60 percent of the Pacific Flyway’s ducks and geese. As you would expect, the high ratio of birds to habitat results in some superb waterfowl hunting. This is especially true on private duck clubs in places such as Butte Sink, Suisun Marsh, and the Grasslands. Good public hunting is also available on several intensively managed national wildlife refuges and state wildlife areas in the region, which also support large numbers of wintering waterfowl.

When it’s hot: late November-January

Abundant species: pintails, mallards, wigeon, green-winged teal, Aleutian cackling geese, white-fronted geese, light geese

Chesapeake Bay

The cradle of American waterfowling, Chesapeake Bay has a rich sporting heritage dating back to Captain John Smith, who first hunted in the region during the early 1600s. More than 400 years later, the region remains a good place to hunt a variety of waterfowl. The nation’s largest estuary is among the Atlantic Flyway’s most important migration and wintering areas for dabblers and divers. In addition, nearly the entire population of Atlantic Canada geese winters along Maryland’s Eastern Shore and surrounding areas. Public waterfowl hunting opportunities abound on the bay itself as well as on wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges.

When it’s hot: December-January

Abundant species: mallards, black ducks, green-winged teal, canvasbacks, Canada geese, greater snow geese

South Louisiana

Any survey of North America’s top waterfowl hunting areas would have to include Louisiana. America’s Wetland—as south Louisiana’s coastal marshes are collectively known—supports upwards of 9 million migrating and wintering ducks on average. Some of the state’s best duck hunting can be found on the Chenier Plain in southwest Louisiana. Freelancers equipped with shallow-running duck boats will find plenty of public hunting opportunities on the massive Sabine and Lacassine national wildlife refuges in Cameron Parish.

When it’s hot: late November-January

Abundant species: gadwalls, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, pintails, mottled ducks, white-fronted geese, lesser snow geese

Mississippi Flyway

During the 1930s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a series of locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River, creating a vast network of shallow open water, islands, and marsh along the borders of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, these wetlands attract droves of staging waterfowl during migration. At peak times, more than 50 percent of the continent’s canvasbacks as well as thousands of other ducks, geese, and swans gather on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Public hunting is allowed throughout much of this sprawling 240,000-acre area, and waterfowlers equipped for hunting big water have good success gunning from points and islands along the shoreline.

When it’s hot: late October-November

Abundant species: canvasbacks, redheads, lesser scaup, mallards, Canada geese.

North Dakota

Whether you are pursuing Canada geese, light geese, dabbling ducks, or divers, you can find them in abundance somewhere in North Dakota. Located in the heart of the prairie Duck Factory, this state supported more than 8 million breeding ducks in 2009 and hosts even larger numbers of staging waterfowl during the fall migration. Hunting access is available on a variety of public lands in the eastern half of the state, including federal waterfowl production areas, state wildlife management areas, and properties enrolled in the state’s Private Lands Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) program.

When it’s hot: October-early November

Abundant species: mallards, pintails, gadwalls, green-winged teal, lesser scaup, Canada geese, lesser snow geese

Texas Panhandle

The Texas Panhandle lies in the heart of what is known as the playa lakes region, also encompassing parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Much like the prairie potholes of the northern Great Plains, playas are dependent on seasonal precipitation, and in those special years when timely rainfall replenishes these unique wetlands, the Panhandle fills up with incredible numbers of waterfowl. Hunting pressure is light across much of this sparsely populated region. Freelance waterfowlers can often receive permission from landowners to hunt waterfowl on playas and private agricultural land.

When it’s hot: late November-December

Abundant species: mallards, pintails, wigeon, green-winged teal, Canada geese

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