What Is Waterfowl Hunting?
If upland hunting is the "head" side of the bird-hunting, water hunting is the "tails." Like upland hunting, waterfowling happens across the country, but with a crucial difference. Waterfowling depends on water. While you may find ducks and geese away from it at times, you'll find most of them in it, or in areas right along it, throughout the hunting season.
Waterfowling also differs from upland hunting because it has flyways. These are the north-south routes ducks and geese migrated along every year. There are four major flyways in North America: Pacific, Central, Mississippi and Atlantic. Some types of waterfowl live and travel along all of them. Others concentrate around just a few. And while these flyways contain many different types of waterfowl, a few species are the most common:
Someone say "ducks"!
Along with these species, there are many other kinds of ducks, including Teal, Pintails, Widgeons, Buffleheads, Mergansers and Eiders. Part of the fun of waterfowling (and one of your responsibilities as a duck hunter) is to learn the key markings and common characteristics of these birds. Come fall, this knowledge will help you hunt more successfully—and in line with state and federal regulations.
Going for Geese
Of course, the Canada goose and the Snow goose are just a few of the types of geese out there. Hunters also pursue other species, including the White-fronted Goose, the Ross's Goose, and Brants.
For more than just approval
Another way waterfowl hunting differs from upland hunting is the way these gamebirds are managed. The population and conservation of most upland birds—pheasants, quail, grouse—is managed by the states. That's why the rules and regulations vary as you travel across the country.
But because waterfowl migrate from region to region, they're are overseen by the Federal government. And one of the Fed's requirements is that anyone 16 years of age or older has to buy a Federal Duck Stamp to hunt these birds. On top of this, some states offer their own stamps aimed at raising funds to conserve migratory waterfowl.
Before you head into the field, be sure to check your state's laws regarding waterfowl hunting. Doing this well help you keep you from running "afoul" of any of these requirements or regulations.
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