With so many duck and goose species available to Washington hunters, this might be the time when a prospective waterfowl hunter asks, “Are we going to be tested on this?” The answer is “yes,” but not here. The testing begins when you take to the field and start hunting, because within the daily bag limits and possession limits on ducks and geese there are more restrictive limits on certain species. Shorter seasons and other special regulations are in place for some species as well. A hunter must be able to identify the bird he or she is aiming at, and do it quickly, before pulling the trigger.
If you can’t tell a bufflehead from a brant or a greenhead mallard from a green-wing teal, you have some homework to do before going afield. To get started, spend some time studying the Ducks at a Distance waterfowl identification guide. Also available is the Game Bird Identification section in the Washington State Migratory Waterfowl & Upland Game Seasons pamphlet, available online.
Other excellent duck identification help can be found at Delta Waterfowl Duck Quizzes and Ducks Unlimited’s waterfowl identification page.
Many field guides and other bird identification books also are available, but the most enjoyable way to learn about ducks and geese is to get out there and see them for yourself. The time you spend in the field, whether during hunting season or not, is the best way to increase your knowledge of the birds you hunt.
Being able to identify the ducks and geese you’re hunting ,and understanding the bag limits and hunting seasons for those species is, of course, only one aspect of understanding the rules and regulations of waterfowl hunting. A Washington small game hunting license and migratory bird permit, as well as a federal duck stamp, are required, and if you’re going to hunt sea ducks or brant in western Washington and/or snow geese in Island, Skagit or Snohomish counties, or geese in southwest Washington, you’ll also need a special migratory bird hunting authorization. Nontoxic shot (steel, bismuth, tungsten, etc.) is required for all waterfowl hunting, and hunting is allowed only during specific daylight hours. The details of these and other regulations are included in the Washington State Migratory Waterfowl & Upland Game Seasons pamphlet, and under the Hunting menu on this website.
WATERFOWL QUALITY HUNTS
OTHER WATERFOWL HUNTING INFORMATION