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Youth hunter concealed in a blind

Ducks have great eyesight and are good at detecting movement, so make sure you and your boat/blind are fully camouflaged and you sit still when waterfowl are approaching.


Hunt with the wind at your back. Decoying/landing birds most often land into the wind.

The most effective way to use decoys is to mimic what you are seeing the birds doing. If teal are sitting in small groups scattered throughout a wetland, use a small amount of decoys in the same fashion. If you are seeing ring-necked ducks landing in larger groups of coots, use a larger spread of coot decoys to attract them.

Decoy Spreads: J or Hook Pattern and V Pattern
Decoy patterns: Double O Pattern and Diver Spread Pattern

Taking the Shot

The effective range of most shotguns is 40 yards. Shooting beyond that distance is unethical and often leads to wounding birds that you don’t recover.

Identify and select a single bird as a target before shooting. Shooting into a flock often results in a miss or wounded birds.

Most hunters aim at the tip of the bill of flying waterfowl for the most ethical shot placement. It is important to follow through with your shot and continue to swing the shotgun after pulling the trigger. Visit a shooting range to become more familiar with your shotgun and practice your wingshooting. Skeet and sporting clays provide moving targets at multiple angles, which can be helpful to duck hunters.

Make sure you only shoot at waterfowl species you have positively identified, know are legal to take and are within your bag and possession limits.


Female hunters petting a black labrador

Dogs, especially retrievers, labs and spaniels, can help find and retrieve downed waterfowl, especially if the water is too deep for wading. Use caution during the early September season and on warm days because alligators may be active.

FAQs About Waterfowl Hunting

Find guides and outfitters at

Visit the FWC’s new hunter webpage.

Banded duck

Please report banded birds to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at Be prepared to provide the number on the band, the date and location where the bird was harvested, and what species of waterfowl it is. The data received from duck band reporting provides valuable information about duck survival, the species, age, and gender of birds harvested, and waterfowl movements and migration. The information is used to manage waterfowl including setting annual hunting season dates and bag limits.