Where to Hunt
Waterfowl hunting is permitted on private property with landowner permission and on any water body that
has public access (public boat landing/launch). However, some public water bodies may be closed for
specific reasons, such as being in a park or in an area where the discharge of firearms is prohibited. In
addition, wildlife management areas, water management district lands and national wildlife refuges that
offer duck hunting may have special permit requirements and restrictions on when and where you can hunt.
Waterfowl Hunting Areas
A variety of divers and dabblers sporadically use the shallow bays and inlets throughout the northwest Florida coast (Perdido Bay east to Piney Island). Redheads often winter in large numbers offshore. Winds, tides, fog and oyster bars coupled with large areas of shallow water can make hunting in open waters of the bays challenging. Scouting is a must.
This is a large, shallow lake accessible by boat from Apalachicola via the Jackson River (Intracoastal Waterway). When heavily vegetated with plants that grow underwater, Lake Wimico supports a wide variety of diving and dabbling ducks.
Lake Seminole is a large, man-made reservoir in Jackson County that straddles the Florida-Georgia state line. The state line approximately corresponds to the marked navigation channel up the Chattahoochee River. Hunters must have a Georgia license to hunt on the Georgia side of the lake. The portion of the lake west of Highway 271 and some adjacent shoreline areas east of Highway 271 are within the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area, which has special regulations. The lake offers opportunity for ring-necked ducks and historically attracts wigeon and canvasbacks. The ring-necked ducks are found in areas of topped-out hydrilla, which vary from year to year. Teal, wood ducks and some of the larger dabbling duck species are taken by hunters from the more remote areas. This is a large, open-water lake with numerous stumps, so boaters should be cautious.
Being close to Tallahassee, hunting pressure can be high at these lakes. Lakes Iamonia and Miccosukee are large (approximately 6,000 acres), shallow, sinkhole lakes, with areas of abundant, thick vegetation. The most common ducks on both lakes are ring-necked ducks, teal and wood ducks. Lake Jackson (4,000 acres) is less heavily vegetated and can hold a variety of dabbling ducks. Somewhat smaller but very heavily vegetated, Carr Lake is just north of Lake Jackson and offers some good hunting opportunities. It is important to note these lakes are subject to specific hunting days and motor restrictions during the regular duck season and have permanent blind restrictions. Learn more about these special regulations.
This impounded salt marsh in Taylor County is part of the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. The impoundment is managed to provide brackish marsh habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. The area provides hunting opportunities with variable success for species such as teal, gadwall and wigeon. This WMA has specific regulations and is open to hunting on certain days. Refer to the Big Bend - Hickory Mound Unit WMA regulations for more information.
This 2,400-acre management area is on reclaimed phosphate mining land in Hamilton County. All duck hunting takes place on Beehaven Bay Pond. The area has specific regulations and is open to hunting on certain days. Refer to the Nutrien - White Springs WMA regulations for more information.
This sinkhole lake is comprised of an interconnected north and south basin that totals about 340 acres of open water. Waterfowl hunting on the lake basins is permitted daily outside of the city limits and is subject to statewide waterfowl season regulations. A separate area known as the Alligator Lake Public Small Game Hunting Area totals about 500 acres and is managed independently from the lake basins. This area represents an isolated portion of the lake that was diked and drained in the mid-1950s for agricultural production. Waterfowl hunting is restricted to certain days of the week. Refer to the Alligator Lake PSGHA regulations for more information.
This basin includes areas in the north central and northeast regions and includes the Orange Creek Public Small Game Hunting Area, and Orange, Lochloosa and Newnans lakes. The Orange Creek PSGHA comprises approximately 3,400 acres east of Highway 301. The area has specific regulations. Orange, Lochloosa and Newnans lakes, which lie west of Highway 301, have marshy areas that can provide attractive duck habitat depending on water levels. In years when hydrilla is abundant and growing to the surface, counts of ring-necked ducks have been as high as 3,000-5,000. Resident wood ducks and black-bellied whistling ducks use the lakes as well. There are several public and private access points.
This area offers a variety of managed wetland habitats that include Lake Ponte Vedra, a 2,300-acre brackish impoundment, and several smaller ponds and impoundments located in the adjacent uplands. Hunters can find a variety of ducks at Guana, ranging from teal to diving ducks. This wildlife management has specific regulations and is open to hunting only on certain days. A quota permit is required, (except during youth hunts). Refer to the Guana River - Lake Ponte Vedra PSGHA for more information. Contact the Guana River WMA office for current information at 904-825-6877.
Ring-necked ducks are most common. The abundance of hydrilla determines the ring-necked duck population, and hydrilla conditions vary dramatically from year to year. Rodman Reservoir is a deep-water reservoir built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Numerous stumps and floating logs create boating hazards.
This area in Marion County consists of 2,400 acres of impounded marsh along the Ocklawaha Canal. Refer to the Ocklawaha Prairie PSGHA regulations for more information. This area requires an Ocklawaha Prairie waterfowl quota permit (except during youth hunts).
This area in Lake County consists of old muck farms in the floodplain of Lake Griffin that have been restored as wetlands. Habitat conditions can be favorable to duck hunting in some years. Refer to the Emeralda Marsh PSGHA regulations for more information.
This national wildlife refuge, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides good duck habitat and traditionally holds concentrations of wigeon and pintails. Teal, mottled ducks and scaup also are common. Hunting pressure can be high. Hunting is allowed only in certain areas and on certain days by permit. You can obtain the specific regulations by contacting the refuge headquarters at 321-861-0667.
Find additional information about Merritt Island NWR hunts, hunting, permits and hunt quotas.
The upper basin of the St. Johns River, from Indian River County north to Lake Harney, historically has been considered among the best waterfowl habitat in the state. This extensive area provides many opportunities for diverse hunting experiences in terms of species, habitats and modes of hunting. However, the diverse and constantly changing habitats require extensive scouting to find and access good hunting spots. St. John’s Water Management District allows walk-in access to certain areas where you don’t need a boat. Much of the area south of Lake Poinsett is within the Upper St. Johns River Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Otherwise, statewide regulations apply. Refer to the Upper St. Johns River Marsh WMA regulations and the St. John’s River Water Management District website for more information.
Collectively, these two areas comprise 6,600 acres in the upper St. Johns River basin. These areas are managed by the FWC to provide high-quality habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. This area is open to hunting on Tuesdays and Saturdays only and requires a quota permit (except during youth hunts). Public access is controlled through the area headquarters. Call 321-726-2862 or refer to the T.M. Goodwin PSGHA regulations for more information.
Concentrations of scaup and redheads can sometimes be found in open water, especially in Old Tampa Bay south of the Highway 60 causeway. A variety of dabbling ducks use habitats associated with spoil islands in Hillsborough Bay created by dredging navigation channels. Access to some areas may be restricted, particularly spoil islands; otherwise statewide regulations apply. Winds and tides coupled with large areas of shallow water can make boating challenging.
Excellent duck hunting opportunities exist on many of the large public lakes in central Florida. Ring-necked ducks and teal are most abundant. These lakes include the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes (Kissimmee, Tohopekaliga, East Tohopekaliga, Cypress and Hatchineha), lakes Pierce, Marion and Weohyakapka in Polk County, and Lake Istokpoga in Highlands County. Habitat conditions on these lakes change from year to year. As a result, duck hunting is unpredictable. Of the lakes in this region, Lake Kissimmee consistently supports the most birds because its extensive natural marsh provides habitat in addition to hydrilla and other underwater plants.
Lake Okeechobee is one of Florida's more popular and historically acclaimed areas for duck hunting. Good hunting opportunities are still available but habitat quality has degraded because of water-level stabilization and high levels of nutrient input. This lake still attracts large numbers of wintering ducks, including ring-necked ducks and a variety of dabbling duck species. These birds primarily are found in the marshes along the western shore from Okeechobee to Moore Haven. Hunting pressure in this area can be high. Large flocks of scaup (up to 90,000) are often found in the middle, open-water portions of the lake but conditions make them difficult to hunt. Maps showing access points and other information may be obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Statewide regulations apply.
Collectively these three WMAs, which are managed by the FWC, encompass over 700,000 acres in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties. In any given year, the WMAs and Everglades may provide good waterfowl habitat and hunting opportunities depending on water levels, ongoing restoration projects and management activities. Teal, mottled ducks and ring-necked ducks can be abundant. All areas have specific regulations. Refer to the following WMA regulations for more information:
The stormwater treatment areas (STAs) and A-1 FEB are home to large areas of underwater plants that reach the water’s surface, which attracts a variety of dabbling ducks and diving ducks, including pintails, wigeon and the occasional canvasback. These filter marshes, whose primary function is to clean water going into the Everglades, provide hunting opportunities through limited entry/quota hunts. These areas are paddle in only, so most hunters use canoes or kayaks to get across ditches and arrive at their hunting locations. Hunts are held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, depending on the area. Refer to the following regulations information: