Waterfowl & Migratory Game Birds
Waterfowl Hunting Zones
North: That part of Indiana north of a line extending east from the Illinois border along State Road 18 to U.S. 31; north along U.S. 31 to U.S. 24; east along U.S. 24 to Huntington; southeast along U.S. 224; south along State Road 5; and east along State Road 124 to the Ohio border.
Central: That part of Indiana south of the North Zone boundary and north of the South Zone boundary.
South: That part of Indiana south of a line extending east from the Illinois border along I-70; east along National Ave; east along U.S. 150; south along U.S. 41; east along State Road 58; south along State Road 37 to Bedford; and east along U.S. 50 to the Ohio border.
Migratory game birds and waterfowl include:
Note: Either a game bird habitat stamp or waterfowl stamp is needed in addition to licenses. See requirements below.
Migratory game bird and waterfowl hunting dates are set by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with Indiana and other states.
No person shall take migratory game birds:
- With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance.
- From a sink box (a low, floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water).
- From or with the aid or use of a car or other motor-driven land conveyance, or any aircraft, except that paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor-driven land conveyance.
- By the use or aid of live decoys. All live, tame or captive ducks and geese shall be removed for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to hunting, and confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such tame birds from the sight of migratory waterfowl.
- By driving, rallying or chasing birds with any motorized conveyance or any sail boat to put them in the range of the hunters.
- By the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, if the person knows or reasonably should know that the area is baited. Baiting includes the placing of corn, wheat or other grain, salt, or other feed to serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. It is a separate offense to place or direct placement of bait on or adjacent to an area for the purpose of causing or allowing hunters to take or attempt to take birds by the aid of bait or over a baited area. A baited area is considered to be baited for 10 days after complete removal of any bait. The maximum federal penalties are: for hunting over bait: $15,000/6 months jail; placing bait: $100,000/1 year jail.
- With a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells.
- By the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds.
License and Stamp Requirements
Anyone hunting migratory gamebirds (ducks, mergansers, coots, geese, doves, woodcock, sora, snipe) must have an Indiana hunting license and a HIP registration number. An Indiana waterfowl stamp privilege, purchased through a local retailer (see page 1), is also required for hunting ducks and geese. A game bird habitat stamp also is required to hunt mourning doves.
Licenses and stamp privileges are available from retailers and most Department of Natural Resources properties throughout the state.
Resident and non-resident youth age 17 or younger are exempt from needing a state migratory waterfowl stamp.
Commemorative (traditional) waterfowl stamps do not convey hunting privileges. Additionally, anyone 16 years old or older must have a signed Federal duck stamp when hunting ducks and geese. Landowners or lessees, hunting on farmed land they own or lease, need to get a a Federal duck stamp when hunting waterfowl, and a free HIP registration number (call 1-866-671-4499 for a HIP number). Order federal duck stamps by calling 1-800-782-6724 or by visiting the federal duck stamps website and following the directions to the proper links.
Waterfowl Hunting on State Areas
Be sure to check at area headquarters concerning open hunting areas and other special regulations that are in effect on all fish and wildlife areas and reservoirs.
Reserved waterfowl hunts will be held at Goose Pond, LaSalle, Kankakee, Kingsbury, Hovey Lake, Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife areas, Lake Monroe and Brookville Reservoir. Reserved Hunt Information and applications are available online.
For more information concerning waterfowl hunting on state-owned properties, contact the property.
Hunters are required to use approved non-toxic shot while hunting all waterfowl. Hunters are also required to use non-toxic shot to hunt mourning doves on all DNR properties. Non-toxic shot types currently approved for use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are: bismuth-tin, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-bronze, tungsten-tin-bismuth, tungsten-tin-iron-nickel, tungsten-nickel-iron, tungsten-iron-copper-nickel, tungsten-tin-iron, iron (steel), copper-clad iron, corrosion-inhibited copper, and tungsten-iron-polymer. Copper-plated, zinc chromate-plated, zinc chloride-plated and nickel-plated steel shot are approved as long as the plating represents less than one percent of the shot’s weight. Lead shots plated with copper, nickel or other material are not legal. It is illegal to possess shells loaded with anything other than approved non-toxic shot while hunting ducks, geese and coots anywhere in the state. Additional shot restrictions may be in place at select state fish and wildlife areas. For details, check with the property where you plan to hunt.
The list of shot types approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is occasionally updated. You can find that list here: https://www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/hunting/nontoxic.php.
Shell Capacity Limit
It is illegal to hunt migratory birds (ducks, mergansers, coots, geese, doves, woodcock, sora, snipe) with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun. It is illegal to use a shotgun larger than 10-gauge.
Hunting from a Boat
Migratory game birds may be hunted from a motorboat provided it is beached, resting at anchor, tied to a stationary object, or without motion other than that imparted by wind and current acting upon the hull, or due to hand-operated oars or paddles.
While in the field or traveling from the field to your home, migratory game birds in your possession must have one fully feathered wing or head attached to the carcass for identification purposes.
All migratory game birds killed or crippled shall be retrieved, if possible, and retained in the custody of the hunter in the field. You may retrieve dead or injured birds by hand or from a motorboat under power, but crippled birds may not be shot from a boat under power or in motion due to motor power.
Shooting hours for geese and ducks are 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset. Shooting hours may vary at some DNR properties. Check property regulations before hunting.
Ohio River Regulations
Indiana waterfowlers must have an Indiana hunting license and appropriate stamps and hunt only when the waterfowl season is open in Indiana when hunting on the Indiana shoreline of the Ohio River, including tributaries and embayments. Hunting from the mainstem (only) of the Ohio River can be with either state’s hunting license and appropriate stamp(s) and must be during the open season in the state for which you are licensed. A person hunting on the Ohio River in Kentucky embayments, tributaries, islands, and on the Kentucky shoreline must have a Kentucky hunting license and appropriate stamp(s) and hunt only when the waterfowl season is open in Kentucky.
Shipping Migratory Birds
No person shall ship migratory game birds unless the package is marked on the outside with: (a) the name and address of the person sending the birds, (b) the name and address of the person to whom the birds are being sent, and (c) the number of birds, by species, contained in the package.
Report Bird Bands
All waterfowl hunters are urged to report bird bands to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by visiting http://www.reportband.gov. Band information is used in the management of waterfowl populations and assists biologists in providing optimum hunting opportunities.
State and Federal Regulation Reminders
- All persons hunting ducks and geese in Indiana must have an Indiana hunting license and a signed Indiana Migratory Waterfowl Stamp and a HIP validation number. Additionally, all persons 16 years or older must have a signed federal duck stamp to hunt waterfowl. Federal migratory bird hunting stamps are available at most post offices. State waterfowl stamps are available from many hunting and fishing license vendors.
- Indiana enforces all federal migratory bird laws. Any violation of any provision of any state law regarding any federally protected migratory bird is also a violation of federal law.
- Migratory game birds may be hunted from a motorboat provided it is beached, resting at anchor, tied to a stationary object, or without motion other than that imparted by wind and current acting upon the hull, or due to hand-operated oars or paddles.
- You may retrieve dead or injured birds by hand or from a motorboat under power, but crippled birds may NOT be shot from a boat under power or in motion due to motor power.
- While in the field or traveling from the field to your home, migratory game birds in your possession must have one fully feathered wing or head attached to the carcass for identification purposes.
- All migratory game birds killed or crippled shall be retrieved, if possible, and retained in the custody of the hunter in the field.
- No person shall give, put or leave any migratory game birds at any place or in the custody of another person unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the following information:
- The hunter’s signature.
- The hunter’s address.
- The total number of birds involved, by species.
- The dates such birds were killed.
No person or business shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged
Migratory bird hunters must register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP)
Licensed hunters in Indiana must register with the National Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) before they hunt ducks, mergansers, coots, geese, doves, woodcock, sora, snipe.
Hunters must register for a HIP number online or over the phone and provide the information requested. After registering, the hunter is given a validation number to record on his or her license. This number is valid from the date of registration through the close of the last current migratory bird hunting season. Lifetime license holders must also register with HIP. Resident landowners and tenants who hunt on their own land must also now register with HIP.
In addition to providing their name and address, hunters are asked questions designed to identify which species they hunted last year and, in some cases, the number of birds they harvested. Hunters need only register once each season, not each time they hunt. However, if they hunt in more than one state, they must register with HIP in each state they hunt in.
HIP is a joint effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies. The program is designed to improve harvest estimates for migratory game birds nationwide. Once the harvest information is gathered, the information is used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and states to ensure that decisions regarding hunting seasons are soundly based on scientific evidence.