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Waterfowl Seasons

Ducks, coots and mergansers

Waterfowl breeding habitat in the Canadian prairies was variable in 2017, but on average, conditions were quite good. The U.S. prairies were improved over 2016 conditions. Though variable, they were fair to good on average. Habitat in eastern Canada was in much better condition than in 2016.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the mallard breeding population at 10.5 million, lower than 2016 but still 34 percent higher than the long-term average. The total duck population was similar to 2016 at 47.3 million. All dabbling ducks except pintails remain above their long-term averages.

Species Hunting Dates
Teal (Blue- and green-winged only) *Sept. 8 - Sept. 23
Daily bag limit; six, Possession limit: 18. Shooting hours: sunrise to sunset, HIP registration required *No teal hunting on Kankakee FWA.

Regular duck seasons

Zone Dates
North Zone Oct. 20 - Dec. 9, 2018
Dec. 22 - 30, 2018
Central Zone

Oct. 27 - Nov. 4, 2018
Nov. 24, 2018 - Jan. 13, 2019

South Zone Nov. 3 - 11, 2018
Dec. 1, 2018 - Jan. 20, 2019

The daily bag limit for ducks is six. This includes any combination of goldeneyes, ruddy ducks, ring-necked ducks, buffleheads, gadwalls, long-tailed ducks, scoters, teal, wigeon and shovelers. Included in the daily limit of six are additional restrictions on the following:

Mallards: Only four mallards may be taken daily, including not more than two females.

  • Wood ducks: Only three wood ducks may be taken daily.
  • Pintails: Only two pintails may be taken daily.
  • Redheads: Only two redheads may be taken daily.
  • Scaup: Only three scaup may be taken daily.
  • Black ducks: Only two black ducks may be taken daily.
  • Canvasback: Only two canvasbacks may be taken daily.
  • Mottled duck: Only one mottled duck may be taken daily.
  • The daily bag limit for coots is 15.
  • The daily bag for mergansers (which is separate from the duck limit) is five, including not more than two hooded mergansers.
  • Possession limit for ducks, coots and mergansers is three times the daily bag limit.
  • Shooting hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Shooting hours at some DNR properties may vary.


On the subarctic Canadian breeding grounds, spring arrived later than the 5-year average in 2017, and was one of the latest springs on record. Snow pack was  good but melted slowly. A cool, dry June caused production for the Southern James Bay and Mississippi Valley populations to be above average. The survey design was changed in 2016 to detect changes in population rather than to produce a population estimate; therefore, no population estimate is available for 2017 for these long-distance migrant populations.

The estimate of temperate-breeding (giant) Canada geese in the Mississippi Flyway was not yet available at the time of this writing. Preliminary estimates of Indiana’s breeding Canada geese reveal a stable population of 113,000 Canada geese. Spring conditions were quite wet in most of the state again this year, and early reports are that production seems to have been very good again in 2018. The fall Canada goose hunting outlook in Indiana is good.

Zone Dates
North Zone

Sept. 8 - 16, 2018
Oct. 20 - Nov. 25, 2018
Dec. 15, 2018 - Feb. 10, 2019

Central Zone

Sept. 8 - 16, 2018
Oct. 27 - Nov. 11, 2018
Nov. 24, 2018 - Feb. 10, 2019

 South Zone Sept. 8 - 16, 2018
Nov. 3 - 25, 2018
Dec. 1, 2018 - Feb. 10, 2019

The bag limit for all dark geese (Canada, white-fronted and brant) is the same as 2017 seasons. The limit is five dark geese, no more than three of which can be Canada geese. The bag limit in September is five dark geese, all of which can be Canada geese. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit. The daily bag limit for light geese (snow, blue and/or Ross’ geese) is 20, with no possession limit for light geese. Read the light geese conservation order.

Youth waterfowl weekends

Zone Dates
North Zone Oct. 13 - 14, 2018
Central Zone Oct. 20 - 21, 2018
South Zone Oct. 27 - 28, 2018

Hunters must be 17 years of age or younger on the day of the hunt to participate. A federal duck stamp is required for all persons 16 and older. They must also be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age. An adult may accompany more than one youth. The licensed accompanying adult may not hunt waterfowl. Bag and species limits are the same as those allowed in the regular season for ducks and geese. An HIP registration number is required for youth hunters during the youth waterfowl weekends.