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Waterfowl Hunter Education

waterfowl in flight

A certificate from this course is required to get an access permit for select National Wildlife Refuges and state lands open to waterfowl hunting. While this course is not required for waterfowl hunting in general, it is recommended and of value to attend. This is a very challenging course that requires intensive duck identification.

All Waterfowl Hunter Education Courses require the completion of homework prior to attending the course.

Proof of completed homework must be brought to the course led by an instructor. The homework will take several hours to complete.

There are NO 'online-only' courses. Homework and the in-person instruction portion of the course is required for all New York courses.

Register for a Waterfowl Hunter Education Course

Register for a Waterfowl Hunter Education Course (link leaves DEC's website). You must attend the entire field session on the date(s) and at the location indicated on the course schedule listing.

Homework and Study Materials

Print and complete the Waterfowl Education Homework Worksheet(PDF, 258 KB). Refer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ducks at a Distance: A Waterfowl Identification Guide (PDF, 3.8 MB) - Study the markings and characteristics of ducks to help you recognize birds on the wing while out in the field.

If you prefer a hard copy, the guide and worksheet can be picked up at most DEC Wildlife offices or may be available for pick up at other locations as specified in the course instructions.(Cost: Free).

Refer to the Waterfowl Seasons and Information to become more familiar with hunting regulations.

General Course Details and Requirements

Course Topics Covered

  • Key features when identifying birds in the field
  • Waterfowl hunting rules and regulations
  • Waterfowl hunter's responsibilities and ethics
  • Waterfowl hunting safety
  • Waterfowling ballistics

Age Restrictions/Requirements


Course Length

Minimum of 3 hours.

Waterfowl Hunter Education Certificate

Students must complete required homework, attend all sessions of the course, demonstrate proper attitude and safety, and pass a final exam of 25 questions. After successful completion of the course, students will receive a Waterfowl Education Certificate of Qualification, which is required for accessing several National Wildlife Refuges and state lands open to waterfowl hunting.

Get more details on certificates: including how to replace a lost certificate and out of state certificate requirements.