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Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

Female duck hunter

License Requirements

  • You must purchase a hunting license. Visit our Hunting Licenses page for information on types of licenses available and where to purchase.
  • You must register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) if you are hunting any migratory game bird, except crows. HIP registration is valid from July 1 - June 30 annually.
  • You do not need a federal migratory bird hunting stamp to hunt coot, crow, rail, gallinule, snipe, or woodcock.
  • If you are 16 years or older and hunt waterfowl (ducks, geese, and brant), you need a federal migratory bird hunting stamp ("duck stamp").
  • Military veterans or active duty hunters participating in the special hunting opportunity must carry one of the following forms of identification afield:
    • Active military identification card
    • Actively participating Guard or Reservist identification card
    • Retired military identification card
    • New York State drivers license with Veteran Status
    • Form DD214, Certificate of Discharge
    • Form DD215, Corrected Certificate of Discharge

Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp

Each waterfowl hunter 16 years of age or older must carry on his/her person a valid federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp ("duck stamp") signed in ink across the face. Electronic duck stamps are also valid for 45 days from the date of purchase, provided you comply with the state and federal requirements. Stamps do not have to be attached to your license. Duck stamps are not required for hunting coot, rails, gallinules, woodcock or snipe. Duck stamps are not required of minors 12 to 15 years of age hunting migratory waterfowl in New York State.

You may buy the federal "duck stamp" at most post offices, some sporting goods stores, call 1-800-382-5499, or by visiting the USFWS Duck Stamp page (leaves DEC website). It costs $25.00 plus shipping and handling for phone or internet orders. The money is used to conserve wetlands.

Nontoxic Shot

You must use nontoxic shot when hunting ducks, geese, brant, snipe, rails, gallinules, or coots. While hunting these species, you must possess only nontoxic shot. Approved nontoxic shots include: steel, bismuth/tin, tungsten/iron, tungsten/polymer, tungsten/matrix, tungsten/nickel/iron, or other shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Possession or use of shells loaded with shot other than listed above is strictly prohibited when hunting waterfowl.

Hunting Blinds

Hunting blinds placed in lake waters must be labeled with the owner's name and address then removed from lake waters no later than March 15.

Prohibitions

You may NOT hunt migratory game birds using these methods:

  • With a shotgun that holds more than three shells, unless it has a plug that cannot be removed without taking the shotgun apart. This does not apply to the taking of snow geese at any time in any zone, or taking of Canada geese during September, when all other waterfowl hunting seasons are closed (including youth waterfowl seasons). However, semi-automatic shotguns may not exceed six shells in the magazine and chamber, combined, at any time when waterfowl hunting.
  • With a shotgun larger than 10 gauge, or with a rifle or handgun.
  • With a trap, snare, or net.
  • With a swivel gun, battery gun, machine gun, or explosive.
  • With fishhooks, poisons, or drugs.
  • From a sink box. This is a float that conceals your entire body below the water surface.
  • From a car or other motor vehicle on land.
    Note: Paraplegics and leg amputees, with a permit issued by DEC, are exempted from this restriction.
  • From a motorboat or sailboat unless the motor is off or the sail furled, and the boat has stopped moving.
    Note: Boats under power may be used to retrieve dead or crippled birds. You may not shoot crippled birds when under power, except in the Special Sea Duck Area.
  • With live decoys. If you have captive waterfowl, they must be removed from your hunting area at least 10 days prior to hunting and confined in an enclosure so that they cannot be seen or heard by migratory waterfowl.
  • With electronic calls, amplifiers, or tapes of calls. This does not apply to the taking of snow geese at any time, or taking of Canada geese during September, when all other waterfowl hunting seasons are closed (including youth waterfowl seasons).
  • By driving or chasing birds with any motorized boat or vehicle, or sailboat so that the birds are pushed in shooting range of hunters.
  • By using bait to attract waterfowl. A "baited area" is considered to be baited for 10 days after any bait is actually removed. Even if you did not place the bait, you may still be ticketed if you hunt in a baited area.
    Note: You may hunt near standing or harvested crops, flooded or unflooded. You also may hunt where grain crops have been shocked in the field, or where grains are scattered on the ground from normal farm practices.

After You Shoot

  • You must make a reasonable effort to retrieve all killed or crippled birds.
  • Any wounded birds must be immediately killed and included in your daily bag.
  • The head or one fully feathered wing must stay on each bird until you get home or go to a migratory bird preservation facility.

Season Dates, Bag Limit, and Field Possession Limit

Season dates can be located on the Waterfowl & Migratory Game Bird Seasons page.

The daily bag limit is the maximum number of birds of each species that any person may take or possess in the field within one day. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit for all waterfowl species except snow geese.

No more than one daily bag or aggregate daily bag limit of migratory birds may be possessed or transported, tagged or untagged, at or between the place of taking and:

  • his or her automobile or principal means of land transportation
  • his or her personal abode or temporary place of lodging
  • migratory bird preservation facility
  • post office or common-carrier facility

Possession, Tagging, Shipment, and Importation

The possession limit is the maximum number of migratory game birds that any person may possess in total in his/her automobile or principal means of land transportation, personal abode, or in his/her name at any migratory bird preservation facility, post office or common-carrier facility. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit for all waterfowl species except snow geese.

No person shall give, put or leave any migratory game birds at any place (other than personal abode) or in the custody of another person for picking, cleaning, processing, shipping, transportation, storage (including temporary storage) or taxidermy services, unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the following information:

  • hunter's name, address, and signature
  • total number of birds involved, by species
  • dates such birds are killed

For more information on regulations pertaining to possession, tagging, shipment and importation of legally killed migratory game birds, consult the specific federal and state regulations cited above.

Reporting Banded Migratory Game Birds

Please report band recoveries on-line (leaves DEC website) or by sending your information to: Bird Banding Lab, 12100 Beach Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708. The call center supporting the 1-800-327-BAND toll-free phone number will be discontinued no later than June 30, 2018, possibly on June 30, 2017. People calling this toll-free number will be directed to report their bird bands using the REPORTBAND website (see link above) or by mail. We rely heavily on your cooperation in reporting banded birds to help in their management, and we would like to thank you for your continued support in this effort.