Waterfowl hunting

News & notices

Weekly migration report

View the weekly compilation of state and federal wildlife manager reports and waterfowl surveys from across Minnesota. Check the conservation officer reports for additional information about waterfowl hunter success.

Have a safe hunt

Proper preparation and forethought goes a long way. Wear your lifejacket and be safe on the water and in the marsh when you're out hunting. Use our guide to safe waterfowl hunting before you head out into the field.

Complete regulations

View the waterfowl regulations handbook for complete hunting regulations and location-specific informaton. A guide that helps hunters properly identify ducks and geese of Minnesota also is available.

Seasons

Ducks, coots, mergansers

ZoneHunting dates
NorthSept. 26 - Nov. 24
CentralSept. 26 - Oct. 4; Oct. 10 - Nov. 29
SouthSept. 26 - Oct. 4; Oct. 17 - Dec. 6

Geese

ZoneHunting dates
Early goose (statewide)Sept. 5-20
NorthSept. 26-Dec. 25
CentralSept. 26-Oct. 4; Oct. 10-Dec. 30
SouthSept. 26-Oct. 4; Oct. 17-Jan. 6, 2021

Zones

Map showing Minnesota's waterfowl hunting zones.

Minnesota's waterfowl hunting zones

Shooting hours

  • Zone opening day - Oct. 9: ½ hour before sunrise to 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 10 - Zone season close: ½ hour before sunrise to sunset

Daily limits

The combined daily limit for all species listed – not including goose – is 6

Ducks

SpeciesLimit
Mallard4 (2 hens)
Wood duck3
Redhead2
Canvasback2
Black duck2
Pintail1
All others6

Scaup

DatesLimit
Zone opening day - Oct. 221
Oct. 23 - Zone closing day2

Coots & moorhen (gallinule)

SpeciesLimit
Coots & moorhen (gallinule)15

Mergansers

SpeciesLimit
Mergansers5 (no more than 2 of which may be hooded mergansers)

Early goose season

SpeciesDatesLimit
Canada, White-fronted, BrantSept. 5-205 combined
Snow, Blue snow, Ross'sSept. 5-2020

Regular goose season

North zone
SpeciesDatesLimit
Canada, White-fronted, BrantSept. 26-Dec. 253 combined
Snow, Blue snow, Ross'sSept. 26-Dec. 2520
Central zone
SpeciesDatesLimit
Canada, White-fronted, BrantSept. 26-Oct. 4; Oct. 10-Dec. 303 combined
Snow, Blue snow, Ross'sSept. 26-Oct. 4; Oct. 10-Dec. 3020
South zone
SpeciesDatesLimit
Canada, White-fronted, BrantSept. 26-Oct. 4; Oct. 17-Jan. 6, 20213 combined
Snow, Blue snow, Ross'sSept. 26-Oct. 4; Oct. 17-Jan. 6, 202120
The possession limit for all migratory birds in three times the daily limit

Regulations

Definitions

  • Migratory game birds: Defined as ducks, geese, mergansers, coots, moorhens (gallinules), woodcock, rails, snipe, sandhill cranes, and mourning doves.
  • Migratory waterfow: Defined as ducks, geese, and mergansers.
  • Undressed bird: Defined as ducks, or geese or other migratory game birds with one fully-feathered wing attached.

Non-toxic shot required

It is unlawful to take geese, ducks, mergansers, coots, moorhens, or sandhill cranes with lead shot or while having any lead shot in possession. Only shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be used.

Opening day possession limit

On the opening day of the season, no person may possess more freshly killed migratory game birds than is allowed by the daily limit.

Retrieval

A person may not kill or wound any migratory game bird without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the bird and include it in the daily limit.

Decoys

  • No person may place decoys on public lands or in public waters more than two hours before legal shooting hours for waterfowl.
  • No person may leave decoys on public waters between sunset and two hours before legal shooting hours or leave decoys unattended during other times for more than three consecutive hours, except decoys may be left in waters adjacent to private land under control of the hunter where there is not sufficient natural vegetation growing in the water to partially conceal a hunter. A person may not leave decoys in public waters between sunset and one hour before shooting hours if the decoys constitute a navigational hazard.

Field possession limit

No person shall possess, have in custody or transport more than the daily limit or aggregate daily limit, whichever applies, of migratory game birds, tagged or not tagged at or between the place where taken and either:

  1. His or her automobile or principal means of land transportation;
  2. His or her personal abode or temporary transient place of lodging;
  3. Migratory bird preservation facility;
  4. Post office; or
  5. A common carrier facility.

Wanton waste

You must make a reasonable effort to retrieve all migratory game birds that you kill or wound and keep these birds in your actual custody while in the field. You must immediately kill any wounded birds that you retrieve and count those birds toward your daily limit. Birds must remain in your possession while in the field. You may not give your birds to another person in the field regardless of whether or not they are properly tagged.

Learn to hunt

Do you value strong connections to your outdoors and the food you eat? Are you looking for a new way to interact with the fields, woods and waters around you?

Please check out our waterfowl hunting how-to guide to get started.

Management

Hunting is only one aspect of the DNR's effort to manage waterfowl for the public trust. Visit our waterfowl management page to learn about the many things we do to manage waterfowl for the benefit of all Minnesotans now and into the future.