Location, location location! You heard it. If you're looking for the Best Duck Hunting States in the ol' US of A you're going to need to do your research on location. There's a ton of data and opinions out there pointing you towards the best duck hunting states, but we're going to do the work for you! Hunter's Wholesale has researched dozens of websites and summarized the most important information below. Good luck with your search and we hope this helps!

Statistics provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 Migratory Bird Hunting Activity and Harvest report.

10. Washington - Pacific Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 374,200

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 15.2

Washington provides a great number of waterfowl hunting opportunities - ranging from agricultural fields to deep saltwater areas. Waterfowl hunters are given the chance to explore the many different types of habits that support everything from mallards, to sea ducks and brant, and even Canada geese and snow geese.

The state also plays a large role in the migratory bird pathway known as at the Pacific Flyway. Washington was picked most notably because it often ranks second among the western states as far as ducks harvested and waterfowl abundance.

Check out a full list of places to go waterfowl hunting in Washington here!

9. California – Pacific Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 962,200

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 21.1

California offers a wide variety of waterfowl species, including mallards, pintails, wigeon, shovelers, gadwalls, and green-winged and cinnamon teal, plus clouds of specklebellies and Canadas. While the state offers a great number of options, it comes with a price - a great number of waterfowl hunters. The state currently has close to 50,000 active waterfowl hunters itching at the moment opening day hits (the main reason it comes in at number 9 on this list).

While this provides quite a roadblock for hunters trying to tag out, the state does offer quite a few location opportunities, including six refuges in the Sacramento Valley. In addition to these refuges, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife actively keeps up wildlife management areas such as Mendota, Imperial, Los Banos, Grizzly Island and Grey Lodge.

For a more detailed listing of possible hunting areas click here!

8. North Carolina - Atlantic Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 232,600

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 8.0

North Carolina provides an ample amount of public land to hunt, especially within the Coast Region. The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission actively manages many waterfowl impoundments and special-permit game lands which provide keep flyover zones for mallards, gadwall, wigeon, bluebills, ringnecks, buffleheads, hooded mergansers, black ducks and green-winged teal.

As far as specifics, make sure you do your research on the Pamlico Sound - located between North Carolina and the Outer Banks. It's part of the second-largest estuary system in the United States, after Chesapeake Bay. These open waters support a large number of submerged aquatic vegetation, while the marshes offer provide secluded resting areas for numerous waterfowl species. 

7. Minnesota - Mississippi Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 445,100

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 8.8

Minnesota had the second-most active waterfowl hunters during the 2019 for the Mississippi Flyway, making it a popular destination. Many waterfowl hunters first think about the wild rice lakes when they hear Minnesota due to the role it plays as an important food source for various duck species. If you're bored with the lakes, make sure to check out the terrain diversity provide by the Mississippi River - you definitely be challenged in Minnesota with these options!

Also, just in case you haven't heard, Minnesota is having its first ever Teal hunting season this year (2021)!

6. Maryland - Atlantic Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 117,900

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 5.6

Maryland waterfowl hunters all know about the infamous Chesapeake Bay, which offer excellent hunting opportunities for scoters and long-tailed ducks, plus canvasbacks, scaup, ringnecks, buffleheads and goldeneyes. As far as specifics about public land, Fishing BayWildlife Management Area is one of the largest at 29,000 acres. It's a great choice for those just starting, as well as experience waterfowl hunters. Another option, while not as large in size, is the 1,120-acre Taylors Island, which is rated as one of the most popular places for to hunt mallards in the state. 

For a full list of public land opportunities click here!

5. North Dakota - Central Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 406,900

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 7.2

The North American Central Flyway goes right through the state of North Dakota and is one of the busiest routes for birds between northern Canada and the Gulf Coast. As far as landscape, there's quite a lot of variety. The east is flat, fertile farmland, while the west is more rugged with rolling hills and buttes. If you're looking for lakes, rivers and wetlands you might want to check out both ends of the state for the best waterfowl hunting opportunities. 

Some of the most popular waterfowl hunting areas include the Missouri River corridor and the Prairie Pothole region. If you're a good talker, you might want to knock on the door of a few landowners as it's been known that many will give permission to hunt their land. Lastly, waterfowl hunters can enjoy the state's many public lands including wildlife management areas, PLOTS, state school lands, and more than 230,000 aces of waterfowl production areas.

For a more detailed list of public hunting areas provided by North Dakota click here!

4. Mississippi - Mississippi Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 201,000

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 14.2

Mississippi is routinely ranked as a top destination for waterfowl hunters as it provides a wintering area to millions of birds. The most popular hunting region is  the Mississippi Delta in the northwestern part of the state. It's one of the most sought after areas due to its water terrain diversity including rivers, bayous, swamps, brakes and flooded forests.

As far as public land opportunities, Mississippi offers 50 wildlife management areas spanning about 665,000 acres. About half of these are managed largely for waterfowl. The state does a good job of using flood control to manage these WMAs to . Many of these WMAs provide food and habitat for waterfowl, more specifically flooded grains — such as rice, soybeans and corn — and many more. Waterfowl hunters rank the Mahannah, Malmaison and Howard Miller as some of the top WMAs. 

Click here for a more detailed mapping of Mississippi's WMAs. 

3. Texas - Central Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 787,700

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 11.4

Texas waterfowl hunters harvest some of the largest totals across the United States, and they did so largely on private land. While you might have to pay for your next duck hunting adventure in Texas, if you do your research on guides/outfitters you'll come out just fine. Also, the seasons are open late so while many other states might be shut down or shot out, you can schedule a late year visit here for one last chance. 

The state is split up into three zones for duck hunting, and season dates are different in each of these regions. Many waterfowl hunters aren't aware of the playa lake areas in the Northern Texas panhandle so make sure to take a look. It holds a variety of species such as green-headed mallards and elegant pintails within fields of corn, wheat and peanuts.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department lists more detailed information here!

2. Arkansas - Mississippi Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 1.09 Million

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 14.5

Arkansas is a premier duck hunting destination for any waterfowl hunter as its built for this specific purpose. The state has more than 100 wildlife management areas designed to attract both ducks and duck hunters. 

If you take a deeper dive, the eastern part of the state really contains some of the best duck hunting - specifically near the Mississippi and White rivers. Not surprisingly, one of the best public hunting opportunities is in the Dale Bumpers White River NWR. This land consists of 90 miles of flooded timber right beside rice fields (but you'll need a permit to hunt here). 

The list continues so you should take some time and research the Bayou Meto WMA, the Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA, and the Bald Knob NWR.

1. Louisiana - Mississippi Flyaway

2019 Total Duck Harvest - 572,4000

Seasonal Duck Harvest Per Hunter - 11.5

Louisiana might be too good of a destination for waterfowl hunters, and that's why it ranks as number one on our list of Best Duck Hunting States. If you start off duck hunting in the state of Louisiana it might be all down hill from here. Waterfowl hunters rave about the large populations of waterfowl, and beautiful terrain provide by this great state!

As far as layout, nearly 8,000 square miles of Louisiana is water, and the 1.3 million acres of wildlife management areas creates an inviting habitat for birds. Speaking of habitat, the state ranges from from coastal marshes to flooded timber and even flooded grain fields. Top locations include the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge and the Sabine NWR.

Louisiana is the final destination for millions of ducks and geese each year during their fall migration, but it should be the first destination for any avid waterfowl hunter this upcoming season!


Additionally, check out our own article comparing the Best Duck Hunting Waders as well!