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Waterfowl hunting

From teal to light goose, Nebraska has a diversity of opportunity for the next great waterfowl hunt for you.

Information

Waterfowl Rezoning: As part of a process that adjusts waterfowl boundaries in conjunction with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Flyway Councils criteria, hunters will be asked for their input on proposed new waterfowl zone boundaries in November 2024 and January 2025. See “Know the waterfowl zones” on our Waterfowl Checklist page for more information, including a timeline for the process.

Nebraska is blessed with a variety of wetland habitats that ducks and geese use both during fall and spring migration. The variety of wetland habitats also provide for different hunting opportunities throughout the season and across the state.

With teal season beginning in September, the light goose conservation order in February and the regular duck and goose seasons in between, Nebraska offers many waterfowl hunting opportunities.

A mam uses a duck call as the sun peaks over the horizon at sunrise.

Waterfowl checklist

Learn about the requirements for waterfowl hunters in Nebraska, find waterfowl zones, and more utilizing our checklist for hunters.

A dad helps his son hold a firearm to shoot ducks

Two Tier Program

Nebraska has entered a new duck hunting pilot program with South Dakota. New regulations in both states in March 2021 created two bag-limit categories, or “tiers,” for hunters to select from when obtaining their Harvest Information Program numbers.

Nebraska waterfowl

Each fall, Nebraska duck hunters have the opportunity to harvest more than 15 different species of ducks that migrate through the state. Primary species typically harvested are mallard, blue- and green-winged teal, gadwall, northern pintails, American Wigeon, northern shovelers and wood ducks, with the occasional redhead, ring-necked duck or canvasback.

Not only can Nebraska duck hunters encounter a number of different duck species, the diversity of habitats, from Sandhills lakes, Rainwater Basin wetlands, to Platte River sandbars offer a set of unique experiences as well as offering a long hunting season. However, proper identification is key when hunting waterfowl.

Few animals can signify the arrival of fall, but a “V” of honking Canada geese overhead reminds us that winter is not far off. Once rare in the state, restoration efforts in Nebraska and across North America have brought populations back to where resident birds can be observed year-round.

Migration into Nebraska from northern areas begins in late November with peaks of population in early January. Close to 100,000 Canada geese are harvested in Nebraska each year, and hunting opportunities exist in every corner of the state.

If Canada geese signal the arrival of fall in Nebraska, then white-fronted geese (also referred to as specks, specklebelly) are the harbinger of spring. As they head to breeding grounds in the Arctic, flocks of white-fronts transition through Nebraska in February and March.

Less common in the fall, white-fronts are a considered a trophy bird – both for their relatively rarity and their desirability as table fare – when one is harvested. The Rainwater Basin area of south-central Nebraska is the primary area to both observe and harvest a white-front.

The spectacle of a swirling, barking mass of a large flock of light geese – Snow, blue and Ross’s geese – into a marsh or field is one that few forget. Opportunities to harvest and observe light geese in the fall are somewhat limited, but that changes during February and March when millions stop and stage in Nebraska.

The Rainwater Basin and Platte River regions in the central part of the state, with eastern Nebraska and the Missouri River corridor being the best places to pursue light geese.

Increase your chance at success

Learn from additional resources Nebraska Game and Parks prepares for waterfowl hunters.

Wetland habitat conditions

Nebraska Game and Parks pumps some wetlands to improve hunting conditions, provide habitat for migrating water birds, spread out their distribution to reduce the possibility of disease outbreak and provide areas for people to observe wildlife.

Waterfowl season reports

Surveys of hunters, waterfowl population numbers, peak migration times and other information are compiled, analyzed and used to inform season dates. Find reports going back to 2016.

Clear Creek WMA Special Hunting Area

A Special Hunting Area at Clear Creek WMA, a 300 acre area, has 10 pit blinds for waterfowl hunting. The SHA is open to hunting waterfowl and other game species until the check station opens on the Monday before Thanksgiving to the end of dark goose season or as otherwise posted.

During the time when the check station is open, hunters must check in at the check station office and can only hunt within the provided blinds; view a map of their locations here. Downed birds may be retrieved from the Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge, although no firearms are allowed there. A printable map of the special hunting area, along with special regulations, is available for download.

Up to five blinds at the SHA are available by reservation. Hunters may apply for reservation dates during August and September, and a drawing is held the first Wednesday in October. Reservation applications are available online, at the Clear Creek WMA field office or at the District IV Office in North Platte. If any advance reservation dates remain after the drawing, hunters may call the District IV Office in North Platte at 308-535-8025 to reserve one.

No more than two advance reservations are allowed per individual. Remaining blinds are allocated each day by a drawing conducted 45 minutes before legal shooting hours for that day. The check station opens a half hour before drawing time.

The drawing determines the order of blind selection. Blinds not allocated in the drawing and those vacated during the day will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters may hunt only with the group they registered with for the drawing.

Youth Hunt

Portions of the Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area will be closed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mountain time Oct. 22, 2023, for the Mentored Youth Waterfowl Hunt. The areas of closure include all of the hunting blinds, the Special Hunting Area, and everything a half mile west of the Special Hunting Area. The rest of Clear Creek WMA will remain open to the public.

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