Many duck hunters appreciate the use of watercraft and travel to get to remote locations, although some choose to take their boat out onto the sea and kill many ducks. While some utilize motor-powered boats, other duck hunters use non-power watercraft like punt boats, canoes, or flat-bottomed boats. Several states have different rules and regulations when it comes to waterfowl hunting. So it is best to familiarize yourself with the laws of that specific place beforehand to avoid any legal complications.
Usually, if you wish to hunt ducks, you may do so on waterways such as rivers, streams, and creeks up to a speed of five knots. Anyone wishing to use motorized crafts when hunting ducks must ensure they operate at a speed that doesn’t exceed five knots while on an open water source like a lake or dam.
It is also possible to retrieve dead or wounded ducks using a motorboat, but it must only be moving at five knots or under within these designated zones. Unless specifically allowed by law, any means of transportation must not be used to pursue, kill, catch, or destroy any type of fowl; this includes land and airstrips, including aircraft, boats, & motor vehicles.
Is It Legal to Shoot Ducks from A Boat?
It is legal to shoot birds on the water. Federal law restricts shooting at waterfowl from a moving boat, but state officers do not strictly enforce this law as the federal ones do. There are many laws governing waterfowling, and you should familiarize yourself with them before going out hunting. Suppose you need to use them for any reason.
In that case, this will ensure that you know all of your rights as a citizen and, more importantly, that you know precisely when it comes down to abiding by specific laws depending on particular situations. In most states, hunting ducks from a boat is legal if the craft is drifting, beached, moored, or anchored or propelled by paddle, oars, and pole. Waterfowls can be taken from motorized boats if the motor is shut off, the sails are furled, or the watercraft has stopped.
However, you can not hunt ducks from any vessel under sail, under power, or while still in motion from such propulsion. The law also states that no waterfowl can be taken from any vehicle if it is in motion, the engine is running, or its passenger area is being occupied. The prohibition of occupying the passenger area of a vehicle does not apply to a disabled individual whose mobility is restricted. When hunting ducks from a boat, you should also take note of boat safety regulations, such as you need to unload and uncase your firearms while on water or traveling to or from a site.
You should also always carry a readily accessible Coast Guard-approved wearable personal floatation device or life jacket for each person on the boat. It would help if you also remember that it is illegal to keep a boat unattended for hunting ducks before sunset and one hour before sunrise unless the boat is placed on adjacent land owned by that person. The water does not contain sufficient vegetation to conceal the boat.
Also read: Duck Boat Accessories
Reasons for Regulations
Ducks are migratory birds, and the federal government regulates their hunting. As per the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) regulations, it is illegal to hunt migratory birds unless allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hunting without a proper permit is a crime, and violators may have to pay up to $15,000 in fines and face jail time. In certain states, hunting is legal so long as the hunter has a proper license.
The difference between migratory birds and other birds is that migratory birds are protected under federal law, while other birds are protected under state laws. Regulation of duck hunting is in place to prevent ducks from being overhunted. Ducks are migratory birds, and hunting permits specific numbers of birds to be hunted annually. Ducks are protected, and hunting them is, in fact, illegal in some countries. The hunting season is also divided into different parts to ensure that hatchlings will be protected from them. Some states even have laws about not hunting or shooting ducks in the water.
The reason why duck hunting is regulated is that ducks are not hunted for food. Most ducks hunted for sport are not eaten, especially in the United States. These migratory birds are non-game species and are protected by federal law. When hunters do not eat their catch, they significantly impact the migratory waterfowl population. The government regulates hunting seasons, the number of birds that can be hunted, and the type of equipment used.
Can I Work Around It?
The waterfowling laws differ in various regions, and the rules and regulations are often poorly written and ambiguous. So depending on the time, season, and the attitude of the officers in charge at that specific day or time, you can tweak the regulations. However, it is advised to note the laws and not try to go around them. It is legal to shoot birds on the water. However, Federal law prohibits shooting at waterfowl from a moving boat even if you are chasing a cripple. The state officers do not enforce this law as strictly as the Federal officers, and you can work around it, especially if you are not hunting migratory waterfowl or endangered or almost extinct species. There are many laws governing waterfowling, and it is suggested you familiarize yourself with them before going. The rules are tricky and misleading if you are not familiar with them.
You will also need to carry a federal stamp, HIP number, small game license, state stamp, and if your boat has been altered to “camo,” you need a floating blind permit. You are not permitted to hunt within 500 yards of a licensed blind or 1000 yards of a bridge. Take note of the bag limit and strictly follow that season dates to avoid getting a ticket.
Waterfowl hunting can be dangerous if simple safety rules aren’t followed. Several waterfowl hunters lose their lives each season due to accidents in small boats that are either overloaded or blown off course by storms. Be careful when you decide to waterfowl hunt as a passenger on a boat and insist that the hunter with whom you plan on working or going out in the boat wears a life vest at all times. You should never head out on big waters in tiny boats, and it’s best your passengers do likewise.
A boat is excellent for hunting because lakes, rivers, marshes, and swamps are some of the most popular places to find ducks, especially in North America. Keep in mind that the traditional way of sitting on the bank or in a sand blind isn’t always necessary because it uses stale techniques that don’t work so well anymore. These days you can modify your boat and add a number to hide to remain undetected by birds even when you come close to them.
It will help if you gear your boat with a blind and the proper equipment that will allow you to follow ducks that move as conditions change throughout the day, like water and feeding conditions. Always use a properly registered and numbered boat and carry safety items such as a survival kit, first-aid boxes, and a few extra clothes to be prepared to face any unwanted accidents. Follow the rules and regulations and maintain safety tips for a fun and adventurous waterfowling trip.