The Unknown History Of Duck Hunting


Hunting has been a staple activity for humans for centuries ever since the discovery of fire and even before.

And birds are the topmost hunted animals.

Now, let us start from the beginning of this activity to fully understand how the history of duck hunting has evolved into what we have today.

History Of Duck Hunting

Duck and other waterfowl hunting is not something that started just the other day; as a matter of fact, there is prehistoric evidence that duck trapping was a thing done almost twelve thousand years ago.

The utmost trusted evidence to support this claim on the history of duck hunting is found drawn on ancient wall art in an Egyptian mausoleum about 4000 years ago.


In the North American region, the natives on the Southwestern side of the continent used duck snares for hunting at least two thousand years ago.

Modern strategies for duck stalking utilized today borrowed a leaf from the history of duck hunting such that the activity was carried forward. Still, the means to hunt the waterfowls was upgraded.

Around the 1600s and the 1700s, hunters used matchlock shotguns to kill the birds. They started employing the flintlock shotguns, which went on up until the 19th-century collection of years.

The hunting of these waterfowls went side by side as per the development of firearms during those times by English gun developers. At this time, duck hunting was a prevalent pastime in Europe, and even some people used it as a livelihood to hunt and sell their hunts.

As the years went by, the distance of mowing down ducks became longer since the firearms used became progressively sophisticated year after year. This exponential development of gun technology only meant one thing— extra ducks were being mowed down.

One more thing that increased duck hunting is that people immigrated in millions, which meant they demanded additional food supply. So much so, waterfowlers went searching deeper and deeper into the duck’s habitats to get more to satisfy the ever-growing demand.

A few downsides met this upsurge of mercenary hunting in North America to feed the growing population. One is an apparent loss of the ducks’ domain since agriculture was picking up in the western regions.

Secondly, the massive duck hunting meant that the duck population decreased sharply, which was a mainspring of concern. The second drawback then initiated a few implementations to help curb uncontrolled and unregulated duck hunting, and here you will take a look at those very acts momentarily.


The natives did duck hunting in Canada, but the exercise intensified after the Europeans brought guns into the country. After this modernization, duck hunting had to be regulated to protect these birds.

In Canada, a licensed hunter could hunt for ducks like the buffleheads, wood ducks, ringnecks, the widgen, and the redhead, among others. To get this permit, one has to apply and get it as an authoritative migratory game bird hunting sanction—furthermore, a Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation imprint on the certificate.

Moreover, a trapper has limits that are titled the possession and bag restriction. The bag impedes what one is permitted to hit per hunt, and the possession restriction is what the hunter is authorized to have with them after the search.

Both these limits change periodically, depending on the searching period and population of the birds. And so a hunter in Canada should check with these rules annually.


In the Australian countryside, duck trapping was done as a sport, and it still is done up to date. Before the 19th century, Australian hunters did not use guns. Hunting ducks were set in motion in the Southern parts of the continent and spread further towards inland later.

Currently, four territories permit the search and mowing down of ducks in Canada, although there are stringent rules to safeguard the species that are considered endangered. These territories are the Northern, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria.

The Pacific Black duck and the Australian wood duck can be hunted in all four territories. The Wandering whistling duck and the plumed whistling duck can only be pursued in the Northern region. The pink-eared duck can be tracked in three environments, excluding Tasmania.


Waterfowl hunting in the United Kingdom was known as wildfowling. There is a bounded number of waterfowls in the UK that can legally be tracked down, and one duck genus is the Tufted duck.

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Most tracking excursions are organized during the morning hours or the late post meridian time while the animals are heading to feed. It is also mandatory that the shooter has a retriever dog going for the dead bird after being gunned down.

The hunting of ducks in the UK is mostly self-governed though some ruling organizations see that specific measures like illegal poaching are avoided.

Methods Used For Duck Hunting

Duck hunters usually go hunting during the colder seasons of autumn and winter.

And this has been the same period indicated in the history of duck hunting as well.

During these times, duck hunters get their gear together and make one’s way for the regions set aside for duck hunting. At least, this is how the modern-day hunter does. Before, hunters could easily pick up their firearms and hunted as they pleased.

Below are some of the things you need for a successful hunt:


As indicated in the history of duck hunting, most trappers used boats to get closer to their prey. They go deeper into the water searching for ducks breeding and feeding grounds, where they would hunt down the ducks. A modern hunter still needs a boat, although they must be stationary to hunt.


So as not to spook the ducks away, you need to have dedicated camouflaging attire to hunt peacefully. The clothing is mostly water-resistant since most hunters wade over water. Proper gear also includes the wield of blinds that blend in with the environment.

These blinds help the hunters set up their ammunition or bows for a successful hunt. The methods of killing the birds have not essentially changed as indicated by the history of duck hunting; only a few sophistication tools might have improved.


Some hunters may require dogs as retrievers to the hunted prey, and others may use experienced guides. All these are aimed to smoothen your experience as a hunter of ducks. Dogs were used even back then, as illustrated above in the history of duck hunting.

Unexpected Conservationists

Conservationists saw a need to save these aquatic animals in the hot spots since the hunting was unregulated, which would lead to the extinction of ducks and other waterfowls being hunted if nothing was done.

J.N. Darling, an American, pushed for an act to protect the migratory birds in 1934. This kind of action involved a hunter getting a unique stamp to be counted eligible to hunt ducks. This license would give them the right to go ahead with the practice of hunting ducks plus other waterfowls. The conservationist pushed this same act back in 1934, and it had the applicants pay two dollars for the license. Today, that same license costs $25.

When the millennium came, a new E-duck stamp system was rolled out and was available for $17. With this license, you get authorized instantaneously but receive your physical stamp via the mail. And this permit is renewable yearly. Presently, there are speculations that this stamp might see an increase in price in the subsequent years.

Darling pushed for back and has opened new doors to protect the environment for these many hunted ducks as by now, all the revenue collected has made huge developments.

All the cash amassed in licensing has led to the acquiring of land currently used to hunt ducks and other waterfowls. The Duck stamp is referred to as the most triumphant and fruitful initiative by conservationists.

The resulting ripple effect saw that there were extra taxes charged on firearms used for hunting. And these funds went into wildlife conservation programs. During the waterfowl seasons, establishments offering accommodation and food get business, opening doors for employment and revenue harvesting.

Combating Overharvesting In The Early Years

In the USA, duck hunting by the natives was unregulated and uncontrolled.

So much so, any hunter would go out and get their hunt done and garner boatloads of ducks and other fowls. But the reduction of ducks in the continent warranted something to be done.

To curb this overharvesting, the Congress in the United States advanced the Weeks-McLean Act to control and regulate duck hunting in the nation. But this 1913 act did not hold water, and it was nullified because the state asserted that the federal directorate had no power as per the constitution.

And this set forth the rise of the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918. This act encompassed the United States and the United Kingdom.

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Undertakings that were okay at the emergence of the 20th century when it came to duck hunting were abolished. It was now illegal to hunt ducks while riding inside a motor car or a boat in motion.

You should also never shoot at wading or sitting ducks. You should also not use living ducks as a troll or teaser nor use a big firearm for hunting. There is also a time limit to hunting times.

Massive 1930s Population Decrease

The 1930s were a hard time for the Western countries’ folk, which affected the entire world, and the fauna faced the same hurdles.

The 1930s were the periods of the infamous great depression that saw the stock market crash. And these strains enkindled the worst of the worst since it gave rise to Americans even fighting and rioting for food. And banks, for the first time, went for a bank holiday.

On a matter related to the history of duck hunting, about the same periods of the 1930s, a massive dry season presaged diminishing waterfowls’ living and breeding quarters, including the ducks.

All the wetlands, including lakes, ponds, and marshland, were significantly decreasing in size. This shrinkage meant that the ducks and other waterfowls lacked a home, which significantly reduced their quantities.

The bogs were then being cleared out by farmers to feed water to their plantations. And since these drying marshlands were instrumental in keeping the ducks alive, their alarming decrease emanated from population depletion. And if there was to be a continuation in duck hunting, stringent initiatives were to be imposed.

In that regard, powerful syndicates like the Ducks Unlimited was formed in 1937. This organization was setup to see if there were methods to sustain and multiply the marshland that was significantly affected in the dry spell’s course. If they could save the wetlands, then ducks and other waterfowl would possess a location to live, breed, and survive.

Ducks Unlimited was created in Sullivan County, New York, after a hunter searched for ducks on a search and caught none, which made them very concerned, prompting a group of hunters coming together to create what is known as the Duck Unlimited Company. Now, Ducks Unlimited purchases land or transform what they have into waterfowl new homes where ducks can thrive and multiply.

Currently, the establishment has numerous members who take part in the donation of funds that reach millions. And these donations are used to acquire land in multiple locations, including Canadian lands, Mexico, and the United States. The organization holds many events to augment the revenue to get all its plans underway.

Migratory Bird Hunting And Conservation Stamp Act


This act was inaugurated in 1934 in North America by Congress. This act was specific and was fashioned to propound finances to institute migratory-bird sanctuaries, refuge’s camps, and build new breeding grounds for aquatic fauna.

This act was in process for a few decades and saw a revision in 1976, and that was when the Duck Stamp Act was added.


This act urges anyone above the age of sixteen interested in hunting birds, acquires a permit, and renews a Duck stamp yearly. One person is eligible to purchase more than one stamp during registration.

Some of the people that go for the Duck Stamp are hunters, outdoor explorers, bird researchers, and stamp collectors who find having these stamps is an achievement.


All the endowment accumulated in the vending of these stamps goes by improving the habitual grounds of birds. The Migratory Bird Conservation Fund is the funding body used by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service for a reason mentioned above. Every penny spent has to be adjudicated and monitored.

The governing body has government representatives who ascertain that the books do everything. Every piece of ground acquired must be documented.


This act is not definitive as changes are made after some time. Case in point, the stamp’s market value has dramatically changed since the Act was enacted. The price started at a dollar in 1934, and today, the asking price stands at twenty-five dollars. And that is per the 2015 amendment.


To date, this act has brought so much success as all the proceedings have transcended the eight hundred million dollar mark, which has toiled to secure close to seven million acres of marsh. The lions’ share of this fund goes straight into bettering the duck’s habitat while a small two percent goes into operations.

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Besides that, this act has enabled a total of three hundred plus refuge creation and expansions. Since the Duck stamp’s inception into the act, the duck statistical quantity has significantly increased, nearing the fifty million mark.

This act has spread beyond the above as ecotourism, flood mitigation, water quality, and improved ecological systems have improved.

Extra Features

Notably, this act has become a whole new culture to the American folk as it has attracted an entirely new cohort of fowl hunters taking this hobby into something else. Below are some of the extras that have come with the Migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp.


As an extra, a yearly tournament is set up for designers who can form the succeeding artwork presented on that year’s imprint. And this competition has attracted quite a patronage.

The judging committee consists of designers and some waterfowl enthusiasts. This is the only tournament that is subsidized and financed by the US federal government.


This project was started in 1989 to educate people on the safeguarding of birds and other animals. It is a syllabus that teaches children from kindergarten to highschool everything to do with birds, marshes, and their preservation.

All the proceedings collected under this initiative are directed to the environmental educative scheme. This scheme’s junior stamp contest encourages the kids to yield their artwork to acquire the winning spot of the year’s junior duck stamp.


In 1980, the Duck stamp fund kitty went in to buy the Ashley County Overflow National Wildlife Refuge. This sanctum is now home to thousands of wildlife, including birds and other fauna, with plenty of dry land and wetlands. This sanctuary is a great tourist attraction.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act


The North America Wetland Conservation Act was inaugurated in December 1989. Its main aim was to secure and safeguard the wetlands, which happen to be the dwelling space for ducks and other fowls.

It is run and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. And its committee consists of 9 council participants. It is operational on North American soil, including Canada, the USA, and Mexico.

This act was started to create a platform that conservationists would utilize to secure the wetlands long term. And these activities would shelter the domains of migratory birds and other animals that rely on these marshes.

The organization promotes both public and private corporations to share the costs of the projects that will secure, reinstate, and oversee these abodes.


The NAWCA’s first aim is to reinstate the wet habitations to improve the quality and quantity of water in the locations it covers. They aim to rejuvenate the drying aquifers in these wetlands and scale down the eventuality of soil erosion in case of flooding. They also aim to reduce water and soil pollutants.

A commendable result of the funds raised through this grant-reliant syndicate has been instrumental in aiding the generation of jobs for many people. The same constructions of sanctuaries and the conservancies have experienced an open window of opportunity to call for researchers and managers. The vast population of citizens has benefited from this.

On a recreational front, this act has paved the way for many professionals like researchers, photographers, not forgetting tourists, to get a chance to experience nature that would otherwise be extinct by now.

NAWCA is currently active in three states, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. And in all the three states, they have promising projects underway and ones that have already been completed.


The history of duck hunting is rather extensive, and this piece has covered the bulk of it.

One thing stands out, though; there have been significant changes throughout the process. Besides, they are all aimed at making wildlife thrive and survive in a possible apt way.

The history of duck hunting has seen its fair share of troubles and confrontations, but the pre-eminent news is that there were sharp-witted and well-formulated solutions that saw a convert for the convalescent.

It may seem like the end of the road, but it is just the unfolding and continuation of a vivid, dazzling hereafter for duck hunting and other wildlife.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>