Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations

Canada Geese and white-fronted Geese

  • Season (Statewide):
    • Sept. 2-24
    • Oct. 7-22
    • Nov. 18-26
    • Dec. 9 - Jan. 28
  • Daily Limit: 5 (combined)

Common (Wilson’s) Snipe

  • Season (Statewide): Nov. 14 - Feb. 28
  • Daily Limit: 8


  • Season (Statewide):
    • Nov. 18-26
    • Dec. 9 - Jan. 28
  • Daily Limit: 15


  • Season (Statewide): Nov. 5 - Feb. 28
  • Limit: No limit


  • Season (Statewide):
    • Sept. 2 - Oct. 8
    • Nov. 18-26
    • Dec. 19 - Jan. 31
  • Daily Limit: 15


  • Season (Statewide):
    • Nov. 18-26
    • Dec. 9 - Jan. 28
  • Daily Limit: 6 (Maximum of 4 sea ducks)


  • Season (Statewide):
    • Nov. 18-26
    • Dec. 9 - Jan. 28
  • Daily Limit: 15


  • Season (Statewide):
    • Nov. 18-26
    • Dec. 9 - Jan. 28
  • Daily Limit: 5

Snow Geese

  • Season (Statewide):
    • Oct. 7-22
    • Nov. 18-26
    • Dec. 9 - Jan. 28
  • Daily Limit: 5

Sora and Rails

  • Season (Statewide):
    • Oct. 8-28
    • Nov. 8 - Dec. 26
  • Daily Limits:
    • King & Clapper: 15
    • Sora & Virginia: 25


  • Season (Statewide): Sept. 9-24
  • Daily Limit: 6


  • Season (Statewide): Dec. 9 - Jan. 22
  • Daily Limit: 3

Note: Possession limits are three times the respective daily bag limits.

Duck & Sea Duck Daily Bag Limits


  • Black or Mottled Duck: 1 per day
  • Canvasback: 2 per day
  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck: 1 per day
  • Mallard: 2 per day (no more than 1 hen)
  • Pintail: 1 per day
  • Redhead: 2 per day
  • Scaup: 1 per day
  • Wood Duck: 3 per day

Sea Ducks (Scoter, Eider, Long-tailed Duck)

  • Eider: 3 per day (no more than 1 hen)
  • Long-tailed Duck: 3 per day
  • Scoter: 3 per day

Note: These limits are part of the overall daily bag limit of 6 ducks.

Federally Regulated Migratory Birds Guidelines

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Framework

  • Season Dates & Length: Establishes opening/closing dates and maximum season length
  • Bag Limits: Sets maximum bag limits
  • State Authority: Allows states to set specific hunting dates and limits within federal parameters

Georgia's Season Decisions

  • Maximized Opportunities: Select season dates and bag limits for optimal hunting within USFWS guidelines

Federal & State Compliance

  • Regulations: Additional federal rules for take, possession, transport, and storage of migratory birds
  • Consultation Required: Hunters must review Title 50, CFR, Part 20 for official federal regulations

GA Waterfowl & Migratory Bird License Requirements

To hunt migratory birds in Georgia—which include species such as doves, ducks, geese, woodcock, snipe, coots, soras, rails, and gallinules—hunters aged 16 and older must possess a valid GA Waterfowl & Migratory Bird License. This mandate ensures that hunters are identifiable for conservation and regulation purposes. However, Georgia facilitates certain hunters by granting a free GA Waterfowl & Migratory Bird License under specific circumstances. This complimentary license extends to resident landowners hunting on their property, showcasing Georgia’s acknowledgment of private land stewardship and its role in habitat conservation.

Additionally, holders of several types of sportsman’s and disability licenses are eligible for this exemption. This includes individuals with a Sportsman’s License, Youth Sportsman’s License, Disability Sportsman’s License, Disability Hunting License, and those honored with an Honorary License or who have invested in a Lifetime Sportsman’s License. By offering the license at no cost to these individuals, Georgia encourages a diverse group of citizens to participate in hunting activities while maintaining the integrity of its licensing system. These provisions ensure that the state can effectively manage migratory bird populations while providing accessible hunting opportunities for various population segments.

Federal Duck Stamp Obligations for Waterfowl Hunters

For those seeking the thrill of hunting waterfowl such as ducks and geese, a Federal Duck Stamp is a non-negotiable requirement for anyone 16 years of age or older. This includes resident landowners and their immediate family members, emphasizing that ownership of land does not exempt one from federal regulations pertaining to waterfowl hunting. Demonstrating its importance in wildlife conservation, the revenue generated from the sale of these stamps directly supports the preservation of migratory bird habitats.

The stamp's validity spans the hunting season, beginning on July 1 and expiring on June 30 of the following year, covering the full cycle of migratory patterns. Hunters are instructed to sign the Federal Duck Stamp in ink across its face, thereby personalizing it for use and preventing unauthorized transfer—a critical step to comply with legal hunting practices.

Accessible purchase options for the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp cater to various preferences. Traditionalists can acquire the stamp in person at any U.S. Post Office, while those seeking convenience can call 1-800-STAMP24. Digital platforms have made acquisition even simpler, with the stamp available through the GoOutdoorsGeorgia online portal, as well as the United States Postal Service's website at usps.com, amplifying the stamp’s availability to safeguard that all waterfowl hunters can comply with federal law.

Regulations for Hunting Crows

In the pursuit of crows, hunters are granted the allowance to use electronic calls—a significant departure from traditional methods. This technology can mimic the various sounds of crows, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the hunt. The allowance of such calls acknowledges the unique aspects of hunting this particular species, providing hunters with modern tools to match their quarry's intelligence and wariness.

The standard regulations also accommodate instances where crows pose a threat to agricultural interests. In these cases, landowners or designated hunters can take crows outside of the established hunting seasons. This exception is solely to mitigate damage to crops or livestock, reflecting the balance between wildlife management and the protection of agricultural livelihoods. It serves as a reminder that while hunting is a regulated sport, there are provisions in place to address wildlife-related issues that impact economic stability and food production.

Eurasian Collared Dove Hunting Regulations

Eurasian Collared Doves, distinguishable by the characteristic black "collar" on the nape of their necks, are subject to unique hunting regulations. Unlike other game birds, they can be hunted year-round, without any seasonal restrictions. This open season acknowledges their status as an invasive species, which can often compete with native birds for resources.

In addition, there is no bag limit for Eurasian Collared Doves, meaning hunters can harvest as many of these doves as they can or wish to. The absence of a limit further highlights the management goal to control their population and reduce potential ecological impacts. Hunters aiming at these doves enjoy a liberal framework specifically designed to mitigate the environmental concerns associated with their proliferation.

Legal Hunting Hours for Migratory Birds

The timeframe during which hunters may legally pursue migratory birds is clearly defined to ensure ethical hunting practices. Hunters are permitted to begin their activity half an hour before sunrise, capitalizing on the early behavior patterns of migratory birds. This pre-dawn window offers a blend of low light conditions which many hunters find advantageous.

The period extends uninterrupted until the very moment of sunset, marking the end of permissible hunting hours. This timeframe aligns with the natural daily cycle of migratory birds, providing hunters with a full spectrum of daylight in which to engage with their sport. Hunters must adhere to these specified hours, as they are carefully designed to balance the hunters' opportunities with conservation needs and ethical standards of hunting.

Federal Youth, Active Duty Military, & Veterans Waterfowl Days: Nov. 11-12, 2023

On November 11th and 12th, 2023, a designated hunting event takes place entitled Federal Youth, Active Duty Military, & Veterans Waterfowl Days. During this event, youths who are 16 years old or younger have the privilege to hunt specific birds—waterfowl and geese. However, these young hunters must not venture alone; they are required to be accompanied by an adult. This adult must be no younger than 18 years old and be present for supervision purposes; they are prohibited from hunting during the youth's hunting period.

In parallel, distinct permissions are granted to active-duty military members and individuals who have served and are now veterans. They too are granted the opportunity to hunt waterfowl and geese on the same days. Nevertheless, both military personnel and veterans must comply with standard licensing requirements pivotal for lawful hunting. This adherence extends to the observance of designated bag limits which regulate the number of birds that may be legally taken.

It is important to understand that these opportunities are not only acts of tradition but are carefully managed to sustain wildlife populations. The event reflects a commitment to conservation while honoring those who serve or have served in the armed forces. It provides a space for intergenerational learning and outdoor experiences, and for the youth, it’s a moment to gain valuable hunting knowledge and skills under the guidance of responsible adults.

Non-Toxic Shot Requirements for Waterfowl Hunting

For hunters engaging in waterfowl hunting, specific ammunition regulations are enforced to protect wildlife from lead poisoning and promote environmental health. The shotguns used must be 10-gauge or smaller and must be loaded exclusively with nontoxic shots. The size of this shot must be “F” or smaller, falling within the federally approved size guidelines for nontoxic shots. It is imperative to understand that the possession of lead shot while hunting waterfowl is strictly prohibited.

The move away from lead shot to nontoxic alternatives such as steel, bismuth, or tungsten alloys is designed to minimize the detrimental impact of lead on both the waterfowl and their ecosystems. Lead pellets can be mistakenly ingested by birds foraging on the ground or in the water, leading to lead poisoning, which is often fatal. The use of nontoxic shots is an essential measure in conservation efforts, ensuring that hunting practices are sustainable and do not jeopardize the health of avian populations or their natural habitats. Hunters must be diligent in selecting the appropriate ammunition before heading out into the field to ensure compliance with these environmental and wildlife protection standards.

Possession of Migratory Birds Harvested by Another

In circumstances where an individual has migratory birds that were harvested by a different hunter, there are stringent regulatory requirements to ensure legal compliance. Documentation is mandatory, and the person possessing these birds must carry written proof that includes several key details from the hunter who harvested the birds.

This written proof must contain the original hunter's signature—providing a personal authentication of the transfer. The document must also include the hunter's full address for verification purposes. It is further required to specify the precise number of birds taken, broken down by species, to account for the exact nature of the harvested birds. Finally, the dates on which these birds were harvested must be recorded, adhering to the timeline and legal hunting periods set forth by wildlife management authorities.

This rule is in place to uphold the legal standards governing the hunting and transfer of migratory birds, which are protected under international agreements and federal laws. Such measures are designed to monitor and control the hunting of these species, prevent the illegal trade of wildlife, and assist in the management of natural resources. It is crucial for those in possession of harvested migratory birds to understand and conform to these documentation requirements, ensuring transparency and responsibility in the stewardship of wildlife populations.

Reporting Banded Migratory Birds

Hunters who have the fortune of harvesting a banded migratory bird are tasked with an important reporting duty. These bands are part of a critical research initiative to track migratory patterns, survival rates, and other vital data for bird conservation efforts. Upon recovery of a banded bird, hunters are required to visit the Bird Banding Laboratory's official reporting website—www.reportband.gov.

At this site, hunters will need to report the unique band number that is affixed to the bird. This number is crucial, as it provides researchers with specific information about the individual bird. The hunter must also provide comprehensive details of the recovery, including the method of harvest, the exact date, and the precise location where the bird was taken.

This collected data contributes significantly to the ongoing study and management of bird populations. The insights gained from the reported information not only help in understanding species behavior and ecology but also guide conservation policies and practices. Hunters play a key role in this citizen science project and their cooperation is essential in helping ornithologists, biologists, and other researchers preserve the avian life that is integral to our global biodiversity.

Falconry Regulations for Migratory Bird Hunting

For individuals practicing falconry with the intent of hunting migratory birds, adherence to specific regulations is essential. Firstly, possession of a valid falconry permit along with a hunting license is compulsory for these individuals to engage in the hunting of migratory birds legally.

Limits and Dates

The hunting limits for falconers are strictly enforced. Each participant is allowed to harvest a maximum of 3 migratory birds per day, with a total possession limit not exceeding 9 birds at any given time. Moreover, there are specific date windows within which falconry for migratory birds is permitted:

  • September 2-24
  • October 7-22
  • November 11-12
  • November 18 - December 2
  • December 9 - January 28

Additional Precautions

Falconers need to exercise caution as certain locations, particularly National Wildlife Refuges open to public hunting, may have more restrictive regulations. Such areas are managed to protect wildlife and their habitats, and as a result, may impose additional limitations or guidelines.

Seeking Further Information

For individuals seeking detailed information on Federal Regulations related to migratory bird hunting with falconry, resources are available. The appropriate point of contact is the Special Agent-in-Charge at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, located at 75 Spring Street, S.W., Atlanta, GA 30303. Additionally, inquiries can be made by phone, calling the provided number at 404-679-7057 for direct guidance and regulation clarification. Compliance with these regulations is a responsibility that the falconry community must take seriously to maintain ecological balance and uphold legal standards for wildlife conservation.

Special Waterfowl Hunting Regulations for Select Georgia Lakes

Lakes Allatoona & Lanier Restrictions

Hunting on Lakes Allatoona & Lanier is subject to strict regulations with specific limitations to ensure safety and public peace. Within these lakes, hunting is prohibited within 600 feet of any dock, house, structure, bridge, road, boat ramp, marina, or designated open recreation area. Hunters interested in pursuing waterfowl in these areas should contact the local Game Management Region Office to obtain the schedule for open dates, confirm which closed recreation areas are open for hunting, and understand other special rules about these lakes. Alternatively, hunters can visit the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division website at georgiawildlife.com/migratory-bird-info for updated information.

Georgia Power Lakes (North Georgia)

For those interested in hunting within the Georgia Power Lakes in North Georgia, similar but slightly less restrictive regulations apply. Hunting is forbidden within 300 feet of any dock, house, boat ramp, marina, or open recreation area unless permission has been granted by the leaseholder or property owner. The lakes that are open for duck and goose hunting include Lake Burton, Lake Seed, Lake Rabun, Tallulah Falls Lake, Lake Tugalo, and Lake Yonah. For dates and additional specific rules regarding waterfowl hunting on these lakes, hunters should reach out to the Game Management Region 2 Office at 770-535-5700 or refer to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division website mentioned previously.

Lake Walter F. George (LWFG)

On Lake Walter F. George situated in Georgia, no hunting is allowed within 600 feet of any dock, structure, or similarly listed features as above. Furthermore, land-based waterfowl hunting on LWFG is only permitted within determined “Hunting Areas.” To hunt waterfowl in areas of the lake, excluding Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), hunters will require a Corps permit. This can be obtained either in person or by mail. More information regarding the purchase of a permit can be sourced at www.sam.usace.army.mil or by calling 229-768-2516.

Other Lakes (South of Standing Boy Creek)

In various other lakes inclusive of Lake Blackshear, Lake Oconee, Lake Seminole, Lake Sinclair, and Lake Oliver, which is south of Standing Boy Creek, hunting is once again not permissible within 300 feet of the specified structures and areas. These measures are taken to balance the needs and safety of hunters, wildlife, and the general public when it comes to the managed lands and waters in Georgia. Compliance with these regulations is essential for the sustainable and respectful enjoyment of waterfowl hunting.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.