Waterfowl & Migratory Bird Season Dates

Understanding the season dates and regulations for waterfowl and migratory birds is crucial for responsible hunting. Here are the key details for the 2023-2024 seasons:

MOURNING DOVES

  • Statewide:
    • Sept. 1 - Oct. 15
    • Nov. 1-26
    • Dec. 16 - Jan. 3
  • Bag Limits: 15**
  • Possession Limits: 45**

SORA

  • Statewide:
    • Sept. 1 - Nov. 9
  • Bag Limits: 25
  • Possession Limits: 75

AMERICAN WOODCOCK

  • Statewide:
    • Oct. 15 - Nov. 28
  • Bag Limits: 3
  • Possession Limits: 9

SNIPE

  • Statewide:
    • Sept. 1 - Dec. 16
  • Bag Limits: 8
  • Possession Limits: 24

TEAL

  • Statewide:
    • Sept. 9-24
  • Bag Limits: 6
  • Possession Limits: 18

DUCKS, COOTS, & MERGANSERS

  • North Zone:
    • Oct. 28 - Dec. 17
    • Dec. 26 - Jan. 3
  • Central Zone:
    • Nov. 4-12
    • Nov. 24 - Jan. 13
  • South Zone:
    • Nov. 11-12
    • Dec. 2 - Jan. 28

GEESE

  • North Zone:
    • Sept. 9-17
    • Oct. 28 - Nov. 5
    • Nov. 18 - Feb. 11
  • Central Zone:
    • Sept. 9-17
    • Nov. 4-18
    • Nov. 24 - Feb. 11
  • South Zone:
    • Sept. 9-17
    • Nov. 11 - Feb. 11

Note: Bag and possession limits for doves apply collectively to all mourning dove hunting seasons.

Veteran & Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Planning for veteran and youth waterfowl hunting days is crucial for a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are the details for these special days in different zones:

North Zone

  • Dates:
    • Oct. 21-22
  • Bag Limits: Same as Regular Season *****

Central Zone

  • Dates:
    • Oct. 28-29
  • Bag Limits: Same as Regular Season *****

South Zone

  • Dates:
    • Nov. 4-5
  • Bag Limits: Same as Regular Season *****

* Shooting hours are from sunrise to sunset.

** The daily bag and possession limits are for mourning doves and white-winged doves in aggregate.

*** The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is 5, which may include no more than 2 hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for ducks is 6, which may include no more than 4 mallards (2 of which may be hens), 3 wood ducks, 2 canvasbacks, 1 pintail, 2 redheads, 2 black ducks, 1 mottled duck, and 1 or 2 scaup. The daily bag limit may include only 1 scaup before November 12 in the North Zone, November 30 in the Central Zone, and December 15 in the South Zone. The daily bag limit may include 2 scaup on or after those dates. The possession limit is 3 times the daily bag limit.

**** The daily bag limit for dark geese (Canada, white-front, brant) is 5 in the aggregate. The possession limit for dark geese is 3 times the daily bag limit. The daily bag limit for light geese (snow, blue, Ross) is 20. There is no possession limit for light geese.

***** For youth and veteran hunting dates, the daily bag for scaup is 1 per day.

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations

License Requirements

  • Youth 15 and Younger:

    • Valid hunting license
    • HIP number
  • Youth 16-17:

    • Valid youth hunting license
    • HIP number
    • Federal Duck Stamp
  • Adults 18+:

    • Valid hunting license
    • HIP number
    • Federal Duck Stamp
    • State Waterfowl Stamp
  • Lifetime License Holders and Exemptions:

    • Must obtain a Federal Duck Stamp and HIP number

Boat Usage

  • Migratory game birds may be hunted from a motorboat under specific conditions:

    • Beached
    • Resting at anchor
    • Tied to a stationary object
    • Without motion other than wind, current, hand-operated oars, or paddles
  • Retrieval from a motorboat under power is allowed, but shooting from a moving boat is prohibited.

Identification and Tagging

  • Migratory game birds in possession must have:

    • One fully feathered wing or head attached for identification in the field or during transport.
  • Tagging Requirements:

    • Hunters must tag birds with their signature, address, total number by species, and dates of kill.
    • No leaving untagged birds in the custody of others.

Shooting Hours and Ammo

  • Shooting hours:

    • One-half hour before sunrise to sunset for geese and ducks (except teal season).
  • Ammo Requirements:

    • Non-toxic shot is mandatory for waterfowl and migratory bird hunting on DNR properties.

Retrieval and Custody

  • All killed or crippled migratory game birds must be:
    • Retrieved and retained by the hunter in the field.

Legal Compliance

  • Federal Laws Enforced:
    • Indiana enforces all federal migratory bird laws.

Stamp Information

  • State Stamps:

    • Available from hunting and fishing license vendors and online.
  • Federal Duck Stamps:

    • Purchase information at fws.gov/duckstamps or on.IN.gov/INhuntfish.

Harvest Information Program (HIP)

Purpose and Collaboration

HIP is a collaborative initiative between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies. It aims to generate accurate harvest estimates for migratory game birds nationwide. The gathered information plays a pivotal role in shaping decisions about migratory game bird hunting seasons, ensuring a foundation in sound scientific evidence.

Mandatory Registration

  • Who Must Register:

    • All hunters in Indiana, regardless of license exemption, must register with HIP before hunting specific migratory game birds.
  • Covered Species:

    • Coots, doves, ducks, mergansers, geese, snipe, sora, teal, and woodcock.

Registration Process

  • How to Register:

    • Hunters must register at on.IN.gov/INhuntfish or by calling 866-671-4499.
  • Validation Number:

    • Upon registration completion, hunters receive a validation number to record on their license.
    • The number is valid from registration date until the close of the last current migratory bird hunting season.
  • Lifetime License Holders:

    • Even those exempt from Indiana license and stamp requirements must register with HIP.

Frequency and Multi-State Registration

  • Registration Frequency:

    • Hunters need to register with HIP only once each season, not each hunting trip.
  • Multi-State Hunting:

    • Hunters must register in each state they plan to hunt.

Information Collection

  • Data Required:
    • In addition to basic details, hunters answer questions identifying species hunted in the previous year and, in some cases, the number of birds harvested.

Streamlined Process

  • Efficiency:
    • The registration process is designed for efficiency, requiring hunters to register once per season.

Compliance

  • Mandatory Compliance:
    • Registration with HIP is mandatory for all eligible hunters.

National Impact

  • Decision Support:
    • The collected data aids in making informed decisions at both the national and state levels regarding migratory game bird hunting seasons.

Non-Toxic Shot

Mandatory Usage

  • Waterfowl Hunting:

    • Hunters must use approved non-toxic shot for all waterfowl hunting.
  • Mourning Doves on DNR Properties:

    • Non-toxic shot is also mandatory for hunting mourning doves on all DNR properties.

Approved Non-Toxic Shot Types

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Approval:

    • Only shot types approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are permitted. Approved non-toxic shot includes:

      • bismuth-tin
      • copper-clad iron
      • corrosion-inhibited copper
      • iron (steel)
      • iron-tungsten
      • iron-tungsten-nickel
      • tungsten-bronze
      • tungsten-iron-copper-nickel
      • tungsten-iron-polymer
      • tungsten-matrix
      • tungsten-polymer
      • tungsten-tin-bismuth
      • tungsten-tin-iron
      • tungsten-tin-iron-nickel
  • Approved Coatings:

    • Coatings of copper, nickel, tin, zinc, zinc chloride, zinc chrome, and fluoropolymers on approved non-toxic shot types are allowed.
  • Exclusions:

    • Lead shot plated with copper, nickel, or other materials does not qualify.

Legal Restrictions

  • Possession Limits:
    • It is illegal to possess shells loaded with anything other than approved non-toxic shot while hunting ducks, geese, and coots anywhere in the state.

    • Exception:

      • Lead shot is prohibited for hunting mourning doves on any state-managed property.

Historical Context

  • Lead Shot Ban:
    • The nationwide ban on using lead shot for hunting waterfowl was implemented in 1991.

Waterfowl Hunting on State Properties

Reserved Hunts Application

  • Application Process:

    • Hunters interested in participating in reserved waterfowl hunts must complete the reserved waterfowl hunt application.
  • Application Submission:

    • Applications can be submitted through the official website at hunting.IN.gov.

Further Guidance

  • Information Resource:

    • For additional details and insights regarding waterfowl hunting on state-owned properties, hunters are encouraged to reach out to the specific property of interest.
  • Contact Information:

Streamlined Application Process

  • Efficient Procedures:

    • The application process is designed to streamline the reservation of waterfowl hunts, ensuring a straightforward and accessible experience for hunters.
  • Maximizing Opportunities:

    • By leveraging the reserved hunts application, hunters can enhance their chances of securing waterfowl hunting opportunities on state properties.

Stay Informed

  • Regular Updates:
    • Stay informed about any updates, changes, or specific regulations related to waterfowl hunting on state-owned properties by checking the official resources provided by the Department of Natural Resources.

Restrictions on Migratory Game Bird Hunting

  • Prohibited Methods:

    • No person shall take migratory game birds using traps, snares, nets, rifles, pistols, swivel guns, shotguns larger than 10 gauge, punt guns, battery guns, machine guns, fish hooks, poison, drugs, explosives, or stupefying substances.
  • Shotgun Limitations:

    • It is prohibited to use a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.
  • Specific Equipment and Vehicles:

    • Migratory game birds may not be taken from a sink box or from any aircraft. The use or aid of a car or motor-driven land vehicle is restricted, except for specific exemptions for individuals with certain physical conditions.
  • Live Decoy Restrictions:

    • The use or aid of live decoys is not allowed, and tame or captive live ducks and geese must be removed and confined before hunting to prevent luring migratory waterfowl.
  • Motorized Vehicle Restrictions:

    • Driving, rallying, or chasing birds with any motorized vehicle or sailboat to position them within the range of hunters is prohibited.
  • Baiting Prohibition:

    • Baiting or hunting on or over any baited area is not allowed if the person knows or reasonably should know that the area is baited. Baiting includes placing feed as a lure, and a baited area is considered so for 10 days after complete removal of any bait.
  • Use of Electronic Calls:

    • The use of recorded or electronically amplified bird calls or sounds, as well as imitations of bird calls or sounds through electronic means, is strictly prohibited.

Compliance and Penalties

  • Regulatory Awareness:

    • Hunters are advised to be aware of and adhere to these restrictions to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.
  • Penalties:

    • Violations of these restrictions may result in federal penalties, including fines and jail time. For detailed information on baiting, visit wildlife.IN.gov.

Indiana Waterfowl and Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

Waterfowl Hunting Zones in Indiana

North Zone

  • Boundaries:
    • The North Zone includes the segment of Indiana north of a line extending east from the Illinois border along State Road 18 to U.S. 31.
    • North along U.S. 31 to U.S. 24.
    • East along U.S. 24 to Huntington.
    • Southeast along U.S. 224.
    • South along State Road 5.
    • East along State Road 124 to the Ohio border.

Central Zone

  • Boundaries:
    • The Central Zone encompasses the segment of Indiana south of the North Zone boundary and north of the South Zone boundary.

South Zone

  • Boundaries:
    • The South Zone covers the segment of Indiana south of a line extending east from the Illinois border along I-70.
    • East along National Ave.
    • East along U.S. 150.
    • South along U.S. 41.
    • East along State Road 58.
    • South along State Road 37 to Bedford.
    • East along U.S. 50 to the Ohio border.

Note:

  • Hunters should be familiar with these zone boundaries to determine applicable waterfowl hunting regulations based on their location within Indiana.

 

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Disclaimer:

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.