Despite drought conditions, Colorado hunters can expect a good waterfowl hunting season
Despite drought conditions throughout Colorado and the surrounding region, Colorado hunters should be able to find good waterfowl hunting opportunities during the 2018-19 seasons. Waterfowl hunting seasons in Colorado extend from September teal and Canada goose seasons to light goose conservation seasons ending in April.
Local waterfowl production in 2018 was likely lower than normal due to the dry conditions across the state, but most ducks and geese in Colorado during the fall and winter hunting seasons are migrants arriving from states to the north and Canada. Each year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts surveys of waterfowl and their habitats in these primary breeding areas.
In 2018, the total duck breeding population estimate in the surveyed area was 41.2 million birds, 13 percent lower than the 2017 estimate of 47.3 million but 17 percent higher than the long-term average (1955 - 2017). Numbers of the five most harvested ducks in Colorado showed similar patterns. See the full forecast for more information.
What You Need to Buy a License and Hunt
- Secure and verifiable ID; a social security number is required for new hunters age 12 and older
- For residents, proof of residency
- Proof of hunter education
- All hunters must buy a small-game license to hunt waterfowl.
- Stamps: A habitat stamp is required for anyone aged 18 through 64. All hunters age 16 and older must also have a Colorado Waterfowl Stamp and Federal Migratory Bird Stamp prior to hunting. Federal stamps are available at post offices and CPW offices. The State stamps are available at all CPW offices, from license agents, online, and by phone at 1-800-244-5613. A federal stamp is not required to take light geese during the conservation order season.
Obtaining HIP Numbers
If you intend to hunt small game (including migratory birds) in Colorado during the 2018/2019 season, you need a new Harvest Information Program number. Go to the HIP website or call 1-866-COLOHIP (265-6447) to begin the online registration process to obtain a new HIP number.
Colorado Waterfowl Hunting Resource Guide
Excitement, adventure, beautiful scenery—that’s what hunting in Colorado is truly about. And there’s no better way to experience all three than waterfowl hunting. Waterfowl hunting provides the ultimate way to connect with nature and immerse yourself in the Colorado Outdoors. For 12 resources and tips that will help you get the most out of your hunting experience this season, visit Colorado Outdoors Magazine and read Your Colorado Waterfowl Hunting Resource Guide .
Tips For Hunting Ducks on Colorado’s Public Lands
For most waterfowl hunters, finding a place to hunt is often more challenging than the hunt itself. Thankfully, Colorado offers a variety of opportunities to hunt waterfowl on public land.
Whether you’re a beginner who is planning your first hunt or a more experienced waterfowler who has been away from the duck blind for a while, visit Colorado Outdoors Online for tips and strategies that will help you have a more enjoyable and successful season.
The Colorado Rig
Central & Pacific Flyways
There are four administrative flyways in North America. Color ado is a member of both the Central and Pacific Flyways. Each Flyway Council is comprised of a representative of agencies responsible for migratory bird management in each member state, province or territory. Since the Flyway Council is the principal mechanism for dialog between the states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on migratory bird issues (including annual migratory game bird hunting regulations), each Council selects two of its members to carry and discuss its recommendations in a consultation process with the FWS. This process includes representatives from all flyways and frequently leads to the Service making proposals for the general public to comment on.
Flyways have websites that provide information on migratory bird management and flyway-specific activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also maintains a Flyways website
that is packed with news, updates, harvest management information and scientific data from the FWS and Canadian Wildlife Service. It also has other features, including:
initial assessments of waterfowl breeding habitat conditions in new video segments,
aerial photos chronicling surveys, and
interactive maps to find bird banding and recovery sites.
Report Birds with Federal Bands
If you have found or harvested a banded bird, please report it at reportband.gov. You'll need the band number, or numbers, if the bird has more than one band. You'll also need to know where, when and how you recovered the bird. Your contact information will be requested in case there are any questions. The U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Bird Banding Lab will send you a certificate of appreciation that includes information about the sex, age and species of the bird, and where and when it was banded. You can keep the band. Although most bands are inscribed with a 1-800 number, as of July 2, 2017, reports can only be submitted via reportband.gov.
Federal Regulations for Migratory Bird Hunters
Game bird hunters should be sure to read United States Fish and Wildlife Service's federal regulations for hunting migratory birds, which contains a need-to-know terms, a list of illegal hunting methods and links to additional information on refuge specific regulations. Note: When state law differs from Federal law, the hunter must comply with the most restrictive law.
Waterfowl and other migratory birds are a national resource protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Federal and State regulations help ensure that these birds continue to thrive while providing hunting opportunities.
Federal baiting regulations define key terms for hunters and land managers, and clarify conditions under which you may legally hunt waterfowl. As a waterfowl hunter or land manager, it is your responsibility to know and obey all Federal and State laws that govern the sport. State regulations can be more restrictive than Federal regulations. Waterfowl baiting regulations apply to ducks, geese, swans, coots, and cranes.
Federal regulations are more restrictive for waterfowl hunting than for hunting doves and other migratory game birds. You should carefully review the Federal regulations. See the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting web page for more information.