Opportunities for duck and goose action in the Central Flyway abound. Here’s how Duck Hunting Nation ranks the states
Our third Duck Hunting Nation roundup covers the big skies of the Central Flyway. From huge flocks of mallards and geese whirling over North Dakota grainfields to endless lines of redheads and pintails off the Texas coast, this flyway offers perhaps unlimited potential. We’ve updated each state’s page with license costs, links to current regulations and other vital information.
Elk and mule deer might get folks dreaming of Colorado, but surprisingly good duck hunting and solid goose opportunities earn this state a high Duck Hunting Nation grade. Big river corridors provide good duck action — especially late — and the Front Range is a bona fide goose destination.
The Sunflower State has become more popular with hunters lately, and it’s easy to see why. Kansas holds mallards all winter and is also a prime goose area. Further, it has fantastic public access to private lands via its Walk-In Hunting program. As such, Kansas gets a solid B from Duck Hunting Nation.
Like Colorado, Montana conjures visions of big game and big mountains. But it’s also a prime waterfowling state and earns a B from Duck Hunting Nation. Local ducks abound early, and Montana also sees lots of migrants from Canada. The state is also a goose magnet. Oh, and it has loads of public land.
Only one factor prevents Nebraska from earning an A from Duck Hunting Nation: somewhat limited public access. Otherwise, this heartland state is a major duck and goose hunting destination. Late-season field hunting for mallards and honkers can be especially good.
Poor New Mexico. It’s just not waterfowl country, and its Duck Hunting Nation grade reflects that. Actually, duck action here can be decent. You’ll just have to search long and hard to find it. On the bright side, more than half the state is publicly owned, so access shouldn’t be a problem.
This production and migration titan is one of the country’s most famous waterfowling destinations, and it merits every bit of its A rating from Duck Hunting Nation. Early geese? Check. Early ducks? Got you covered. Great late-season action over cut grainfields? Yep. Plus, you’ll find plenty of public spots to hunt.
The Sooner State has become a go-to waterfowl destination in recent years, and its A grade from Duck Hunting Nation shouldn’t surprise anyone. It offers an almost unmatched array of public hunting opportunities, many at properties managed for ducks. And late-season field action can be otherworldly.
Well-traveled hunters know that South Dakota is every bit as good for waterfowl as its more famous northern cousin. Only one factor limits it to a B grade from Duck Hunting Nation: The state limits nonresident waterfowl hunting licenses. Otherwise, the endless network of potholes, sloughs, big water and ag fields in eastern South Dakota will amaze even veteran fowlers.
The Lone Star State is a great place to hunt ducks and geese, and its massive annual harvests reflect that. Names such as Eagle Lake (geese) and Laguna Madre (redheads) are legendary among waterfowlers. Public access can be challenging. That might be the only reason Texas scores a B from Duck Hunting Nation.
Only a lack of waterfowling quantity limits this state to a C grade. The quality of duck and goose hunting in Wyoming can actually be pretty good. Remember, the state has lots of river drainages and gets a nice spillover migration from Alberta and Montana. And prairie pothole hunting in the state’s eastern parts can be productive.
Realtree waterfowl editor Brian Lovett has been an obsessive duck and goose hunter for more than 30 years, chasing his passion on the Dakota prairies and the marshes and open water of his home state of Wisconsin. He's been a writer and editor in the outdoors industry since 1991.