Duck Hunting in South Dakota

Back to All State Reports
  • B
  • 188,100

    Duck Statewide Harvest

  • 75,600

    Goose Statewide Harvest

  • 15,600

    No. Waterfowl Licenses Sold Annually

  • 13.5

    Ducks Per Hunter

  • 6.7

    Geese Per Hunter

  • $33; one-day small-game license, $12

    Cost of Resident Waterfowl Hunting License

  • $5

    Cost of Resident State Stamps and Permits

  • $25

    Federal Duck Stamp

  • $86 to $121

    Cost of Non-Resident Waterfowl Hunting License

  • $25

    Federal Duck Stamp

Duck Hunting Nation Knowledge

Most states wish they had South Dakota’s duck hunting. Even with the habitat degraded somewhat because of the loss of Conservation Reserve Program grass, this state is still a duck factory for hatching resident birds and hosting migrants.

Today, duck hunting licenses are limited for nonresidents, and you would do well to study the relatively complex hunting units and seasons, and past draw statistics before planning a duck hunting expedition there.

Although it’s understandable South Dakota might have to limit the influx of hunters (especially at migration time), it combines to drop the state to a B rating.

Still, few places are like the prairie pothole country of central and eastern South Dakota during the mallard migration of big red-legged Canadian greenheads. If you leave the cornfields and hunt some water, this is still a place where bluebills fly, as the birds seem to have shifted westward from their old-time Minnesota migration corridor.

Add the state’s river corridors into the mix — namely the Missouri and James — and there’s ample waterfowling opportunity.

Another positive: South Dakota has no shortage of public lands to hunt, including 281,000 acres of game production areas and 150,000 acres of WPAs (waterfowl production areas). Other opportunities include a strong Walk In Area program for private lands, and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program acres, many of which have wetlands.

Notes: Check out South Dakota’s great early goose season in September. There’s a tundra swan season, too. Nonresidents have to apply in a lottery (usually by mid-July) by zone for South Dakota duck hunting licenses.

— Compiled and written by Tom Carpenter

Photo © A.S. Floro/Shutterstock

Seasons and Bag Limits