Hunting External Affairs

What responsibilities do migratory bird hunters have?

As a migratory bird hunter, your primary responsibility is to obtain a state hunting license and a federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, better known as a "duck stamp". You may also need to get a state waterfowl stamp.

You can buy Federal duck samps from the Federal Duck Stamp program in Washington, D.C., at any first or second class U.S. Post Office, various sporting goods stores – including many K-Mart and Wal-Mart stores – and most national wildlife refuges.

Hunters also are required to register for the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program for each state in which they hunt migratory birds. Registering for the HIP doesn't cost anything, and enables the Service to contact you as part of a nationwide survey. The Service randomly selects a small sample of hunters from all Harvest Information Program registrants and asks them to provide information on the kind and number of migratory birds they harvest during the hunting season. This information is then used to develop reliable estimates of the total harvest of all migratory birds throughout the country, estimates that help us set bag limits and season lengths for the upcoming season.

You also must use steel or other approved non-toxic shot when hunting waterfowl. Lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting in the United States since 1991, because of the toxic effect it has on waterfowl that ingest spent pellets. Hunters have a choice of non-toxic shots for the current waterfowl season.

Hunters also have a responsibility to understand and obey federal laws and regulations governing waterfowl baiting and dove baiting. You can be cited for hunting over bait if you know or reasonably should have known that the area you hunt has been baited. Take the time to inspect your hunting area and ask the landowner about any potential bait before beginning a hunt.