Duck hunting in the state of Utah is a unique affair, especially out on the Great Salt Lake. If you enjoy fan-boat rides akin to what you will find in the swamps of Louisiana, you’ll absolutely love it.
Utah does require more than just the standard Utah hunting license if you wish to hunt waterfowl in the state. First, if you are above the age of fifteen, you have to have a federal duck stamp, which you can buy at any of the local post offices throughout the state.
Second, you have to have a Harvest Information Program number. Both (all three if you include the hunting license) are prerequisites if you want to enjoy waterfowl hunting. It’s a little onerous for avid duck hunters, but the prize is more than worth it.
Utah Duck Hunting Season
Utah is split into two zones, both of which have their own duck-hunting seasons. There is one exception to the normal waterfowl hunting dates, both youth and regular—falconry. Youth falconers have to be 17 years old or younger and born before July 31.
Apparently, falconry is a much broader sport in Utah, especially with youths. However, the remaining duck season dates, from start to finish and in both zones, remain the same for falconers and regular hunters alike.
Northern Zone dates
The season starts early for youth waterfowl hunts, usually around mid-September. The youth hunting period doesn’t necessarily end. It just runs into the regular hunting season for everyone else, which starts early in October.
The season doesn’t have any breaks and generally runs from early October to mid-January. Scaup essentially has its own season. It starts at the same time as the regular season but stops close to the end of the year.
Southern Zone dates
The youth hunters in the Southern Zone get started in the first few days of October, with the rest of the season-opening up in mid-October. The season doesn’t let up until late January. However, scaup starts in the first week of November and ends when the regular season ends.
Where to Hunt
The number of places to hunt ducks in Utah is extensive, with the Great Salt Lake being the number one place to go. Fortunately, there are also a large number of popular duck hunting spots in terms of WMAs (Wildlife Management Areas).
The Salt Creek WMA is a priority, but there is also Timpie Springs, Topaz WMA, Willard Spur, Clear Lake, Harold Crane, Howard Slough, Locomotive Springs, and Ogden Bay. Any one of these WMAs offers incredible duck hunting opportunities.
If you want, you can join the Utah Waterfowl Slam for $20. It’s a competitive opportunity for duck hunters (waterfowl hunters actually) who also want to help Utah manage waterfowl. It’s something to think about, especially if you want to compete or want to get your kids into something competitive as well.
What Ducks can you Shoot
During the Utah duck season, you will find all of the same ducks you find just about anywhere else. Utah lined up in the migratory path as pretty as Michigan is, but they still get their fair share of ducks throughout the migratory season.
Mallards, canvasbacks, pintails, redheads, scaups, coots, wood ducks, and mergansers are all on the menu, and you are welcome to bag your limit of each. Black ducks aren’t on the list, but that’s not something you see in Utah very often.
The mergansers include the common, red-breasted, and hooded varieties, of which there is no specific limit outside of “merganser.”
The possession limit in Utah is pretty common across the country. The total possession is three times your daily bag limit. For all ducks, mergansers, and scaup, the daily bag limit is 7, with the exceptions listed below.
- Mallards: no more than 2 females
- Canvasbacks: no more than 2
- Pintails: only 1 per day
- Redheads: no more than 2
- Wood ducks: no more than 2
- Coots: up to 25 daily
If you are reading the wildlife.utah.gov limits on ducks, it’s easy to confuse the number of scaups you can bag per day. While it sort of says 7 scaups per day, the real number is 2 scaups per day, with a possession limit of 6.
The Great Salt Lake is the biggest attraction for duck hunters each year, and it’s as close to the “beach” experience as you’re going to get in Utah. It’s also known to be a pretty wet slog, spending time on fan boats and your belly or back in the water while the temperatures are quite chilly.
Your best bet is to dress warmly and bring a pack of dry clothes with you because you’re going to get wet, waders or not. There are a lot of other bodies of water throughout Utah that make for some pretty good duck hunting as well.
If the Great Salt Lake is a bit too crowded and competitive, you can always give one of the other WMAs a shot.
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