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.
Whether you’re a beginner who’s looking to experience your first hunt or a seasoned veteran who has been away from the duck blind for a while, there has never been a better time to hunt ducks and geese in Colorado.
13 Waterfowl Hunting Resources and Tips
1. Abundant Duck Populations Await Waterfowl Hunters
Thanks to several years of wet weather and good nesting conditions across the Continental United States and Canada, nationwide duck populations remain above average. With excellent numbers of ducks likely to pass through the state this winter, there has never been a better time to dust off the decoys, grab the Labrador and high-tail-it to your favorite warm-water slough, river, lake or reservoir.
2. Women Afield Hunting Program
Are you a woman who’s interested in learning more about hunting? If so, you’re not alone. Women comprise the fastest-growing segment of hunters. To meet this growing demand, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers a women’s-only hunting program called “Women Afield.” Dedicated to teaching women basic hunting and shooting skills, the Women Afield program offers a hands-on learning experience in a comfortable environment. Women Afield provides the perfect opportunity for women to explore their interest in hunting and to develop camaraderie in a fun, group setting. Mentored hunts and skills clinics are available on an ongoing basis across the state.
3. Colorado Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Closer to home, DU’s Colorado Website features local events and Colorado Conservation Projects. The site also offers a variety of hunting tips to help you get the most out of your next outing. Ducks Unlimited is your ultimate resource for all things waterfowl hunting in Colorado.
4. Get Started with Hunter Education
Obtaining a hunter education certificate (aka orange card) is one of the first steps in becoming a hunter. Colorado Parks and Wildlife makes it fun and easy to earn your hunter safety card by offering a variety of classroom-based and online hunter-education courses. Designed to accommodate any schedule and learning preference, CPW’s hunter education courses provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to become a safe, responsible and ethical hunter. Hunter education also offers a great opportunity to explore your budding interest and to learn more about the different types of hunting opportunities in Colorado.
5. Where to Waterfowl Hunt in Colorado
Are you looking for a place to hunt ducks and geese? Colorado offers some of the best public hunting access in the nation. Here you can hunt state wildlife areas, state trust lands and many state parks. In addition, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers a Walk-In Access program, which provides access to private land that CPW has leased for small-game and waterfowl hunting. To manage hunting pressure, most of the state wildlife areas and state parks require hunters to make advanced reservations. For more information about Colorado’s public-land hunting opportunities, pick up a copy of the Colorado State Recreation Lands and Walk-In-Access brochures. Click HERE for tips on hunting ducks on Colorado’s public lands.
6. Waterfowl ID Resources
For waterfowl hunters, being able to quickly and correctly identify ducks on the wing is an important part of the hunt. Thanks to Ducks Unlimited’s online waterfowl identification resources, hunters can sharpen their duck ID skills on their home PC. DU’s interactive mobile apps are also a great tool for hunters to use while sitting in the duck blind. With an Android or iPhone, hunters can access photos, sounds, descriptions, migration patterns and population estimates of the most popular waterfowl species in North America. The mobile apps also provide a fun way to teach kids how to ID birds before heading into the field.
7. Colorado Small Game & Waterfowl Brochure
The Colorado Small Game & Waterfowl brochure is available now and features a wealth of information for hunters. The brochure includes season dates, bag and possession limits and lists special regulations for specific locations. Brochures are available at statewide license agents and parks and wildlife offices. An online brochure is also available on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website. The brochure’s user-friendly design and layout makes it easy to find information quickly.
8. Waterfowl Migration Map and Reports
Successful waterfowl hunters plan their hunting trips around inclement weather and waterfowl migration patterns. Now, it’s easier than ever for hunters to stay in the know with DU’s Waterfowl Migration Map. The innovative, online map features thousands of real-time reports across North America from DU biologists, field editors and other leading resources. Hunters can track waterfowl migrations and plan their hunting trips accordingly.
9. Duck Calling 101
Learning how to use a duck call can be challenging for most beginners. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. Thankfully, Ducks Unlimited’s “duck calling” webpage is like Rosetta Stone for duck hunters. With this informative resource, you’ll be using “fowl” language in no time. Here you can view instructional videos that will teach you the ever popular hail, comeback and lonesome-hen calls—all designed to bring ducks within shotgun range of the blind. The site also features detailed reviews of all the latest duck and goose calls.
10. Buy Your Colorado Hunting License and Waterfowl Stamps
To hunt ducks and geese in Colorado, hunters must purchase a small-game license and both federal and state waterfowl stamps. Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s convenient online purchasing system offers a one-stop-shop for all of your license needs. It’s fast, convenient and all major credit cards are accepted. Before you head into the field, don’t forget your Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. It also is required when hunting migratory birds.
11. Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Hunter Outreach Events Calendar
Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Hunter Outreach program offers a variety of “Hunting 101” clinics to help you prepare for the upcoming hunting seasons. Clinics include shooting instruction and cover the basic techniques of waterfowl and small-game hunting. For the latest information about upcoming events, check out Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Events Calendar. New classes and clinics are added weekly.
12. DIY Duck Blind
When hunting waterfowl, a blind is essential to stay hidden from the sharp, well-trained eyes of ducks and geese. Although permanent blinds and pit-blinds typically offer the best cover and concealment, they are usually not an option when hunting public land. In this Colorado Outdoors “Quick Tip” video, you will learn how to build a simple but effective duck blind that works well for most applications. Best of all, this portable, light-weight blind costs less than $40.
A good set of duck decoys is a must-have item for any waterfowl hunter. Yet, with the vast assortment of decoys and brands available to hunters, it can be overwhelming to know exactly where to begin. If you’re a novice hunter who is about to purchase waterfowl equipment, a dozen floating mallard decoys are usually enough to begin hunting waterfowl in Colorado’s smaller sloughs, marshes and rivers.
Article by Jerry Neal. Neal is the editor for Colorado Outdoors Online and is a multimedia specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.