Having a safe and successful duck season
Victoria provides some of the best hunting in Australia. However, it is important to remember there are many things you can do to help ensure you get the most out of your hunting experience and avoid problems that could spoil your duck season.
This page will outline some of the key things to remember this duck season and provide you with links to more detailed information.
Our Authorised Officers are there to help you understand the laws and will be visiting campsites to provide advice and information on hunting. Authorised Officers will also be enforcing hunting laws on public and private land throughout the season.
Where to hunt
No one can tell you where game ducks will be when you go hunting. Successful hunters always do a bit of scouting prior to the season to check water levels and game duck numbers. Some organisations like Field and Game Australia also run events prior to the season where they provide a summary of water levels and duck numbers. Parks Victoria's website will list some wetland water levels on State Game Reserves about a week before the season starts.
Some additional hunting maps are also provided by other government agencies. Maps on popular duck hunting locations like Lake Hume, Eildon, Nagambie, Eppalock and Cairn Curran Reservoir are available.
Season, bag limits, game species, equipment and methods.
This year's duck season started on Saturday, 16 March 2019 and closed Sunday, 19 May 2019.
Two new regulations were introduced before the 2018 duck season to ensure that hunters make all reasonable efforts to immediately recover any downed birds and that they salvage at least the breast meat from harvested birds.
Multilingual education material (Turkish, Greek, Arabic, Italian and Maltese) can be found on this page.
Legal hunting times
It is important to stick to the legal times for hunting as it helps ensures safety, equity and allows hunters enough light to adequately identify birds. Hunting early or late is illegal and fines and equipment seizure may result.
There will be a single start time across the whole of Victoria for the opening of the 2018 duck season.
Hunting for the 2019 opening Saturday (16 March 2019) will commence at 9.00 am across the whole state.
Hunting on Sunday (19 March 2018) will commence at 8.00 am across the whole state.
For the rest of the season hunting times will revert to the standard regulated times (i.e. hunting can occur from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset).
5 game ducks per day and no Blue-winged Shoveler can be hunted.
Black Duck, Mountain Duck, Wood Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Hardhead, Grey Teal and Chestnut Teal are the only duck species which can be legally hunted in Victoria during the 2018 duck season.
Note that Blue-winged Shoveler can not be hunted during the 2018 duck season.
A new video called DuckWISE is also now available to help all duck hunters identify game and non-game species, promote responsible and lawful hunter behaviour and provide important information on effective and efficient hunting practices and firearm safety.
Closing or further regulating hunting areas
From time to time wetlands may need to be further regulated or closed and then re-opened during duck season. Further regulation of a hunting area may put additional restrictions on hunting times, equipment or methods used for hunting. Closing a hunting area (like a wetland) can involve partial closure or full closure and the time-frame for closure may also vary. Please check this page for information on closing or further regulating hunting areas.
You must have passed the Waterfowl Identification Test in order to obtain a game licence to hunt ducks. Make sure you have a valid game and firearms licence when you are hunting.
Shotguns and ammunition
You can only use a shotgun to hunt ducks that does not exceed 12 gauge or have more than two barrels. Only non-toxic shot can be used and hunters caught using or possessing lead shot run the risk of fines, firearms seizure and court.
Retain a fully-feathered wing
All hunters must leave a fully-feathered wing on any harvested duck until immediately prior to cooking or until the duck has been taken to the person's ordinary place of residence. This allows Authorised Officers to quickly and accurately identify all waterfowl in a hunter's possession.
Only specified gundog breeds can be used to assist you in your duck hunting. No crossbreeds are allowed. Please ensure your gundog is trained to a standard that will not make it a nuisance to other hunters or public land users.
Hunting from a boat can be a successful method of duck hunting but it is important to remember that you still need to ensure you have and use all the required safety equipment including lifejackets. Hunters also need to remember that you are allowed to hunt ducks from a boat under power (up to 5 knots) on waterways (such as rivers, creeks and streams) but it is illegal to hunt ducks from a boat with the motor running on open water (such as lakes, dams or swamps). You are not allowed to hunt, take or destroy ducks from a moving boat on open water. You can use the boat to retrieve your ducks on open water as long as the boat travels at 5 knots or less.
Hunters are advised to use portable, temporary hides. These days commercially bought hides are effective, relatively cheap and convenient to set up, move and remove. They are also a preferred option to removing native vegetation.
Under the new Wildlife (State Game Reserve) Regulations 2014 there are only a certain number of native plant species that you can use to build blinds and hides in State Game Reserves.
The species are:
- Phragmites australis, a common reed found in many State Game Reserves;
- Leptospermum spp (Tea Tree); and
- Typha spp (Cumbungi/Bullrush).
More information can be found here.
The future of hunting depends on how you conduct yourself as a hunter.
As a responsible hunter you should always:
- Respect animals
- Respect the environment
- Respect other hunters
- Respect the hunt
- Respect non-hunters
- Respect the laws
More details on each of these standard can be found here.
Firearms transport and storage
Never carry a loaded firearm in your car or around the campsite.
When transporting a shotgun in a vehicle ensure it is unloaded and secured. Locked out-of-sight, in a car boot or lock box is considered secure. Ammunition should also be secured and out of sight.
A loaded firearm should never be brought into a campsite. Once unloaded, the shotgun should be secured. The most appropriate place for this is the same place you secured it when transporting it to the location (i.e. locked out-of-sight in a car boot or lock box). A shotgun or ammunition left in a tent or the general campsite, is not considered secure.
Restrictions apply to having campfires in Victoria. The video on this page will show you how to safely light and maintain your campfire.
Collect your spent shotgun shells
A responsible hunter will always respect the environment in which they hunt. Make sure you take your spent shotgun shells with you and dispose of them correctly.
Feathers, offal and carcass remains can be stored in a rubbish bag and disposed of in a rubbish bin. If this is not possible, the remains should be buried in a site clear of vegetation and at least 50 metres away from water.
Other useful information
During some seasons, blue-green algae can become a problem on Victorian waterways. This algae can be dangerous to hunters and their dogs. For more information, please read the blue-green algae fact sheet.
Mosquito-proof your hunting trip
Hunters are camping or in the field typically in environments where, and at times when, mosquitoes are most active. It is important to take relevant precautions to protect yourself from serious mosquito-borne diseases that are present in Victoria. This fact sheet can help you minimise the risks of your hunting trip being ruined by mosquitoes and protect you from diseases like Ross River Virus, Barmah Forest Virus and Murray Valley encephalitis.
The GMA has developed Fact Sheets which provide more information on some of the topics covered on this page and on additional topics like Duck hunting and Blue-green algae, Duck hunting and public safety and Avian botulism.The Victorian Hunting Manual is a comprehensive guide to hunting and the Game Hunting Victoria app is also a useful resources you can take out into the field. The Game Hunting App can calculate the start and end times for your hunting trip depending on where you are in the state and provides directions to, and maps of, State Game Reserves.
Don't tolerate illegal hunting. Call 136 186, report it online, or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000
The irresponsible or illegal behaviour of some can damage the reputation of hunters and create unsafe or unsustainable situations. It is important that hunters act responsibly and encourage the rest of the community to do the right thing.
If you see any illegal behaviour call 136 186, report it online or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. All information will be treated in confidence. Helpful information includes: time and date of activity; location; number of people involved; vehicle registration; the nature of the activity; and equipment used.