Duck season arrangements

2024 duck hunting season arrangements

The Victorian Government announced the following arrangements for the 2024 duck hunting season:

Season length

Season open – 8.00am on Wednesday, 10 April 2024.

Season close – 30 minutes after sunset on Wednesday, 5 June 2024.

Bag limits (modified)

Daily bag limit of six (6) game ducks per day for the 2024 season.

Hunting the Blue-winged Shoveler is prohibited for the 2024 season.

Hunting the Hardhead is prohibited for the 2024 season.

Start and finish times

For every day of the 2024 duck season, hunting starts at 8:00am. Hunting finishes 30 minutes after sunset each day.

Game duck species permitted to be taken

Six game duck species are permitted to be hunted during the 2024 season. Species permitted are Pacific Black Duck, Mountain Duck, Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal, Pink-eared Duck and Wood Duck.

The Blue-winged Shoveler and Hardhead are listed a threatened species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and cannot be hunted during the 2024 season.

Retrieval of downed game ducks

Regulations require hunters to make all reasonable efforts to immediately retrieve all downed game ducks and to salvage at least the breast meat from all harvested ducks.

Other arrangements

All other hunting arrangements remain unchanged.

Only non-toxic shot can be used to hunt ducks anywhere in Victoria. Lead is not permitted.

Hunters are reminded to review our education material to ensure accurate identification of waterfowl, humane dispatch methods and responsible hunting techniques.

Please monitor the GMA website before and during the season to see if wetlands have been closed to hunting or hunting has been further regulated.

Hunters are reminded to hunt responsibly at all times.

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Blue-winged Shoveler (Spatula rhynchotis) cannot be hunted during the 2024 duck season. In 2021, the species was listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. The information below will remind you of the key distinguishing features to look out for in the Blue-winged Shoveler.

Importantly, if you are NOT SURE, DON’T SHOOT. The penalties for illegally shooting protected species include a substantial fine, imprisonment or both.

Appearance

The Blue-winged Shoveler is a distinctive species with a slender build and broad, blue-grey bill. Male and female Shovelers have different plumage, with the male being more colourful than the female.

When in breeding condition, the male has a shiny blue-green head, white face crescent in front of a yellow eye, black back, blue patch on the upperwing, a distinct white patch on the rump and deep chestnut-coloured flanks and belly. Outside the breeding season, this colouring fades and becomes dull. The male also has bright yellow/orange legs and is the only native duck to do so.

The female Shoveler lacks the bright colouring of the male and is predominantly brown with a fawn-coloured belly. Females also have the blue patch on the upperwing. They also have yellow/orange legs which may be more drab in colour than the males. Immature birds resemble females.

In flight

The Blue-winged Shoveler flies quickly, erratically and often in tight formation when flying in a flock.

It has very quick wing beats with a distinctive whirring sound. In good light, the upper wing patch is obvious in both males and females and is fringed with white. Beneath the wing, the front feathers are white and clearly contrast with its darker rear feathers and belly.

The Blue-winged Shoveler has a distinct profile with a relatively short tail and long bill and head, which gives it a front heavy appearance. At relatively close range, you can clearly see the distinctive wedge-shaped bill of the Shoveler.

On the water

On the water, the Blue-winged Shoveler is a medium-sized duck which floats low. The large shovel-shaped bill, which gives the bird its name, finishes flush with the top of its head making it wedge-shaped in appearance. The male also has a white patch on its rump.

Habitat and distribution

The Blue-winged Shoveler is an uncommon duck which is distributed throughout south-eastern and south-western Australia.

Shovelers prefer permanent, well-vegetated freshwater or saline wetlands with areas of open water and are usually found in inland cumbungi swamps and coastal tea-tree swamps.

Blue-winged Shovelers are seldom heard but do have a soft chatter when flying.

To see high definition video footage of the Blue-winged Shoveler and other waterfowl species, visit the GMA website and go to the Education section to find the DuckWISE education videos (www.gma.vic.gov.au/education/duck-hunting-education/duck-wise-education-video)

Tips for identifying Blue-winged Shoveler

  • Quick and erratic flight
  • Large shovel-shaped bill
  • Blue patch on upper wing
  • White underwing
  • Yellow/orange legs
  • Male has a yellow eye
  • Found in well vegetated freshwater or saline swamp.

Hardhead (Aythya australis) cannot be hunted during the 2024 duck season. In 2021, the species was listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. The information below will remind you of the key distinguishing features to look out for in the Hardhead.

Importantly, if you are NOT SURE, DON’T SHOOT. The penalties for illegally shooting protected species include a substantial fine, imprisonment or both.

Appearance

The Hardhead is a medium-sized, dark brown bird with white feathers under the tail and a white band across the belly. Males are unmistakable in appearance and have a deep brown body and chocolate brown head, a bright white eye and white undertail. The bill is black with a wide pale blue strap across the tip.

Females are similar in appearance, however their plumage is more subdued, and the eye is dark.

In flight

The Hardhead is the only Australian duck with a solid, broad and conspicuous white band across its entire upper wing. Even at distance, the impression is of a large, dark duck with long white wing bands, making the species unmistakable and one of the easiest ducks to identify while in flight, even in poor light.

The Hardhead is swift in flight with rapid, short wing beats. They fly strong and fast with relatively long, slender wings set well back on the body. The underwing is translucent white and the upperwing has a white strip on the trailing edge, and a large white band across the belly.

Their trademark white band on belly and pure white underwings are obvious in flight and important features to look for.

On the water

The Hardhead is a medium-sized dark-coloured duck, floating low in the water, often with the white undertail held flat against the surface. Even from a distance, Hardhead have a distinct profile that is different to all other Australian ducks. Its slim shape makes their triangular head look disproportionately large. They will often take off steeply, uttering a hoarse rasping quack.

Habitat and distribution

The Hardhead is widely distributed throughout Australia. It is a diving duck and the species is usually found in deeper, permanent freshwater swamps and lagoons of the Murray-Darling Basin and south-east South Australia, and occasionally in sheltered estuaries. Hardhead are also common in south-west Western Australia.

They are rarely seen on land and tend to roost on low branches and stumps near the water, and will often congregate in flocks near the middle of waterbodies.

To see high definition video footage of the Hardhead and other waterfowl species, visit the GMA website and go to the Education section to find the DuckWISE education videos (www.gma.vic.gov.au/education/duck-hunting-education/duck-wise-education-video).

Tips for identifying Hardhead

  • Dark upper body with pale underwing and belly
  • Male has a white eye
  • Swift in flight; rapid and short wing beats
  • White wing band on upper wing
  • Wings set back on the body
  • Found in permanent freshwater swamps and lagoons of the Murray-Darling Basin