Duck hunting methods and laws

In Victoria, 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.

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.

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.

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Duck hunting laws

Recreational duck hunting in Victoria is managed sustainably, with the bag limits and season dates set to ensure that hunting does not threaten the conservation status of game duck species.

Duck seasons arrangements may change from time to time; and hunters should always check current regulations, season dates, and bag limits.

Some game species may be protected from hunting at particular times, such as during drought, or bag limits may be changed in response to population numbers and/or environmental conditions.

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Game ducks can be hunted during the open season. Restrictions on the species and bag limits may be imposed when conditions require. There are eight species of native duck declared to be game. They are:

  • Black Duck
  • Grey Teal
  • Chestnut Teal
  • Hardhead
  • Blue-winged Shoveler
  • Pink-eared Duck
  • Mountain Duck
  • Wood Duck

Duck season begins on the third Saturday of March and ends 30 minutes after sunset on the second Monday of June each year.

The bag limit is ten (10) game ducks per day, including no more than two (2) Blue-winged Shoveler. However, season length or bag limits may change from time to time.

Any day after opening day, duck hunting is permitted from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Sunrise and sunset times vary throughout the state; therefore, during the season, legal hunting times also vary. The following information will help you calculate the legal hunting times in your area.

  • Sunrise and sunset times alter by four minutes for each degree of longitude across the state. Victoria extends from 141° in the west to 150° in the east. Melbourne is near the 145° line.
  • Use the official Melbourne sunrise and sunset times as your starting point to calculate the sunrise and sunset times of your location. If your hunting location is east of 145° (Melbourne), subtract four minutes from the official sunrise and sunset times for each degree of longitude. Anywhere west of the Melbourne line, add four minutes to the official sunrise and sunset times for each degree of longitude.
  • Early hunting on the opening morning is hunting out of season. Heavy penalties apply, which may include losing your Game and Firearm Licences and/or your firearm or other hunting equipment.
  • Penalties also apply for early and late hunting during every other day of the duck season

For the most up to date season arrangements, please see duck season arrangements.

Duck hunters are permitted to use shotguns no greater than 12 gauge.

Hunters must use or have in their possession only non-toxic shot when hunting ducks. This includes duck hunting on all wetlands, waterways, and drylands on public and private land.

Hunters are exempt from using non-toxic shot if they are using a muzzle-loading, Damascus steel, or twist-barrelled shotgun. However, duck hunters may have toxic shot (e.g. lead shot) on a State Game Reserve or any other area where they intend to hunt duck, provided it is secured in a vehicle.

For toxic shot to be secured in a vehicle, the ammunition must be stored in a closed case or container and stowed in the boot or storage area (not in the glove box) of a sedan, dual cab, or wagon. For a single cab or ute, the ammunition must be stored in a closed case or container and stowed in a part of the vehicle not readily accessible by any occupant of the vehicle.

Hunters may use lead shot while hunting Stubble Quail on the 16 State Game Reserves where Stubble Quail hunting is permitted.

The following non-toxic shot types are permitted for duck hunting in Victoria.

  • Bismuth-tin
  • Iron (steel)
  • Iron-tungsten
  • Iron-tungsten-nickel
  • Tungsten-bronze
  • Tungsten-iron-copper-nickel
  • Tungsten-matrix
  • Tungsten-polymer
  • Tungsten-tin-iron
  • Tungsten-tin-bismuth
  • Tungsten-tin-iron-nickel
  • Tungsten-iron-polymer

Refer to Schedule 7 of the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 for further details about the percentage composition by weight for each metal.

As a legal requirement and to ensure ducks can be easily identified, a fully feathered wing must be left on all ducks taken. The feathered wing can be removed only immediately prior to cooking or after hunters have returned home. The practice of breasting ducks is acceptable, providing a fully feathered wing remains attached to the breast after it is removed from the carcass.

High-grading your bag is illegal. This practice involves reaching your bag limit then discarding or giving away ducks in order to take more ducks than the set bag limit. Some may do this when they want to take a more preferred species or when they share their bag with someone else. You are only allowed to take the daily bag limit and no more.

In waterways (e.g. rivers, creeks, and streams), you are allowed to hunt ducks from a boat under power up to a speed of 5 knots. See the below illustration for other things you must consider when hunting on waterways.

In open water (e.g. lakes, dams, or swamps), you are not permitted to hunt ducks from a boat with the motor running whether in gear or not.