What to expect during Utah’s waterfowl hunts

Waterfowl season is nearly here, and if you’re like us, you can’t wait to get back into the marsh! Whether you’ll be hunting ducks, geese or swans — or all of the above — you’ll have more success if you follow these three steps:

Step #1: Double-check your dates

Don’t miss any of the waterfowl hunts this year. Here are key dates to keep in mind:

The youth waterfowl hunts will be held in the northern zone on Sept. 19 and in the southern zone on Oct. 3.
The general waterfowl opener in the northern zone is Oct. 3, and in the southern zone, it’s Oct. 17.
For all season dates, bag limits and boundary information, see pages 30-31 of the 2020-21 Utah Waterfowl Guidebook

Step #2: Take time to prepare

Putting in some time to plan and prepare will pay off during your hunt. Make sure you’re completely ready:

See the 2020-21 waterfowl season preview (posted Sept. 10)
Get your free HIP number online
Make sure you have a valid hunting license
Remember that you must have a federal duck stamp if you’re age 16 or older (see pages 9-10 in the guidebook)
If you drew a swan permit, carry it with you during the hunt and double check the hunt boundary (also read the swan identification article on pages 32-33 of the guidebook)
Participate in the Utah Waterfowl Slam to help waterfowl and challenge yourself

Step #3: Be aware of conditions

Before you pick a spot for the hunt opener, be sure to read about current conditions at the WMAs:

Check out the latest hunt opener conditions for most Utah wetlands (updated Sept. 10)
Join the Utah Waterfowl Management Areas Facebook Group to stay up to date on WMA conditions and projects and to communicate directly with WMA managers
Keep in mind that the Great Salt Lake is currently quite low, and boat access will be difficult in some areas, particularly on the Willard Spur WMA. Most mud motorboats will not be able to access the spur, and airboat access will also be very limited.
Be aware that a recent channel dredging and island restoration project at the Salt Creek WMA is nearly done, but the area will have little to no water during the youth waterfowl hunt on Sept. 19 and when the general season opens on Oct. 3.