Migratory Game Bird Seasons
North Carolina Hunting & Fishing
Migratory Birds Protected
Federal laws protecting migratory birds (songbirds, woodpeckers, raptors or waterfowl) take precedence over state laws. Before any migratory birds may be taken or killed during the closed season, a federal permit must be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Substantial penalties for violations apply. Call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Permits Section in Atlanta, Ga. at 404-679-7070 for information.During the May 1–Aug.31 time period, depredation permits issued directly from the Wildlife Resources Commission are available when Canada geese are depredating in commercial agriculture situations. Contact the Commission at 919-707-0050 for more information. Federal seasons and bag limits on migratory game birds are adopted as state regulations.
Colonial Water Bird Nesting Areas
Coastal islands and beach areas posted as “Colonial Water Bird Nesting” areas are being managed for our nesting populations of pelicans, terns, gulls, herons and egrets. Special regulations apply. Access is prohibited on these areas from Apage 7e allowed as authorized by the landowner.
Migratory Game Birds – Hunting Stamps and Privileges
Harvest Information Program (HIP)
All licensed hunters hunting migratory game birds (doves, rails, gallinules, moorhens, woodcock, snipe or waterfowl) in North Carolina are required to have certification of participation in the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP). Certification can be obtained free of charge by going online at ncwildlife.org, calling 888-248-6834, or visiting a wildlife service agent.
Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp)
The law requires that each waterfowl hunter 16 years of age and older, must carry on his person a valid Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or federal duck stamp, signed in ink across the face. (Hunters under age 16 may voluntarily purchase a duck stamp and help preserve wetlands for waterfowl.) Refer to License information for more information.
North Carolina Waterfowl Privilege
Each waterfowl hunter 16 years of age and older must carry on his person a license having the North Carolina Waterfowl Privilege. The North Carolina Waterfowl Privilege is required in addition to the federal duck stamp. Refer to the “License Types” section of this digest for information on which licenses include this privilege license.
North Carolina Duck Stamp
Hunters are no longer required to carry the North Carolina duck stamp while hunting for waterfowl; however, the current year’s duck stamp will be available for collecting purposes; call 888-248-6834 for more information.
Please report all bird bands online at reportband.gov
Be aware that the toll-free phone number that had previously been available to report bird bands is being discontinued. People calling this toll-free number will be directed to report their bird bands using the REPORTBAND website or by mail.
Migratory Game Birds – Seasons
Unless otherwise specified, shooting hours for all migratory game birds including waterfowl are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset
Possession Limits for all migratory game birds including waterfowl are 3 times the daily limit unless otherwise specified.
Nontoxic Shot Requirements
In North Carolina, no person shall take waterfowl while possessing shells loaded with any shot other than steel or other approved nontoxic materials. On posted waterfowl impoundments on game lands, it is unlawful to hunt with or have in possession any shotgun shell containing lead or toxic shot while hunting; except shotgun shells containing lead buckshot may be used while deer hunting. Nontoxic shot is required for the taking of captive-reared mallards on shooting preserves, in field trials and during bona fide dog-training activities.
Migratory Game Bird Seasons
Dove (includes Mourning Dove and White-winged Dove)
|Sep. 1 – Oct. 6, Nov. 17 – Dec. 1 & Dec. 10 – Jan. 31||Daily limit 15; either singly or in the aggregate for mourning doves and white-winged doves|
Rails (includes King, Clapper and Virginia Rails and Sora)
|Sep. 1 – Oct. 13 & Oct. 22 – Nov. 28||Daily Limit 15 King or Clapper Rails either singly or in the aggregate |
Daily Limit 25 Virginia Rails or Sora either singly or in the aggregate
Gallinule and Moorhen
|Sep. 1 – Oct. 13 & Oct. 22 – Nov. 28||Daily Limit 15 Gallinules and Moorhens either singly or in the aggregate|
|Dec. 8 – Jan. 29||Daily Limit 3|
|Oct. 27 – Feb. 28||Daily Limit 8|
September Teal Season (includes Green-winged teal, Blue-winged teal and Cinnamon teal)
|Sep. 12 – Sep. 29||Daily Limit 6 |
The September Teal Season is open only in that area east of U.S. Highway 17.
|Oct. 3 – 6, Nov. 10 – Dec. 1 & Dec. 15 – Jan. 26||Daily limit 6 with the following restrictions: no more than 4 mallards (2 hen mallards), 4 scoters, 4 eiders, 4 long-tailed ducks, 3 wood ducks, 2 black ducks, 2 scaup, 2 redheads, 2 canvasbacks, 2 pintails, 1 mottled duck, and 1 fulvous whistling duck. The season on harlequin ducks is closed. |
The season on black and mottled ducks is closed until Nov. 17.
|Season dates same as ducks||Daily limit 15 coots|
|Season dates same as ducks||Daily limit 5 mergansers with no more than 2 hooded mergansers|
Sea Ducks (in special sea duck area only)
|Nov. 19 – Jan. 26||Daily limit 5 with no more than 4 scoters, 4 long-tailed ducks and 4 eiders|
General Duck Season Open
Special Sea Duck Season Closed
|Oct. 3 – Oct. 6 & Nov. 10 – Nov. 17||Sea ducks cannot be taken in the special sea duck area, but can be taken everywhere else. The general bag limit of six ducks with no more than four scoters, four long-tailed ducks and four eiders applies. Although sea ducks may not be taken in the special sea duck area during this time, other ducks may be taken in this area.|
General Duck Season Closed
Special Sea Duck Season Open
|Dec. 3 – Dec. 14||Sea ducks can be taken only in the special sea duck area, and cannot be taken in other locations. The special sea duck bag limit applies and consists of five sea ducks with no more than four scoters, four long-tailed ducks and four eiders.|
General Duck Season Open
Special Sea Duck Season Open
|Nov. 19 – Dec. 1 & Dec. 15 – Jan. 26||Sea ducks can be taken anywhere. Hunters should remember that the special sea duck limit applies when hunting in the special sea duck area and the general bag limit applies when hunting in all other areas. When both seasons overlap, the special sea duck bag limit may be in addition to the limits applying to other ducks.|
September Canada Goose Season
|Sep. 1 – Sep. 29||Daily bag 15|
|In that area west of U.S. Highway 17 only, expanded hunting methods are allowed for Canada geese. These include: shooting hours are extended to ½ hour after sunset, unplugged guns are allowed, electronic calls are permitted. This applies to this area only during the month of September.|
Canada Geese (also includes White-Fronted Geese)
|See Goose Zones Map|
Resident Population Zone
|Oct. 3 – Oct. 13 Nov. 10 – Dec. 1 & Dec. 15 – Feb. 9||Daily bag 5 Canada geese or white-fronted geese either singly or in the aggregate.|
Northeast Hunt Zone (by permit only)
|Jan. 11 – Jan. 26||Daily bag 1 Canada goose or white-fronted goose|
|Refer to ncwildlife.org/PermitHunt or call 888-248-6834 for application information and requirements.|
Tundra Swan (by permit only)
|Nov. 10 – Jan. 31||Bag limit 1 per season with special permit|
|A limited number of permits will be issued to hunt tundra swans. Permits will be issued by a random drawing authorizing each permit holder to harvest one tundra swan. The following regulations apply. |
Every hunter receiving a swan permit will also receive a questionnaire. If the hunter does not return that completed questionnaire to the Wildlife Resources Commission by April 1, that hunter will be ineligible for a tundra swan permit the following season.
Refer to ncwildlife.org/PermitHunt or call 888-248-6834 for application information and requirements.
Light Geese (includes Snow geese, Blue geese and Ross’s geese)
|Oct. 9 – Feb. 9||Daily bag 25; no possession limit|
Conservation Order Season (by permit only)
|Feb. 11 – March 30||Daily bag none; no possession limit|
|Dec. 15 – Jan. 26||Daily bag 1|
Youth Waterfowl Day(s)
|Feb. 2 & Feb. 9||Same bag limits as during the regular waterfowl season(s)|
|Waterfowl hunting outside the regular season is allowed on the day(s) officially designated as “Youth Waterfowl Day.” Legal species include ducks, geese, brant, tundra swans, mergansers and coots. The youth must have a valid permit to hunt tundra swans and Canada geese (NE Hunt Zone only). |
Youth under the age of 18 may participate in accordance with the guidelines listed below:
Extended Falconry Seasons
Dove (includes Mourning Dove and White-Winged Dove) (Extended Falconry Season)
|Oct. 13 – Oct. 27||Daily bag 3|
King, Clapper and Virginia Rail, Sora, Gallinule and Moorhen (extended falconry season)
|Dec. 1 – Jan. 5||Daily bag 3|
Woodcock (extended falconry season)
|Nov. 3 – Dec. 1 & Feb. 1 – Feb. 28||Daily bag 3|
Ducks, Mergansers and Coots (extended falconry seasons)
|Oct. 23 – Nov. 3 & Jan. 28 – Feb. 16||Daily bag 3|
|Aug. 1, 2018 – Feb. 28, 2019 – Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of each week.||No restrictions|
|June 5, 2019 – July 31, 2019 – Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of each week.|
|Crows may also be hunted on Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Independence Day; except when these days fall on a Sunday|