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Game Bird Hunting

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Ruffed Grouse are the most widely available upland game in Vermont. Good numbers of “partridge” can be found wherever brushy forest stands provide nesting cover, protection from predators, and food in the form of berries and buds. Overgrown apple orchards, abandoned hillside farms, and regenerating clear cuts covered with hardwood thickets are all grouse hot spots. Although grouse are found statewide, the Northeast Kingdom offers some of the best grouse hunting.


The following are classified as game birds: quail, ruffed grouse, chukar partridge, woodcock, pheasant, common snipe, coot, wild ducks, wild geese, and wild turkey (which is classified as big game). Other wild birds including spruce grouse and Hungarian partridge have no open season.

Seasons & Bag Limits


Ruffed Grouse

Last Sat. in Sept.
through Dec. 31

4 daily;
8 possession


Pheasant *

Last Sat. in Sept.
through Dec. 31

2 daily;
4 possession


Bobwhite Quail *

No Closed Season.

No limit


Chukar Partridge *

No Closed Season.

No limit



March 14 – April 30,
Aug. 16 – Oct. 29

No limit

* Practically nonexistent except by private stocking.

Migratory Bird Regulations

The Fish & Wildlife Department issues waterfowl and other migratory game bird regulations through license agents shortly before the opening of the seasons. These regulations are set by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

State & Federal Waterfowl Stamps

Both Vermont and federal waterfowl stamps are required to hunt migratory waterfowl for hunters 16 and older. Federal stamps are sold at post offices. Vermont State Waterfowl Stamps are available from Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department offices statewide and license agents for $7.50. A state waterfowl stamp is good for the calendar year and no longer needs to be signed by the hunter.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend

A youth waterfowl hunting weekend for residents and nonresidents is usually held in late September for hunters 15 and under. Check the migratory bird hunting rules, available in September, for details.

Duck Blinds

Waterfowl blinds may not be placed on or in the waters of the state earlier than the first Saturday of September of any year. Anyone who places a blind must have their name and address permanently and legibly affixed on the blind by waterproof paint or rustproof tag.

Waterfowl blinds located on or in any waters of the state except Lake Champlain must be removed, together with contents and any surrounding debris, on or before May 15 of the following year. A waterfowl blind located on or in Lake Champlain must be removed on or before February 15 of the following year. Also see Tree Stands and Ground Blinds sections.

Nontoxic Shot

It is illegal to take waterfowl or coots in Vermont while possessing loose shot or shot shells loaded with shot other than nontoxic shot. Shot should be of a size no larger than size T.

It is illegal to take a group or combination of waterfowl/coots and other species in Vermont while possessing loose shot or shot shells loaded with any shot other than nontoxic shot.

Woodcock & Common Snipe

Woodcock are found statewide. “Timberdoodles” feed primarily on worms, and they favor areas with moist, rich soils covered with dense stands of woody shrubs and sapling-stage hardwoods. Alder swales, regenerating clear cuts and abandoned pastures covered with thickets of dogwood, sumac, birch and aspen are all likely woodcock covers. Locally hatched native birds provide hunting early in the season, but the best shooting is in mid to late October, when large numbers of flight birds are pushed out of Canada by cold weather. The best hunting is generally in the Champlain Valley and Northeast Kingdom.

Season: Set annually.

Woodcock and common snipe are migratory game birds. Migratory game birds, including waterfowl, may be taken only by shotgun with one-piece plug or manufactured to restrict it to three-shot capacity. State and Federal duck stamps are not required for woodcock or snipe hunting.



For a mountainous state, Vermont offers surprisingly good hunting for a variety of waterfowl. To maximize hunting opportunities, Vermont is divided into three waterfowl zones: the Lake Champlain Zone, which includes Lake Champlain and the adjoining Champlain Valley lowlands, the Interior Zone, and the Connecticut River Zone.

* Seasons are set in late August in accordance with migratory bird hunting frameworks established by the federal government.

During the October portion of duck season, most hunting is for “puddle ducks” on shallow-water marshes, beaver flows, ponds, and rivers. The most common species are mallards, wood ducks, black ducks and greenwing teal. As the season progresses and marshes begin to freeze in November, open-waterhunting for migrating “diving ducks” on Vermont’s larger lakes swings into full gear. Goldeneyes, lesser scaup, ring-necks, and buffleheads are the most common diving ducks. Excellent hunting for goldeneyes and late-migrating mallards and blacks can often be had from mid-November though the close of the season in December.

Canada geese and snow geese are found in areas with farm fields that provide waste grains and green grasses as food. Snow goose seasons are liberal, reflecting the record number of greater snow geese in the Atlantic Flyway. A September Canada goose hunting season offers an opportunity to hunt resident Canada geese that have increased in numbers in recent years. An October season for Canada geese is open when additional geese are migrating through the state.

The best waterfowl hunting opportunities are in the Champlain Valley, where numerous public wetlands provide excellent hunting for ducks and geese. Elsewhere, good waterfowl hunting can also be had in the Northeast Kingdom on and along Lake Memphremagog and its tributary rivers.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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