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Small Game Hunting

Small Game Hunting

Federal Migratory Birds Regulations

The following Federal regulations apply to the taking, possession, shipping, transporting and storing of migratory game birds. Consult the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50, Part 20 for additional information. Migratory game birds are: ducks (including mergansers), geese, swans, coot, gallinules, snipe, dove, (both white-winged and mourning) and band-tailed pigeon.

Sec. 20.21 Hunting Methods

Migratory birds on which open seasons are prescribed in this part may be taken by any method except those prohibited in this section. No persons shall take migratory game birds:

  1. With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fish hook, poison, drug, explosive, or stupefying substance;
  2. With a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. However, this restriction does not apply during:
    1. A light-goose-only season (greater and lesser snow geese and Ross’ geese) when all other waterfowl and crane hunting seasons, excluding falconry, are closed.
  3. From or by means, aid, or use of a sinkbox or any other type of low floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water;
  4. From or by means, aid, or use of any motor vehicle, motor-driven land conveyance, or aircraft of any kind, except that paraplegics and persons missing one or both legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor-driven land conveyance;
  5. From or by means of any motorboat or other craft having a motor attached, or any sailboat, unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or the sails furled, and its progress therefrom has ceased: Provided, That a craft under power may be used to retrieve dead or crippled birds; however, crippled birds may not be shot from such craft under power except in the seaduck area as permitted in subpart K of this part;
  6. By the use or aid of live birds as decoys; although not limited to, it shall be a violation of this paragraph for any person to take migratory waterfowl on an area where tame or captive live ducks or geese are present unless such birds are and have been for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to such taking, confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such birds from the sight of wild migratory waterfowl;
  7. By the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds. However, this restriction does not apply during:
    1. A light-goose-only season (greater and lesser snow geese and Ross’ geese) when all other waterfowl and crane hunting seasons, excluding falconry, are closed.
  8. By means or aid of any motordriven land, water, or air conveyance, or any sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of any migratory bird;
  9. By the aid of baiting, on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. However, nothing in this paragraph prohibits:
    1. The taking of any migratory game bird, including waterfowl, coots, and cranes, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas.
      1. Standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics); standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice;
        1. From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation;
        2. From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of grain or other feed; or
        3. Standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds.
    2. The taking of any migratory game bird, except waterfowl, coots and cranes, on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation.
  10. While possessing loose shot for muzzle loading or shotshells containing other than the following approved shot types.

Sec. 20.24 Daily Limit

No person shall take in any 1 calendar day, more than the daily bag.

Sec. 20.25 Wanton Waste of Migratory Game Birds

No person shall kill or cripple any migratory game bird pursuant to this part without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the bird, and retain it in his actual custody.

Sec. 20.33 Possession Limit

No person shall possess more migratory game birds taken in the United States than the possession limit or the aggregate possession limit, whichever applies.

Sec. 20.35 Field Possession Limit

No person shall possess, have in custody, or transport more than the daily bag limit or aggregate daily bag limit, whichever applies, of migratory game birds, tagged or not tagged, at or between the place where taken and either (a) his automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) his personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; or (c) a migratory bird preservation facility; or (d) a post office; or (e) a common carrier facility.

Sec. 20.36 Tagging Requirement

No person shall put or leave any migratory game birds at any place (other than at his personal abode), or in the custody of another person for picking, cleaning, processing, shipping, transportation, or storage (including temporary storage), or for the purpose of having taxidermy services performed, unless such birds have a tag attached, signed by the hunter, stating his address, the total number and species of birds, and the date such birds were killed. Migratory game birds being transported in any vehicle as the personal baggage of the possessor shall not be considered as being in storage or temporary storage.

Sec. 20.37 Custody of Birds of Another

No person shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are tagged as required by Sec. 20.36.

Sec. 20.38 Possession of Live Birds

Every migratory game bird wounded by hunting and reduced to possession by the hunter shall be immediately killed and become a part of the daily bag limit.

Sec. 20.43 Species Identification Requirement

No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons (Columba fasciata), unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility. The head or a fully feathered wing must remain attached while in transit from the field for ducks, mergansers, coots and gallinules, snipe, geese and swan.

Sec. 20.44 Marking Package or Container

No person shall transport by the Postal Service or a common carrier migratory game birds unless the package or container in which such birds are transported has the name and address of the shipper and the consignee and an accurate statement of the numbers of each species of birds therein contained clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof.