Vermont Game Bird Hunting: Seasons, Bag Limits, and Species Overview

Ruffed Grouse (Partridge)

  • Season: September 28 – December 31, 2024
  • Daily Limit: 4
  • Possession Limit: 8
  • Habitat and Distribution: Widely available throughout Vermont, especially in areas with brushy forest stands, overgrown apple orchards, abandoned hillside farms, and regenerating clear cuts with hardwood thickets. The Northeast Kingdom is noted for excellent grouse hunting.


  • Season: September 28 – December 31, 2024
  • Daily Limit: 2
  • Possession Limit: 4
  • Note: Pheasant populations in Vermont are largely sustained by private stocking. Hunters are required to obtain a permit from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department for raising and stocking pheasants.

Bobwhite Quail

  • Season: No Closed Season
  • Limit: No limit
  • Note: Bobwhite quail populations in Vermont are practically nonexistent except through private stocking. A permit for raising and stocking is mandatory.

Chukar Partridge

  • Season: No Closed Season
  • Limit: No limit
  • Note: Similar to bobwhite quail, chukar partridge in Vermont are primarily available through private stocking, and a permit is required for raising and releasing these birds.


  • Season: January 15 – April 8 & August 19 – December 16, 2024 (Friday to Monday only)
  • Limit: No limit

Vermont Game Bird Hunting: Definitions, Migratory Regulations, and Waterfowl Hunting Essentials

Game Bird Classifications in Vermont

  • Classified as Game Birds: Quail, ruffed grouse, chukar partridge, woodcock, pheasant, common snipe, coot, wild ducks, wild geese, and wild turkey (noted as big game).
  • Birds with No Open Season: Spruce grouse and Hungarian partridge.

Migratory Game Bird Regulations

  • Regulation Source: The Syllabus of State and Federal Hunting Regulations for Migratory Birds is accessible on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website and from license agents.

Waterfowl Hunting Requirements

Hunters aged 16 and older targeting migratory waterfowl in Vermont must have specific licenses and stamps:

  1. Vermont Hunting License: A valid license is a fundamental requirement for any form of hunting.
  2. Federal Duck Stamp:
  3. Vermont State Duck Stamp:
    • Cost: $7.50.
    • Availability: Accessible on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website, department offices, and license agents.
    • Validity: Good for the calendar year without the need for the hunter's signature.
  4. H.I.P. Number:

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend in Vermont


Vermont hosts a special Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend annually, primarily designed for young hunters aged 17 and under. This event, open to both residents and nonresidents, provides an opportunity for youth to engage in waterfowl hunting under guided and regulated conditions.


The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend typically takes place in late September. However, the exact dates may vary each year.

Requirements and Regulations

  • Age Limit: The event is exclusively for hunters aged 17 and under.
  • Residency: Open to both residents and nonresidents of Vermont.
  • Regulation Reference: Participants and their guardians are advised to refer to the migratory bird hunting rules syllabus for detailed regulations and guidelines. This syllabus can be accessed on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website or obtained from license agents.


Participants in the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend should ensure they are prepared with the necessary equipment, licenses, and an understanding of waterfowl hunting ethics and safety practices. It is also recommended that young hunters be accompanied by experienced adults to provide guidance and supervision.

Vermont Waterfowl Blinds Regulations

Placement and Identification

  • Placement Timing: Waterfowl blinds may not be placed in or on the waters of the state before the first Saturday of September each year.
  • Owner Identification: The individual who sets up a waterfowl blind must permanently and legibly affix their name and address to the blind. This can be done using waterproof paint or a rustproof tag.

Removal Deadlines

  • Blinds in State Waters (excluding Lake Champlain): These blinds, along with any contents and surrounding debris, must be removed on or before May 15 of the following year.
  • Blinds in Lake Champlain: Blinds situated in Lake Champlain must be removed on or before February 15 of the following year.

Sign Placement

  • No Legal Basis: It's important to note that placing signs to claim duck blind locations is not supported by law and is unenforceable.

Prohibited Use of Invasive Plants

  • Restriction: The use of Phragmites or other invasive plants in duck blinds is prohibited. However, this prohibition does not extend to non-invasive plants used for camouflage purposes, such as corn stalks or cedar.

Use of Nontoxic Shot in Vermont Waterfowl Hunting

Regulation Overview

In Vermont, hunters must comply with specific regulations regarding the use of shot when hunting waterfowl and coots in combination with other species. The following regulations apply:

Nontoxic Shot Requirement

  • Mandatory Use: 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.
  • Shot Size Limit: Nontoxic shot used in waterfowl hunting should be of a size no larger than size T.

Woodcock & Common Snipe Hunting in Vermont

Woodcock Habitat and Behavior

  • Distribution: Woodcock, often referred to as "Timberdoodles," can be found throughout Vermont, as they are statewide residents.
  • Diet: These birds primarily feed on worms.
  • Preferred Habitat: Woodcock are commonly found in areas with moist, nutrient-rich soils that are covered with dense stands of woody shrubs and sapling-stage hardwoods.
  • Habitat Examples: Suitable woodcock habitats include alder swales, regenerating clear cuts, and abandoned pastures filled with thickets of dogwood, sumac, birch, and aspen.

Hunting Seasons

  • Season Dates: Woodcock hunting seasons are set annually, and hunters should consult the annual Waterfowl Syllabus for specific dates.

Common Snipe

  • Similar Regulations: Common snipe are also migratory game birds and share hunting regulations with woodcock.
  • Shotgun Restriction: Both woodcock and common snipe may only be taken by shotgun equipped with a one-piece plug or manufactured to restrict it to a three-shot capacity.
  • Stamp Requirements: Unlike waterfowl hunting, hunters pursuing woodcock and common snipe do not need state and federal duck stamps.
  • H.I.P. Number: To hunt woodcock and common snipe, hunters must have a H.I.P. (Harvest Information Program) number.

Best Hunting Period

  • Peak Season: While locally hatched native birds provide hunting early in the season, the best woodcock shooting typically occurs in mid to late October. During this period, large numbers of migratory woodcock are pushed out of Canada due to cold weather.
  • Prime Locations: The Champlain Valley and Northeast Kingdom are known for offering some of the best woodcock hunting opportunities.

Waterfowl Hunting in Vermont

Three Waterfowl Zones

  • Diverse Opportunities: Despite its mountainous terrain, Vermont offers excellent hunting opportunities for various waterfowl species.
  • Zone Division: To maximize hunting possibilities, Vermont is divided into three distinct waterfowl zones:
    1. Lake Champlain Zone: Encompassing Lake Champlain and the adjacent Champlain Valley lowlands.
    2. Interior Zone: Covering specific inland areas.
    3. Connecticut River Zone: Incorporating regions along the Connecticut River.

Seasonal Frameworks

  • Federal Oversight: Waterfowl hunting seasons in Vermont are set in accordance with migratory bird hunting frameworks established by the federal government.

October Duck Season

  • Puddle Ducks: During the October portion of duck season, hunters primarily target "puddle ducks" in various wetland habitats. These include shallow-water marshes, beaver flows, ponds, and rivers.
  • Common Species: The most frequently encountered duck species during this period include mallards, wood ducks, black ducks, and greenwing teal.

November Diving Ducks

  • Changing Conditions: As the season progresses into November and marshes begin to freeze, hunting shifts towards open water, focusing on migrating "diving ducks" found on Vermont's larger lakes.
  • Diverse Diving Ducks: Diving duck species commonly pursued include goldeneyes, lesser scaup, ringnecks, and buffleheads.

Late-Season Opportunities

  • Goldeneyes and More: Excellent late-season hunting opportunities are available for goldeneyes, as well as late-migrating mallards and black ducks. These opportunities extend from mid-November to the close of the season in December.

Canada Geese and Snow Geese

  • Feeding Areas: Canada geese and snow geese are typically found in areas with farm fields that provide them with waste grains and green grasses as food sources.
  • Seasons: Snow goose seasons are liberal due to the increased population of greater snow geese in the Atlantic Flyway. Additionally, there is a September Canada goose hunting season targeting resident Canada geese. Another October season for Canada geese is open when additional geese are migrating through the state.

Prime Hunting Locations

  • Champlain Valley: The Champlain Valley is renowned for offering some of the best waterfowl hunting opportunities in Vermont. Numerous public wetlands in this region provide excellent hunting for both ducks and geese.
  • Northeast Kingdom: In the Northeast Kingdom, Lake Memphremagog and its tributary rivers are known for good waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.) for Migratory Game Birds

Compliance and Registration

  • Federal Requirement: Hunters pursuing migratory game birds, such as ducks, geese, brant, coots, snipe, and woodcock, are obligated by federal law to annually register with the Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.).
  • Essential Step: Registering with H.I.P. is a crucial step for hunters targeting these migratory game birds in Vermont.

How to Register with H.I.P.

  • Online Registration: Hunters can conveniently register for H.I.P. online by visiting
  • Phone Registration: Alternatively, hunters can call Toll-Free 1-877-306-7091 during the following hours: Monday to Friday, 7:45 am to 4:30 pm EST.

Obtain Your H.I.P. Permit Number

  • Identification Requirement: Upon successful registration, hunters will receive a unique H.I.P. permit number.
  • Record on License: It is essential to write the obtained H.I.P. number on your hunting license to ensure compliance.

Additional Requirements

  • Waterfowl Stamps: In addition to the H.I.P. registration, both Vermont and federal migratory waterfowl stamps are also mandatory for hunters targeting ducks or geese.

The Role of H.I.P.

  • Data Collection: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) utilizes H.I.P. to gather crucial data about migratory game bird hunting.
  • Survey Cards: A sample of hunters may be asked to record daily hunt information on survey cards provided by USFWS.
  • Data Accuracy: This survey process enables the USFWS to more accurately determine the status of migratory game birds.
  • Conservation Impact: Inadequate harvest information has been used in some states to legally challenge hunting seasons. Accurate data collection through H.I.P. helps support sustainable hunting practices and conservation efforts.

A Message of Thanks

  • Support from Hunters: Cooperation and support from hunters are instrumental in sound wildlife management and conservation.
  • Ensuring the Future: The Harvest Information Program for Migratory Game Birds plays a vital role in ensuring the future of migratory bird hunting.
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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.