Duck Harvests Have Declined Significantly

From 1976 to 1980 Maine waterfowl hunters bagged to more than 83,000 ducks. By 1989 that number had fallen to less than 46,000, a 45% reduction. During that same time we saw a 40% decline in duck stamp sales.

A lot of people at that time blamed the decrease on loss of habitat and hunting space. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report at that time estimated that Maine lost more than 1.2 million acres of historical wetlands. A lot of those acres were lost to development.

Recently Brad Allen at DIFW provided me with numbers for the 2017 season. A total of 40,900 ducks were taken: 32,200 dabblers and divers and 8700 sea ducks. Maine hunters also shot 15,200 Canada geese.

Only 9800 hunted ducks and geese in Maine in 2017, a very small number.

I used to love duck hunting with my Chesapeake Bay Retiever Blake, along Hopkins Stream which flows by my house. I also have very fond memories of duck hunting with my dad when I was very young. I can still see that first black duck I ever shot, flying by us on the little stream that flowed into Annabessacook Lake. Dad said shoot, and I did, and that duck plunged into the stream. Yes, I was thrilled!

Blake was a great retriever but my favorite story was one time he really fouled up. I shot a duck that fell into the middle of the stream. Blake jumped in and swam out to recover it but he took the duck to the other side of the stream and ate it!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.