Magpie geese and waterfowl hunting rules

Once you receive a waterfowl hunting permit, there are conditions you must follow while hunting in the Northern Territory (NT).

If you don't follow the rules below, you could be charged with a hunting offence.

You can read about the magpie goose management program on the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security website.

You must only hunt for magpie geese or waterfowl during the official hunting season in the NT.

Opening and closing dates and bag limits for the hunting season may change from year to year.

Find out the season dates, bag limits and species.

You can hunt on public and private land.

You must have permission from the landholder or occupier to enter and hunt on private property, Crown land, pastoral land or Aboriginal land.

You can only hunt in the following parks and reserves:

You can download the hunting reserves map PDF (3.4 MB) which shows all areas where you can hunt for magpie geese and waterfowl.

You can't hunt in any other parks, reserves, wilderness areas and sanctuaries, or specific areas named in the Firearms Act 1997.

You must also not discharge a firearm across any boundary of a reserve.

You must only use shotguns and bows when hunting for magpie geese or waterfowl.

You can use any category A firearm that is a shotgun or a Category B firearm only if it's a lever action shotgun with a magazine capacity of five rounds or less.

The shotgun must be between 10 gauge and 20 gauge. Read the Firearms Act 1997.

You must not use:

  • rifles or pistols
  • a pump action or self-loading shotgun.

Shot types

You must follow all of these rules about the types of shots to use:

  • you must use non-toxic shot for all waterfowl hunting during the declared season
  • for magpie geese, you can use between number four shot and BBB when using any non-toxic shot other than steel shot and between number two shot and BBB when using steel shot
  • for duck species, you can use number 6 shot through to number 1 when using any non-toxic shot other than steel shot and between number 6 shot and BB when using steel shot.

These sizes of shot ensure birds are killed outright.

It's illegal to use lead shot for all waterfowl hunting in the NT.

Hunting bows

You can use a hunting bow including a recurve bow, reflex bow, long bow or compound bow.

Cross-bows are not allowed.

You may use up to three dogs to retrieve shot birds but not to chase or harass birds.

Any game that is not dead when recovered must be killed immediately.

A well-trained dog will make sure you retrieve your shot birds and reduce loss of shot birds.

You must control your dog and not retrieve other hunters' game or interfere with native animals.

Decoys may be used during hunting.


You should follow all of these rules while hunting:

  • abide by all permit conditions
  • approach the shooting area with caution and consideration for others
  • avoid unnecessary noise, lights and movement
  • be at least 100m away from others
  • be aware of the location of other hunters and do not shoot in their direction
  • don't approach another hunter's location
  • don't shoot beyond your personal ability - 30m or less is an effective range for most hunters
  • don't fire at birds on water as it risks injury to other shooters.

Ethical hunting

You should aim to instantly kill each bird fired upon, so that it does not suffer.

No animal should suffer unnecessarily as a result of sports shooting.

You should follow all of these rules while hunting:

  • clearly identify your target as an approved species for hunting
  • select a single bird as a target
  • do not indiscriminately fire into a flock of birds - you could wound or cripple birds and endanger a protected species
  • make sure you select the correct load and choke for your intended game bird.

You must not leave the edible portion of waterfowl carcass behind when hunting.

You must take at least the meat of the breast and the meat of the thigh above the distal joint of the femur (knee).

How to dispose carcasses

You must properly dispose of carcasses by spreading them out and hiding them under trees and shrubs.

When you are disposing carcasses, you must leave at least 5m between each carcass.

You must also dispose of a carcass at least 5m away from any track or thoroughfare.

After each hunting season you should complete a waterfowl permit return.

This is a record of the birds you have taken.

You can complete permit returns online using the NT Hunting Mate app.

Or you can submit a form to the Parks and Wildlife permits and concessions office.

Get the permit return form:

Waterfowl permit return form PDF (464.5 KB)
Waterfowl permit return form DOCX (55.9 KB).

You're not allowed to sell, barter, dispose of or exchange any duck or goose carcass under a hunting permit.

Waterfowl can't be taken or kept for taxidermy purposes under a hunting permit. Taxidermy is where the dead bird is preserved or stuffed.

You need a take or interfere with wildlife permit to take wildlife for taxidermy.

Last updated: 04 October 2021

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