How to Catch a Duck

Three Methods:Using Dog FoodCatching a Duck at NightTrapping a Duck

Ducks can be caught to relocate or for study in a humane way. During certain points in a duck’s life cycle, such as after mating, ducks are flightless and much easier to catch. Use food and other attractants like decoys to bring the ducks in close enough to catch. Once captured, the ducks can be banded or relocated to other areas.

Method 1
Using Dog Food

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    Put a small bowl of dog food outside. Fill up a small bowl with wet or dry dog food and place it outside near where the duck typically stays. You can use dry food, or you can wet it a bit with water.[1]
    • If the duck is injured, it’s best to use wet dog food so the duck will get some water and avoid dehydration.
    • You can also put out a bowl of water for an injured duck to get rehydrated.
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    Hide somewhere with a net. Find a place to hide where you can see the food bowl, but the duck will not be able to see you. Hide there with a net big enough to fit the duck.
    • A net with a handle will give you good leverage to be able to scoop up the duck without having to get too close.
    • Get a net with an opening greater than 1 foot in diameter. A large fishing net is a good option.
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    Sneak up on the duck. While the duck is eating the dog food, quietly sneak up behind it. Make your movements quick but quiet because you need to get up to the duck before it’s done eating, but you don’t want the duck to hear you coming.
    • Keep the net hidden behind your back so the duck does not see it.
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    Scoop up the duck with the net. When you get close enough to the duck for the net to reach, swiftly bring the net down over the duck.
    • Grasp the duck by the neck while it is in the net to gently lift it off the ground.
    • If the duck flies away before you can get the net out, try the method again the next day.
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    Remove the duck from the net. Place the net on the ground and gently reach in to grasp the duck by the neck. Be careful not to pull the duck out with its wings tangled in the net. Gently work the net free from the duck's feet and wings to prevent injuring the duck.
    • While holding the duck by the neck you can safely place it in a carrier for transport, or release it in a new location.

Method 2
Catching a Duck at Night

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    Wait until it is dark out. Ducks don’t see well in the dark, so your best bet at catching a duck is at night. Wait until the middle of the night when it’s the darkest and the ducks will be sleeping.[2]
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    Sneak up on the duck. While the duck is sleeping, carefully creep up on the duck. Make your movements slow so that you don’t risk waking the duck and alerting them to your plan.
    • Observe the location where you have spotted the duck for several nights. You maybe able to locate a nesting location where the duck sleeps each night.
    • Look for matted grass or droppings nearby to find the duck's resting spot.
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    Put down a carrier. Put an animal carrier down right next to where the duck is sleeping. Have the door open and ready for your to scoop the duck into the carrier.
    • Open the latch of the carrier before approaching the duck to prevent the noise of the locking mechanism from disturbing the duck.
    • A plastic animal carrier for a small dog or cat is a good size for a duck.
    • Avoid carriers with long slits as the duck's wings may slip through and become trapped.
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    Scoop the duck into the carrier with a blanket. When you’ve crept up very close to the duck, cover the duck with a lightweight blanket or towel. Quickly use the blanket to scoop the duck into the carrier before the duck has a chance to figure out what’s happening. Close the carrier’s door and lock it.
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    Release the duck in a new location. Turn the door of the carrier away from your body and reach over the top of the carrier to open the door. Try to keep your arms and body away from the opening to allow the duck to escape peacefully.

Method 3
Trapping a Duck

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    Build a funnel trap. Attach 5 foot metal or wooden poles to a mesh net every three to four feet. You will need a section of net that is 6 feet wide by 30 feet long.[3]
    • A funnel trap works by allowing the ducks to squeeze into a narrow opening that is tapered inward making it easy to get in but hard to get out.
    • Hammer the posts into the ground in a circular shape with the ends of the net extending inward to the middle of the circle.
    • Drape a piece of netting over the top of your trap to keep the ducks from flying out.
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    Place the trap in an area frequented by ducks. Observe the behavior of the ducks you are attempting to catch for a few days to get a good idea of where to place the trap.
    • Traps can be placed on dry land or in shallow water.
    • The best time to catch ducks is after they have mated and molted their flight feathers which leaves them grounded.
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    Attract the duck to your trap. In order for your trap to be effective you will need to get the duck to be comfortable coming to the area where the trap is located.
    • Spread bait in and around the trap. Keep the majority of the bait inside the trap to encourage the duck to enter the trap. You don’t want them to feed outside of the trap, but it is necessary to place a small amount of bait such as corn outside the trap to attract them to the area initially.
    • Place a decoy duck in the trap. When ducks see another duck in an area they are more likely to investigate and approach the area. Placing a mounted duck inside the trap is the most realistic decoy, however wooden or plastic decoys can also be effective.
    • Use a duck call to attract ducks to the area where your trap is located. Be sure that you stay hidden in blind or under cover to avoid spooking the ducks.
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    Scoop the ducks into a net or cloth bag. Remove the ducks from the trap one by one by scooping them up with a net or bag.
    • If you must grab the duck with your hands, grab it by the neck rather than the wings to prevent injury to the duck.
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    Remove the ducks from the bag. After transporting your ducks to their new location, gently lay the bag on the ground. Open the end of the bag and grasp the duck firmly, yet gently, around the neck. Pull the ducks from the ground and hug them towards your body with your other arm to prevent them from flapping their wings. Release the duck onto the ground to waddle away.


  • When waiting for ducks you need to be motionless and quiet; ducks are easily spooked.
  • Ducks can be corralled into a trap by using netting to create a wide “V” shape that ends at your trap. Use a group of people to herd the ducks toward a trap.
  • Ducks lose their feathers in the fall leaving them flightless and easier to catch.


  • Avoid grabbing ducks by the wings as you may injure them.
  • When setting a trap for ducks, check it often to make sure the ducks don’t panic and injure themselves.

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