A Complete Resource to Duck Hunting Riverton Wildlife Area

How to hunt at Riverton

Where to hunt at Riverton

What to expect when hunting Riverton

Riverton Wildlife Area is located in Fremont County, Iowa, which is in the southwestern corner of the state. Its location in the Missouri River bottoms makes it a popular location for ducks migrating each fall and provides ample opportunity for avid duck hunters. The majority of the area is made up of shallow marshes that provide a quality food source for birds moving south. During the season, thousands of ducks stop at Riverton on their way down the Mississippi Flyway. The management practices have made it one of the best and most popular places to duck hunt in Iowa. Keep reading for how to hunt the area, where to hunt while you are there, and what to expect.

How to hunt Riverton Wildlife Area

Open hunting

Riverton Wildlife Area is an open hunting location, which means there are no designated areas for hunting parties, nor is there a limit as to how many parties can hunt on a given day. If waterfowl hunters want to hunt the area, all they have to do is check in at the headquarters and then head out to the marsh. Since there are no boundaries within the hunting pools, parties can set up anywhere they want.


Duck hunters will want to bring a boat in order to access most locations at Riverton Wildlife Area. A john boat with a motor is preferred, as it allows hunters to access the area easily and haul all the gear necessary. Many hunters will be putting boats in during the morning of a hunt, so the ramps can get crowded and hunters will usually race to where they want to hunt for the day.

Many hunters also bring layout boats to navigate to hunting locations at Riverton Wildlife Area. These are great to use because they are small and can also serve as a blind for hunters. The only downfall to using them is that you cannot haul as much gear.

Gear spotlight

Before you go to Riverton, be sure you have a marsh seat. These are perfect for providing comfort and concealment at the same time. Click the image to check current pricing on Amazon.

Where to hunt at Riverton Wildlife Area

North Riverton

Map of North Riverton

Map showing where duck hunters can hunt at Riverton Wildlife Area
Map indicating boundary lines of the northern section of Riverton. Yellow lines are area boundary lines. Red lines are refuge boundary lines. Lines are approximate.

The northern section of Riverton Wildlife Area (north of State Highway 42) is popular among hunters because of the amount of area available for hunting. Also, the refuge in this section usually holds the most birds on the WMA. In most years, this pool is full of vegetation for ducks to feed on throughout the migration. The pool also consists of large sections of willows and other trees for hunters to hide in. Most of this section is wadable with the exception of the boat lanes. The boat lanes are significantly deeper than the rest of the pool, so always be sure to check the depth of the water before setting decoys and getting out of the boat.

The most popular locations to hunt in this section are along the refuge border. Since thousands of ducks roost on the refuge in the fall, the parties closest to the refuge boundary line are usually most successful. However, this does not mean the rest of the pool does not harvest ducks. The birds fly the pool throughout the day, so parties that are set up under their flight line will generally have success as well.

South Riverton

Map of South Riverton

Map showing where duck hunters can hunt on the south end of Riverton Wildlife Area
Map indicating boundary lines of the southern section of Riverton. Yellow lines are area boundary lines. Red lines are refuge boundary lines. Lines are approximate.

The southern section of Riverton Wildlife Area (south of State Highway 42) is also a great place for duck hunters. In most years, there is vegetation throughout the pool and in the refuge. There is not as much natural cover in the southern section, which can make hiding from the ducks a challenge. However, this pool can still be phenomenal, especially when you are hunting close to the refuge.

Many hunters use a boat blind in the southern section to help with concealment since there is not as much natural cover. Layout boats also work well in this pool because they are low profile and hunters can stay hidden in them easily.


What to expect when hunting Riverton Wildlife Area


The management staff at Riverton Wildlife Area does an exceptional job each year when it comes to making the area attractable to ducks. One way is by ensuring the area has adequate water levels for migrating birds. The installation of pumps has made this possible, even in the driest of years. Another reason why ducks love this place is because of the food source it offers them. Since it is located in the Missouri River bottoms, raising natural vegetation is relatively easy. By providing an abundance of food during the migration, ducks and hunters both benefit.

Other hunters

Like most public duck hunting locations in the United States, Riverton Wildlife Area attracts a large number of hunters. This can be frustrating, especially if you are not used to competing for ducks, arriving early, and racing to your location each morning. The peak number of hunters will occur on weekends and when a big cold front is in the forecast. Riverton is one of the best managed locations in Iowa, which is why so many hunters want to come here.

Pressured ducks

It does not take long for pressure to build on the ducks at Riverton Wildlife Area, especially when the same ducks have been using the area for a prolonged period of time. Some hunters have a tendency to sky bust and hail call when this happens, which can be frustrating for other parties. Instead of doing that, try distancing yourself from other parties, making sure you are hidden, and creating a realistic decoy spread. This will give you the best chance at chasing pressured birds at Riverton.


There are two waterfowl refuges at Riverton Wildlife Area. Each one holds a significant amount of ducks throughout the fall migration. Many of the birds on the area roost within the refuges because of the food available and they are a safe place away from hunters. When out hunting, be aware of refuge boundary lines. Do not cross these lines and always obey the law.


Best time of year to hunt at Riverton Wildlife Area

Early Season: Mid-October to early November

Early season at Riverton Wildlife Area consists of a variety of puddle ducks, many hunters, and mild weather. Teal, gadwall, widgeon, and mallards are all common species of ducks on the area during this time of year. At the beginning of the season, the weather around the area is mild and the birds usually move early in the morning and late in the evening.

Mid-Season: Early November to early December

This time of year at Riverton Wildlife Area can be great if the weather has cooperated and pressure has not built up on the birds using the area. If a cold front has swept across the place, new ducks will be arriving and hunter success will increase. In years past, Riverton has experienced their peak number of ducks during November.

Late Season: Early December to end of season

By this time of year, thousands of ducks will be using Riverton Wildlife Area and if the weather has not dropped below freezing during during the day and night, they will stick around. Many hunters decide not to endure the harsh conditions this time of year brings along, so there are generally fewer hunters on the area. If ice does cover the pools, using full bodies and hunting near the refuges has proven effective.

Area map

Iowa DNR hunting regulations

This article is not a comprehensive resource for rules, laws, or regulations. Please refer to the links above and other resources provided by Iowa DNR for specific information.

Boundary lines on the maps provided are not exact. Always look for posted areas where hunters are not allowed and do not enter the refuges. Always obey the law and follow the area rules.

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