Minnesota Department of Natural Resources predicts good hunting when the regular waterfowl season opens one-half hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 27.
“The number of breeding ducks this spring was very high based on the continental duck breeding population surveys,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “In addition, recruitment, or the number of young ducks that hatched, was also good this year based on reports we’ve heard. These young ducks comprise a large percentage of duck hunters’ bags during the fall.”
Wetland conditions were favorable and the total continental breeding population of all ducks combined was more than 49 million ducks, which is 8 percent above last year and 43 percent above long-term averages, Cordts said. However, duck numbers can fluctuate widely at this time of year for a variety of reasons.
“Some species like blue-winged teal and wood ducks are very early migrants and many move south even before the season opens, which is normal,” Cordts said. “But many other species like ring-necked ducks and mallards will continue to increase in number as migrants move down from Canada during the season.”
Canada goose hunting should also be good early in the regular waterfowl season.
“Large numbers of Canada geese move into the state in mid- to late September. These were nonbreeding geese from Minnesota that moved to northern Canada during the summer to molt their flight feathers. These geese are new arrivals to Minnesota and provide good Canada goose hunting opportunity early in the season,” Cordts said.
Waterfowl habitat conditions are generally good statewide with much higher water levels than last year at this time.
The DNR will post a weekly waterfowl migration report each week during the duck season. The reports are typically posted on Thursday.
“If you haven’t been duck hunting in a few years, this may be a good year to get back out in the marsh,” Cordts said. “Hunter numbers have been very low compared to historic averages.”
Last fall, about 90,000 state waterfowl stamps were sold, which is similar to recent years but considerably lower than the 1970s, when 140,000 waterfowl stamps were sold.
Check out changes to duck season dates for the south duck zone.
The duck season structure is similar to recent years except for an adjustment in the duck season dates in the south duck zone only. In the south duck zone, the season opens for a three-day period from Sept. 27 through Monday, Sept. 29. The season is closed until it reopens Saturday, Oct. 11 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 6.
Waterfowl hunting regulations are available wherever DNR licenses are sold and online.
Photo of Mallard Duck courtesy of – Georgios Michalogiorgakis
Photo Canada Goose courtesy of – Joshua Mayer