Cool, windy weather on Minnesota’s duck opener last Saturday turned out to be just what duck hunters were looking for.
Duck hunters in north-central Minnesota averaged about 2.7 ducks per hunter on opening day, up from 2.2 ducks per hunter in 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. One of the better locations was the Mud-Goose Wildlife Management Area (WMA) southwest of Deer River, where hunters averaged 3.6 ducks on opening day.
“Any harvest above three ducks per hunter on a WMA is excellent hunting,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist in Bemidji. “I consider two fair and three good.”
In northwestern Minnesota, hunter success at Roseau River WMA was about two ducks per hunter, but goose hunter success was very good. At Thief Lake WMA, hunter numbers were down from last year, but those who hunted averaged 3.3 ducks on opening day with dabbling ducks (blue-winged teal, mallard, pintail and widgeon) the most commonly harvested species and ring-necked ducks the number five bird in the bag, according to the DNR.
Across the state, blue-winged teal, wood duck and mallard made up most of the harvest on opening weekend, Cordts said.
“Duck numbers were good,” Cordts said in his weekly waterfowl report. “Hunter numbers were similar to last year, which was the first upturn in duck hunters in Minnesota in several years.”
With three duck hunting zones in effect in Minnesota this year, Cordts reminded hunters in the Central and South duck zones to be aware of closed dates in those zones, splitting the season into two parts to provide more opportunity later in the fall in those parts of the state.
The waterfowl season in the Central Duck Zone (south of Highway 210) will be closed from Oct. 1 through Oct. 5, and then reopen Oct. 6. In the South Duck Zone (south of Highway 212), the waterfowl season will be closed from Oct. 1 through Oct. 12, and then reopen Oct. 13. The goose season is also closed in the Central and South duck zones when the duck season is closed.