Story at a Glance
Species covered in this article include:
- Black Duck
- Wood Duck
- Ring-necked Duck
In the month of October, ring-necked ducks migrate en masse to large lakes in central and northern Minnesota. And HIP data indicate that the state's hunters welcome their arrival. Minnesota annually leads the nation in ringneck harvest numbers with an average of more than 82,000 birds. The marshes and open water of Lake Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake are popular spots for hunters to take these early divers. Rice Lake NWR annually holds over 160,000 ringnecks in mid-October. Biologist Michelle McDowell says, "Ringnecks are drawn to the lakes in this area to feed on wild rice and other aquatic plants."
Looking at the big picture, the geography and ecology of these top destinations runs the gamut. However, each place is similar in its ability to provide ducks with basic requirements: adequate habitat, sufficient food sources, and a tolerable amount of hunting pressure. So as these variables change over time, duck hunters need to adapt to be successful in the field. by Bill Nichol