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Migration Alert: Cooler temperatures improve Minnesota waterfowl numbers

Report posted October 14, 2011
  • photo by Michael Furtman
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Duck hunting success remained fair across the state over the past week despite the above average temperatures and predominantly south winds. However, the outlook for this weekend is very good with the favorable weather and wind conditions expected over the next several days.

Blue-winged teal and wood ducks are still present in fair numbers for this time of the season but numbers should decline rapidly over the next few days. Ring-necked duck numbers at Rice Lake NWR remain high for this time of year. Ring-necked duck numbers increased from last week on many other lakes, but numbers and concentrations are somewhat scattered due to the variable wild rice crop this season. Fair numbers of scaup are present in northern Minnesota and numbers should increase over the next week.

Hunters can expect to see a diverse mix of species in their bags' this weekend as more of the mid-season migrants move into the state. Green-winged teal, wigeon, gadwall, redhead, and canvasback numbers should all increase over the next several days. Canada goose numbers remain fair and expect some migrant geese to arrive with this cold front. Some tundra swans have moved into the state and more should be present by next week. Coot numbers increased dramatically in many locations since last week.

At present, wetland habitat conditions remain fairly dry in most regions. Wild rice stands are starting to deteriorate on many lakes. Row crop harvest is progressing rapidly in most areas with the dry conditions. About 25 percent of the corn and 85 percent of the soybeans have been harvested statewide.

Hunters can expect cooler temperatures through the weekend and into next week across the state, with daytime highs in the upper 40s in the north and overnight lows in the mid 30s. In the south, daytime highs should be near 60 with lows in the 40s through early next week. The cold front that moved into the state overnight should bring strong northwesterly winds (20-30 mph) that should remain through this weekend but very little precipitation is expected over the next several days.

Duck hunting pressure has declined in most locations but expect pressure to increase some this weekend with the favorable weather forecast.

Shooting hours close at sunset the remainder of the season. Bag limits are 6 ducks per day. The bag limit for hen mallards is 2 per day this season. The bag limit on wood ducks is 3 per day.

The regular Canada goose season runs until Dec. 17 in the North Duck Zone. In the South Duck Zone, the regular Canada goose season runs until Dec. 22. In the Rochester goose zone, the Canada goose season runs until Nov. 27, closes through Dec. 7 and reopens Dec. 8-Jan. 1. The bag limit is 3 Canada geese/day statewide for the entire season.

The sandhill crane season in the NW goose zone closed Oct. 9.
Motorized decoys are prohibited on state wildlife management areas the entire season. Hunters should consult the 2011 Waterfowl Hunting regulations (available from license vendors or online at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/hunting/index.html for additional details and regulations. Be aware that the new drain plug law remains in effect and hunters must remove drain plugs from boats before transporting them on public roads.

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