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Minnesota DNR offers earlier duck opener, more options

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota duck hunters can take the field Sept. 24 -- a full week earlier than previous openers -- under waterfowl regulations the Department of Natural Resources announced this week.

Tom Landwehr
Tom Landwehr, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota duck hunters can take the field Sept. 24 -- a full week earlier than previous openers -- under waterfowl regulations the Department of Natural Resources announced this week.

Opening day shooting hours and the annual youth waterfowl hunt also will be earlier than the past, and the DNR has established north and south hunting zones to provide additional opportunities.

"We needed a change," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in a statement. "We heard from waterfowl hunters that they supported these changes, and with waterfowl hunter numbers at record lows, we don't expect season changes to negatively affect breeding populations."

Landwehr said the 60-day, six-duck limit waterfowl season will open a half-hour before sunrise Sept. 24 instead of the 9 a.m. start in place the past seven years; youth waterfowl day will be Sept. 10.

According to Landwehr, the earlier opener will allow hunting when more migrating wood ducks and blue-winged teal are in the state while also maintaining late-season opportunities. Bag limits are consistent with most other states in the Mississippi Flyway.

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The changes reflect input from a recently formed citizen waterfowl hunting focus group.

"As we set this year's season, we looked hard for ways to improve hunter opportunities and satisfaction while maintaining healthy waterfowl populations," Landwehr said. "I believe this framework strikes that balance."

New zones

Under the new regulations, hunting north of Minnesota Highway 210 -- the North Duck Zone -- will be allowed continuously through Nov. 22. Hunters in the South Duck Zone -- anywhere south of Highway 210 -- will have a split season. Hunting will be allowed Sept. 24-25 to take advantage of early migrations and then close for five days. The season in the south will resume Oct. 1 and continue through Nov. 27, Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Shooting hours end at 4 p.m. daily statewide until Oct. 8, when hunting will be allowed until sunset.

As part of the new regulations, hunters will be able to keep up to four mallards, two of which may be hens, and three wood ducks. The hen mallard and wood duck limits increased by one compared with recent years. Daily limits for pintail, scaup and redheads remain at two. Hunters still can take one canvasback and black duck. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit.

The special September Canada goose season will remain similar to last year. The season opens Sept. 3 and runs until Sept. 22 statewide, with a bag limit of five Canada geese per day.

The opening of the 85-day regular Canada goose season coincides with the opening of duck season Sept. 24 and retains a daily bag limit of three. Hunters north of Highway 210 may hunt continuously through Dec. 17. Hunters in the south zone can hunt Sept. 24-25 and then again from Oct. 1 through Dec. 22.

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"I'm really looking forward to this waterfowl season, and I hope Minnesota's duck hunters are, too," Landwehr said. "Given favorable weather conditions, Minnesota hunters should see more birds in the sky and more in their bag."

The DNR's waterfowl regulations supplement will be available at all license vendors and online by late August.

Related Topics: HUNTING
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