Weather last week blew a few ducks into state
Bemidji, Minn. — Waterfowlers hoping for the “big surge” of migrating ducks into the state got a taste of better action, but not enough to draw rave reviews last week.
Since a front brought with it stiff winds, rain, and even snow to some parts of Minnesota, weather conditions have since moderated; duck hunting remains good in many places, but not grand, according to Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist in Bemidji.
According to Cordts’ most recent waterfowl status report, “No major migration of ducks or geese was noted prior to or during the storm. However, most waterfowl surveys were cancelled this week and few hunters ventured out in the high winds.”
For hunters awaiting the “big push,” Cordts said, this wasn’t it.
“It certainly reshuffled the birds around, and you may have picked up a few birds depending where you are in the state,” he said.
Reports submitted to Cordts indicated a couple days of good hunting late last week, following the midweek storm. “But then it kind of fell off (last) weekend,” he said.
Temperatures weren’t expected to change much this week, he said, which means there’s likely little that will change in the way of duck distribution.
“We’ve seen ice a little bit, but it’s skim enough that by the end of the day and with a bit of wind, it’s breaking up,” he said. “It’s not doing enough to change duck and goose distribution.”
But that could change quickly.
“We’re close enough now that if we get to 20 degrees or the upper teens, we’d freeze a lot of stuff,” Cordts said. “In the northern third of the state, if there’s open water past the deer opener (this Saturday), we’re on borrowed time.”
Even though this duck season hasn’t included much in the way of dramatic weather patterns, stable, mild weather still seems to have produced decent hunting in most places, he said. It’s much unlike last year, when a warm September gave way to a wild October. While the ’09 duck opener was slow by most standards, the final three weekends were considered very good.
And while this October was little like last year’s, “From all reports hunting is similar to last year, thus far,” Cordts said.
Several state conservation officers weighed in this week about waterfowling activity.
In the north, Bemidji CO Stacy Sharp said more ducks were observed in hunters’ bags.
CO Troy Richards, of Fergus Falls, encountered mixed results.
Apparently, Park Rapids duck hunters weren’t the benefactors of a storm-induced migration. CO Sam Hunter said, “Duck hunters are reporting little success and are disappointed with the number of ducks in the area.”
CO Chad Thesing said duck and goose numbers in the area increased slightly, while CO Mike Martin reported a “large influx” of ducks to the area last week.
In St. Peter, CO Chris Howe said, “The cold weather and high winds last week moved some waterfowl, but the big numbers didn’t appear.”
Ed Picht, of Montevideo, said earlier this week that the Lac qui Parle refuge was hosting about 7,500 Canada geese, about 100,000 fewer than it sometimes holds this time of year, according to Cordts.
The state’s duck-hunting season runs through Nov. 30 this year. Goose hunting in most parts of the state runs through Christmas day. In the Rochester Goose Zone, goose hunting runs through Dc. 7, then reopens Dec. 16 and runs through Jan. 2. The bag limit is three Canada geese per day statewide.