Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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LqP goose hunting needs Arctic blast

Watson, Minn. – Time is running out on the Lac qui Parle
Wildlife Management Area goose hunt, and still the “big push” of
Canada geese to the area has yet to arrive.

Goose hunting in Minnesota’s West-Central Zone ends Nov. 29;
only about 44,000 geese were staging at the refuge area earlier in
the week.

Dave Trauba, the DNR’s Lac qui Parle WMA manager, said that
given the mild temperatures here and in Canada, geese really had no
reason to move south, against south breezes.

“We need a cold front in Canada – quick,” Trauba said Monday. He
said the number of geese at the refuge, where hunters reserve
blinds to hunt geese, has been growing, steadily. Still, goose
numbers historically have been higher at this time of year.

“We’re in uncharted territory – this late in November with
numbers this low,” he said.

With firearms deer hunting now part of the mix, goose hunter
numbers on the WMA have dropped considerably.

Standing crops in the area further have hindered goose hunting;
hunters with ag leases just off the refuge “have no place to go,”
Trauba said, because crops remain in the fields.

But goose hunting could improve in a hurry.

“We can go from 45,000 to over 100,000 in a day,” Trauba
said.

Last year’s high was 135,000 geese visiting the LqP WMA. The
highest count occurred 20 years ago, in 1989; then, officials
counted some 158,000 geese in the area.

The length of the season at LqP long has been a debated topic,
mainly because of past inconsistent reproduction of Eastern Prairie
Population geese, which migrate through the area and stage at
LqP.

Currently the regular season in the small West-Central Zone is
just 41 days, shorter than the regular 60- and 70-day goose seasons
in the state’s other zones, and there’s no West-Central late
December season.

Trauba believes that should change.

“I think it’s time we have a longer season,” he said.

The arrival of large influxes of geese has been trending later
each year, and October hunts have brought limited hunter
success.

“Unless Canada is buried in snow in October, the really large
numbers of geese in the refuge in October would be rare,” Trauba
said.

Earlier this week, forecasts called for a slow cool-down over
the weekend in western Minnesota and portions of Canada that
typically supply the migrant geese.

Ducks

The DNR’s migration report reflects what Trauba’s been seeing of
Lac qui Parle geese: A few more ducks are trickling through the
state, but the attention of hunters has turned to whitetails.

According to Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, wetland
habitat was in good shape across the state; some shallow lakes and
wetlands in the northern half of the state had some ice as of late
last week. Subsequent warmer temps cleared much of that during the
daylight hours.

Cordts said in his report that the number of canvasbacks on
Mississippi River pools 7 to 9 had increased to almost 400,000
birds. More late-season migrants were expected to make it to the
state this week.

However, Cordts said no major cold fronts were expected in the
near-term, so large influxes of ducks weren’t expected.

The duck-hunting season in Minnesota runs through Dec. 1.

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