Duck opener ’13: a little good, a little not so good

Bemidji, Minn. — Steve Cordts heard fantastic blue-winged teal hunting reports from this past weekend, which marked the opening of the state’s 60-day duck season.

The problem: Those reports were from states to the south.

“From what I’ve heard, things were a little spotty,” said Cordts, the DNR waterfowl specialist. “Most people will say last year was a good opener, and that this year wasn’t quite as good.”

Indeed, blue-winged teal and wood ducks are very important for early season hunters. While many seemed to find wood ducks, teal were less common.

“Some folks shot the teal pretty good, but it sounds like wood ducks were better and saved the day,” Cordts said.

Brad Nylin, executive director of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, hunted Saturday near Long Prairie. His group of seven, which included four kids, wound up with four teal.

“It was a little slow, and we didn’t see as many birds as we saw last year,” he said. “We didn’t hear a lot of shooting and, frankly, didn’t see a lot of hunters….”

By Monday afternoon, Nylin had spoken with a number of other hunters.

“It seemed like there were pockets of areas where people did really well,” he said. “From the reports I’ve gotten, it seemed like a pretty mixed bag in terms of success.”

Around the Lac qui Parle area, the number of cars seemed to be similar to other years. But the number of green-winged teal and mallards seemed to be down, so Dave Trauba, the LqP

Wildlife Management Area manager, expects the number of birds per hunter to be down some.

“I think the guys did well; it was a good opener,” Trauba said. “But the birds aren’t evenly distributed throughout the Lac qui Parle unit, so you needed to scout.”

According to reports Cordts received, hunters at Swan Lake in Nicollet County averaged 1.6 ducks per hunter, which was down from 2.9 last year. About half were blue-winged teal; the others primarily were wood ducks, mallards, and redheads.

Hunters at the Thief Lake WMA averaged about two ducks per hunter, which was down from three ducks per hunter last year.

In the Grand Rapids area, hunters averaged 1.9 ducks per hunter. Hunter numbers were down from the five-year average.

Ring-necked ducks didn’t seem to be present in large numbers anywhere.

“Anywhere that predominantly shoots ringnecks, which is the north-central part of the state, it was probably a little bit of a slow opener,” Cordts said. “The further south and west you went, I bet, if you found blue-winged teal you probably did pretty well.”

That was the case at Lake Christina, where “probably 90 percent of the birds that were shot” were teal, said John Lindquist, president of the Christina-Ina-Anka Lake Association.

The lake, which was drawn down last year, looks good, he said.

“The duck food looks great – there’s a lot of food there,” Lindquist said. “But there aren’t any divers here yet.”


Following are reports from conservation officers across the state:

  • The duck opener in the Detroit Lakes area was one of the busiest in recent years. All of the groups that CO Chris Vinton checked had birds – primarily mallards and teal.
  • There were high numbers of hunters in the Moorhead area. They killed primarily mallards, teal, and wood ducks.
  • Hunters in the Pelican Rapids area had spotty success.
  • There were lots of hunters in the Fergus Falls area, and they had good success. Mallards and teal were most common.
  • Success in the Osakis area was lower than in previous years.
  • Hunters in the Morris area averaged three ducks apiece.
  • Hunters had good success in the Hibbing area, shooting mainly mallards, teal, and wood ducks.
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