DNR: Numbers reason for optimism as waterfowl opener looms
Duck hunting is expected to be good when Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season opens a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 22, according to the Minnesota DNR.
“The number of breeding ducks in Minnesota and North America has remained fairly high in recent years, so hopefully that will result in a good duck season,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “We also heard favorable reports on the number of duck broods over the summer.”
Wetland habitat conditions are variable across the state, with some dry conditions in the northern portion of the state.
“Canada goose hunting should improve as the season goes on,” Cordts said. “We had a poor goose hatch this spring and hunting success so far in September has been fairly low.”
Duck seasons and limits
The duck season structure is similar to recent years. The waterfowl seasons are based on a federal framework that applies to all states in the Mississippi Flyway. Waterfowl hunting regulations are available wherever DNR licenses are sold and regulations are available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.
Duck season will be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones:
- In the north zone, duck season is Sept. 22 through Tuesday, Nov. 20.
- In the central zone, duck season is Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 30, closes for five days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 6, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 25.
- In the south zone, duck season is Sept. 22 through Sept. 30, closes for 12 days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 13, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 2.
“There seems to be fairly good support for our current zones and split seasons, so we’ve maintained that season structure,” Cordts said. “But weather and other variables play a large role in how the season goes.”
The daily duck bag limit remains six per day. The mallard bag limit remains four per day, including no more than two hen mallards. The daily bag limits are three for wood duck and scaup; and two for redheads, canvasbacks, pintails and black ducks.
The DNR will post a weekly waterfowl migration report each week during the duck season. The reports are typically posted on Thursday afternoon at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.
Goose and sandhill crane seasons
Minnesota’s goose season will reopen in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 22, with a bag limit of three dark geese per day the entire season. “Dark” geese include Canada geese, white-fronted geese and brant. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20. “Light geese” include snow, blue and Ross’s geese. Goose season will be closed in the central and south duck zones when duck season is closed.
The season for sandhill cranes remains open through Sunday, Oct. 21, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only. The daily bag limit will be one sandhill crane per day. A $3 sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license.
More information on duck, goose, sandhill crane and other migratory bird hunting is available in the 2018 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations booklet from license vendors and online at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.