Although the early Canada goose season is past and youth waterfowl hunting day gave kids a taste of duck hunting a few weeks ago, the traditional duck season opens Saturday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m.
Like many hunters, I will be heading west to the Montevideo area in hopes of getting a few wood ducks or a mallard or two to set into my decoys.
I’ve been hunting the same small slough for a few years now and because of good water levels, was expecting a better-than-average Minnesota duck hunt this year.
September scouting trips to the area revealed good numbers of local ducks and a bit of dry landscape concentrating ducks and allowing farmers to get an early start on the crop harvest.
At the time, the sugar beet harvest had already started near the area I hunt.
The prospects were good, actually the best in several years.
Now, with 4 to 8 inches of rain falling across much of southern Minnesota last week and every cornfield pothole you can imagine full of water, the ducks will be spread out, conditions most likely muddy, and the prospects for duck hunting success diminished.
Local rivers like the Crow will be high, and hunting them will be difficult, if not dangerous.
Be safe, not sorry, and prepared for high water levels and tough travel across fields and dirt roads when you head out for the duck season.
Shooting hours begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 and then one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. through Saturday, Oct. 9 and until sunset thereafter.
For bag limits and additional information, refer to the 2010 Minnesota Hunting Regulations Waterfowl Supplement.
Waverly Gun Club upcoming events
The Waverly Gun Club has a number of events coming up and running through October.
Below is what the gun club has going on. For additional information, go to www.waverlygunclub.org, or call Kevin at (763) 242-4553.
• Doubles league begins Thursday, Oct. 7 and runs for four weeks. Teams or individuals are welcome.
• Range site-ins will take place for three weekends starting Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17; Saturday, Oct. 23 and Sunday, Oct. 24; and concluding Saturday, Oct. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 31. Times are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Canceal and carry class will be Monday, Oct. 18 and Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner Oct. 9
Prairie Archers will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Oct. 9.
The dinner runs from 5 to 8 p.m.
The cost of the dinner ranges from $8 to $14.
Call in your reservations before Friday, Oct. 8 to either Jim Richardson (320) 395-2721 or to the Dodge House (320) 395-2877.
Each dinner includes baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, coffee or milk, and a complimentary drink.
From Avery Pro-Staff
• Name: Ben Cade
Date: Sept. 21
Weather: Sunshine with highs around 70 and lows in the upper 40s.
Snow Cover: None.
Water Conditions: Wetlands are full and there is some sheet-water on many area fields.
The area has been getting additional rainfall and more is in the forecast for this week.
Field hunting during the final days of the early season could be difficult with the wet field conditions.
Feeding Conditions: Silage fields and grain fields continue to be the primary food sources for geese at this point in the season.
Bean fields are beginning to be harvested where fields are dry enough to allow access by farmers.
Species and Numbers: We have a fair number of ducks around, with a good amount of them being wood ducks.
Mallards have been hanging around feeders and areas off limits to hunting.
Canada geese numbers are very good after a good migration last week.
Migrations: We had a major migration Tues., September 14 with a slight trickle in the following few days with north winds.
Many of these birds moved on through, but there are good flocks to be found.
Season Stage: Early goose season wraps up Wed., September 22.
Our general waterfowl season begins Sat., October 2.
Hunting Report: Hunting has been fairly consistent in our area with some limits reported and many decoying hunters have been firing the guns more often than not.
Gossip: Mid-week hunting seems to have been the ticket for this early season.
The weather has been cooperating during the work week and those who have been able to get out have been reaping the rewards.
Conservation officer reports from area
From the DNR
• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers and boaters in Stearns and Wright counties. CO Mies gave a law talk at the South Haven Firearms class. CO Mies checked small game hunters.
• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave a presentation to a Firearms Safety Class in Monticello. Reller also check on how the youth waterfowl hunters did this year.
It appeared that the numbers of youth hunters were down as were the duck numbers.
Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines and some watercraft violations.
• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked the deer bow opener with very few hunters out.
The small game opener and youth waterfowl day was worked with few hunters observed but the hunters out had a great time.
The Minnesota River was worked with CO Block checking walleye anglers who were having excellent success.
Much of the week was spent returning calls on deer regulations.
• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) spoke to a college class at Metro State University about the job of a Conservation Officer.
She responded to several goose hunting complaints in Carver County.
She also spent time patrolling the MN Valley State Park and continued to answer questions about the deer season.
• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked early goose, dove, archery deer, and small game hunting activity.
Additional time was spent checking youth hunters during the youth waterfowl hunt.
Hatlestad also checked angling, boating, and invasive species activity.
Hatlestad also spoke at FAS classes in Cedar Mills and Litchfield.
Time was also spent completing required training, checking WMAs/WPAs, and enforcing ATV laws.
• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson) reports anglers are having success with walleyes and crappies on local lakes, and also checked several happy kids on youth waterfowl day with ducks.
Officer Graham also checked boaters, ATVs, goose and dove hunters, took a shooting complaint and baiting calls, and spoke at Gopher Campfires firearms safety class.
Enforcement action was taken on an individual who took a smallmouth bass out of season, youth ATV violations, and operating watercraft without proper amount of PFDs.
• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked a busy week that included the opening of the small game and archery seasons along with Youth Waterfowl Day.
CO Oberg reports several small game hunters had luck with fox squirrels over the weekend with most hunters bagging a few each.
Goose hunters also did well; limits were checked around Hutchinson.
Archery hunters checked enjoyed the cool morning and several reported seeing deer while on stand.
CO Oberg responded to a TIP call and calls related to deer hunting.
A nuisance beaver permit was also issued.
Comments on muskie stocking proposals accepted to Sept. 30
From the DNR
Interested individuals have until Thursday, Sept. 30, to comment on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposals to stock muskellunge in five new waters starting in the fall of 2011.
The proposals are in response to a growing interest in muskellunge fishing.
Lakes proposed for muskellunge management are Roosevelt Lake in Cass and Crow Wing counties, Upper South Long Lake and Lower South Long Lake in Crow Wing County, Tetonka Lake in LeSueur County, and the Sauk River Chain of Lakes in Stearns County.
Additional information about the proposals, as well as an online survey on the issue, are available at mndnr.gov/muskie. Comments also may be emailed to email@example.com, or sent via regular mail to Muskie Stocking Proposals, Minnesota DNR, 1201 E. Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.
The DNR is proposing five new muskellunge waters because interest in muskellunge fishing has risen substantially in recent years.
The best science indicates stocking muskellunge in low densities in these lakes will not harm existing fish populations.
All public input whether collected on forms at the public meetings or via online survey, e-mail or mail will be considered equally.
The DNR will review public input during October and November.
Decisions on each stocking proposal are expected in December.
If the DNR decides to move forward, stocking would begin in 2011 or 2012.
Some 12 to 15 years afterward, the fish would reach the 48-inch minimum size to be kept by anglers.
Authorization needed to transport boats with zebra mussels
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds boaters and businesses that it is illegal to transport zebra mussels on boats and equipment removed from infested waters without authorization from DNR.
A new authorization form has been created for boat owners that allows them to transport their boats, with zebra mussels attached, to their home or another location for cleaning and winter storage.
This easy-to-use form provides immediate approval and information on proper transport and disposal of zebra mussels.
“We are trying to provide options for boaters and businesses to legally move boats to cleaning locations at the end of the boating season without risking further spread of zebra mussels,” said Phil Meier, DNR Regional Enforcement supervisor.
A permit is required for commercial boat and dock businesses that need to transport their customer’s zebra mussel infested boats and equipment to a cleaning location.
The commercial permit applications and authorization form for boat owners to transport infested boats are available at www.mndnr.gov/permits/invasive_species or by calling the DNR at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.
Zebra mussel infested waters are posted with Invasive species alert signs at public waters accesses.
Examples of waters with zebra mussels are Lake Minnetonka, Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Superior, parts of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, the Alexandria area lakes and several lakes in the Detroit Lakes area.
Except with the authorization form, under Minnesota laws it is illegal to transport aquatic plants, water in boats, and prohibited invasive species such as zebra mussels.
Reminders for boat owners
• Boaters on all waters must drain water and remove drain plugs before transporting their boats to winter storage locations.
• With the new authorization form, boat owners must be sure to clean mussels from their boats before transporting and relaunching again in spring.
• Lake residents and businesses should also be careful to avoid transporting docks, boat lifts, and swim rafts that have zebra mussels attached.
• Docks, boat lifts, and swim rafts removed from zebra mussel infested waters for winter and stored on the shoreline may be placed back into lake or river at the same location in spring without cleaning.
• The DNR encourages lakeshore residents to look for zebra mussels on the lake equipment when they remove it from the water.
If people suspect they found mussels in a lake that is not known to have them, they should contact local DNR office.
Shooting sports foundation, DNR launch Families Afield
From the DNR
In an effort to get more families afield, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has teamed with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in a promotional campaign to make people aware of youth and family hunting opportunities.
“This partnership enables the DNR to work closely with national experts to assist with promotional and marketing efforts designed to create additional awareness about our outreach efforts,” said Jenifer Matthees, DNR project lead for the campaign. “It’s also gratifying to be recognized as part of a select group of states for our leadership in the area of hunter recruitment and retention.”
Minnesota’s hunter recruitment and retention program is recognized nationally for its progressive work to reduce barriers to hunting participation and create new hunting opportunities.
The program, working through the state Legislature, has reduced youth hunting license prices; reduced the minimum draw weight requirement for archery hunting, and created an Apprentice Hunter Validation Program that allows a one-year exemption from firearms safety training under certain safe hunting conditions.
Programmatically, the DNR has added mentored hunts for deer, waterfowl, and pheasant for youth and women. and exempted youth from the spring turkey hunting lottery.
The DNR has also implemented statewide youth antlerless deer privileges and an early youth deer hunting season.
Minnesota was one of four state programs selected by the NSSF to participate in this effort.
Other states participating include Arizona, Oregon and Nebraska.
“The NSSF Families Afield philosophy focuses on reducing barriers to hunting participation, particularly among existing and potential youth hunters,” said Melissa Shilling, NSSF recruitment and retention manager. “Minnesota’s pioneering work and evolving programs are a perfect fit for NSSF’s focus.”