Minnesota hunters bagged more ducks and Canada geese in 2011 than in 2010 and more waterfowl hunters took to the field, too, reversing a downward trend, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
"The results are in and the numbers moved in a good direction," said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife section chief. "Duck hunter numbers and success were up, resulting in an increased harvest from 2010."
"The takeaway from last year's season is that more waterfowl hunters were in the field and those who went hunting had better success, which is a good thing and something hunters have longed for," said Simon.
The total duck harvest in Minnesota increased 19 percent from 2010, from 524,000 ducks in 2010 to 621,000 ducks in 2011. The recent 10-year average harvest is 655,000 ducks.
Mallards were the most common duck in hunters' bags, with 181,000 mallards harvested. Mallards represented 29 percent of the total duck bag.
Wood ducks were the second most common duck in hunters' bags, with 151,000 wood ducks harvested in 2011 compared to 78,000 in 2010. Blue-winged teal harvest was 90,000, ring-necked duck harvest was 63,000, and green-winged teal harvest was 37,000.
Duck hunter success was 8.1 ducks per hunter per season, which increased from 7.5 ducks per hunter per season in 2010 and near the 10-year average of 8.4 ducks per hunter per season.
Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, said the agency made a number of regulation changes in 2011 that collectively played a role in last year's higher harvest.
Cordts said opening the season earlier likely had the most impact on increases to duck harvest, particularly with the large increase in harvest for early migrant species like blue-winged teal and wood ducks.
The number of active duck hunters in Minnesota was 77,000 in 2011, an increase from 70,000 in 2010.