Waterfowl hunters need to be aware of low water on Minnesota’s wetlands, lakes and waterways when hunting seasons begin, starting with the experimental early teal season from Saturday. Sept. 4, through Wednesday, Sept. 8, and the early goose season from Sept. 4 through Sept. 19.
“With the low water conditions, scouting or checking ahead could make the difference between a disappointing hunt and a successful one,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Hunters may also experience significant issues with launching at boats ramps on waterbodies that are shallow well beyond the ramp.”
Most of Minnesota’s wetlands, lakes and waterways have lower water, and in many places, the water level is drastically lower. Many shallow wetlands or temporary waterways are dry. Hunters are encouraged to scout areas ahead of time for water levels, vegetation densities and bird use. Hunter crowding could be an issue, especially on waterfowl opener, because hunters may choose to move to new locations if their traditional opener hunting locations are too dry.
The DNR also reminds waterfowl hunters to review the Minnesota waterfowl hunting regulations for new hunting opportunities and regulation changes.
Periodic droughts are natural occurrences. While droughts have real impacts on businesses, landowners, and natural resources, periods of low water also encourage aquatic vegetation growth important for food and protective cover for waterfowl and other species of wildlife.
These waterfowl areas are among others that may be difficult to access:
Becker, Norman and Mahnomen counties
All temporary and seasonal wetlands are completely dry, semi-permeant wetlands are low with exposed mudflats along the shores, and most small streams and ditches are dry or nearly so. Hunters will find larger wetlands and lakes 1-2 feet lower than last year, and access at boat ramps will be difficult. Low water levels have been great for aquatic vegetation growth and wild rice in particular is very abundant, which is great for ducks; however, thick rice and low water levels will make access into the rice stands extremely difficult.
More information on waterfowl hunting is available on the DNR website.
Watch for wild ricers when new early teal season opens
Minnesota waterfowl hunters will have a new opportunity to hunt teal during an experimental early season from Saturday, Sept. 4, through Wednesday, Sept. 8.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters to follow all applicable laws, including not hunting in areas that are posted closed. Hunters should also be aware that there may be tribal restrictions on hunting wild rice lakes within the boundaries of the White Earth and Leech Lake reservations.
Shooting hours will be from sunrise to sunset. Hunters may harvest six birds per day in any combination of blue- and green-winged teal.
“Since wild rice season is open at the same time, teal hunters will need to be aware of and cautious about wild ricers,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “A safety mindset and mutual courtesy will allow for successful early teal hunting and wild ricing. With this year’s drought conditions, scouting ahead to ensure access to desired areas is critical for both teal hunters and ricers.”
The early teal season is experimental for up to three years. Observers will be documenting what species hunters target and shoot so DNR biologists can evaluate that data each year.
“Future seasons are contingent on hunters’ abilities to hunt safely and accurately target only the species of allowed teal,” Cordts said. “With others on the water at the same time, hunters must know with certainty what’s beyond their blinds and decoys before shooting.”
Information to help hunters properly identify waterfowl is available in an illustrated guide contained in the 2021 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations. Access to complete information on Minnesota’s waterfowl hunting seasons is available from the DNR’s waterfowl hunting web portal.