Across Minnesota, conservation officers report a pretty good duck opener
Weather, duck numbers and hunter success varied by region across the state.
DULUTH — Minnesota’s general waterfowl season started last Saturday, Sept. 24, with generally favorable reports from conservation officers across the state who were out patrolling marshes, lakes and rivers for opening weekend.
As usual, the number of ducks and hunters varied greatly depending on location. But most reports said ducks were plentiful, especially blue-winged teal, and that hunters did fairly well.
Some officers reported high levels of regulation violations, however, including a lack of personal flotation devices in boats, lack of duck stamps and use of lead shot.
Here are some of their reports.
Cloquet: Officer Tony Elwell reported “heavy fog and no wind made for a slow opening day, but overnight northwest winds helped some hunters on Sunday. Good numbers of wood ducks and teal have been observed in the area.”
Blackduck: Officer Demosthenes Regas reported that the duck opener “started with
almost perfect duck-hunting conditions opening morning. Regas noted hunters reporting seeing a good number of ducks but also that their shooting skills were a bit rusty.”
Bemidji: Officer Brice Vollbrecht reported “a busy waterfowl opener at many public accesses, with a mixed bag of ducks being brought in. Waterfowl hunters took mallards, wood ducks, pintails, ringnecks and teal.”
Elbow Lake: Officer Ryan Brown reported “a lot of hunters out for the opening of waterfowl hunting this weekend. A high percentage of groups he encountered were lucky enough to get their limits. Hunters reported seeing primarily teal, with the occasional mallard or wood duck.”
Alexandria: Officer Mitch Lawler “monitored waterfowl hunters on the busy opening weekend. Lots of groups were checked and almost all of them had very good success. Teal were the most commonly harvested birds around, with several two- and three-hunter limits counted.”
Ray: Officer John Slatinski reports “waterfowl hunters did not seem as eager as in past years. Although there were hunters on the water, the overall number of birds observed in the area seemed to be down. Mosquitoes and sand flies were still present.”
Hibbing: Officer Marc Johnson reported that “waterfowl hunters enjoyed a cool/rainy opener that allowed for some success in the blinds.”
Virginia: Officer Shane Zavodnik reported “waterfowl numbers were higher than normal for opener weekend, and the majority of hunters were found to have success.”
Orr: Officer Troy Fondie reported “the waterfowl opener was one of the poorest he has seen. Few ducks and fewer hunters observed.”
Ely: Officer Sean Williams reported the “waterfowl opener saw a generally low turnout in the Ely area, in spite of a good number of ducks and geese reported.”
Northome: Officer Vinny Brown reported “a decent number of waterfowl hunters were out and most had small numbers of ducks in their bags. Some hunters continue to forget that they don’t own public waters. Numerous complaints of territorial hunters harassing other hunters were taken.”
Deer River: Officer Mike Fairbanks reported “a busy opening weekend of the regular waterfowl hunting season, with lots of success for area hunters.”
Grand Rapids: Officer Thomas Sutherland reported “a busy weekend of waterfowl opener in the area, with very good results had by hunters. Hunters harvested numerous blue-winged teal, wood ducks and some mallards.”
Lake Benton: Officer Derek Daniels reported the “duck opener was busy with many groups leaving with limits.”
Onamia: Officer Dan Starr reported “opening of regular waterfowl season was a bit discouraging for CO Starr, as an unacceptable number of violations were found. A large list of violations included no small-game license, no state duck stamps, unsigned federal duck stamps, unplugged shotguns, possessing/using lead shot, insufficient PFDs, overloaded watercraft, failure to retrieve downed ducks, no HIP certification, no license in possession and illegal drug possession.”