There was a slight hint of controlled chaos. It started with a green wing teal that landed within our spread. 13-year-old Danny Amundson gripped the new semi-auto 12 gauge that he saved up for and bought himself. He slowly pulled the trigger and little balls of steel flew across the small pond that we had set up on. The duck “matrixed” it’s way through the pellets and took flight. Danny’s hunting partner, 13-year-old Corbin shouldered his single-shot 20 gauge and began the butt-belly-beak-bang sequence. I watched as the teal folded up neatly and splashed into the water. As I turned to fist bump with the shooter, he said “Something just hit me in the head.”
“Something just hit me in the head, I think it was Danny’s bird.”
As Corbin was knocking down his first out-of-the-air duck on his first day ever duck hunting, Danny had taken aim at a pigeon that had flown over. Both kids crumpled their targets impressively-but the best part of the story was discovering that the pigeon dropped right onto Corbin’s head as it tumbled out of the sky, prompting laughter and more hi-fives.
Welcome to the Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day.
For one day, before the regular season opens, kids in Minnesota get to hunt ducks and geese. According to the Minnesota DNR:
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Saturday, Sept. 7. Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a nonhunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required). Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from a half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken statewide.
We took full advantage of the opportunity on Saturday by inviting my nephew, Danny and his friend Corbin, out to western Minnesota. A few possible locations were scouted during the week prior and ducks were seen flocking up and using a couple nearby sloughs.
Ducks were seen on a small pothole with standing corn on 3 sides. Permission was asked for and given by the landowner and finally, after a quick planning session with Google Earth, the kids were ready for an anxious night of tossing and turning.
The 5 AM alarm clock came early for the kids and adults alike, and soon we were painting faces and packing decoys. A short drive to the field followed and the hunt was on!
We explained setting up to work with the wind and creating a landing zone for the ducks. We had very little wind and wouldn’t need to call much. We set up a few mallard decoys on one side and 3 wood duck decoys on the other. Wings were buzzing the pond before legal shooting hours and you could sense the excitement building. It might have built more for the two fathers and myself than the kids, but they were pumped too.
For the next couple of hours, blue wing teal, green wing teal and wood ducks would drop into our small pond. The occasional mallard would wing by before opting for the larger slough across the road. Unfortunately, the majority of ducks would land just out of reach. Since there was very little wind, we felt comfortable moving across to another side, allowing us access to the favorable patch of open water.
A few birds were missed, completely understandable for youth waterfowl day, but also something that you’ll see with the adult hunters on opening day as well. All in all, it was a great morning in the duck slough with great weather, good hunting and an introduction of another kid and his father into the fun world of waterfowling!