Waterfowl hunters and enthusiasts can take a break from the offseason and enjoy waterfowl once again, despite the actual birds being a thousand miles away. The 17th Annual MN Waterfowl Symposium and the 34th Annual MDCA Decoy Collectors Show is coming January 29th – February 1st at the Ramada by the Mall of America.
The Waterfowl Symposium is a free event and will take place on Saturday February 1st and will include a full slate of activities, including panel discussion on blue-winged teal and wild rice ecology and management.
I had the chance to speak to Dale Eggert from the Minnesota Waterfowl Association about the discussions and wondered if we’d see an early teal season this year or not. Because we are considered a breeding state for blue-winged teal, the US Fish and Wildlife Service hasn’t wanted to open an early season.
“That’s my understanding,” Eggert answered. “We are considered a breeding state and there has been some reluctance to move into an early teal season here. That is one of the discussions that is going to be happening on the 1st by Steve Cordts from the Department of Natural Resources. He’s going to present some pros and cons and get some input from hunters and researchers to gauge where the Department of Natural Resources will be going with that.”
Despite the early freeze up that pushed most ducks out of the state around Thanksgiving, there were huntable numbers of northern mallards around parts of the state that still had open water. Would a longer split or special zones make sense in areas where these ducks stayed for nearly a month after the season closed?
“That’s one of those things that we encourage people to come to the symposium and talk with the group about. The Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources, along with the DNR Commissioner will be there (to hear) what hunters are looking for to improve or enhance our waterfowl seasons in 2014 and beyond,” Eggert added.
We discuss the duck seasons further on this week’s Minnesota Sporting Journal Radio show. We also talk about wild rice and how its management in Minnesota affects the waterfowl population.
“The reason that topic is coming up is that we know that wild rice is very important to our breeding population of ducks here in Minnesota, but way more important when those migrating ducks come here,” Eggert continued. “The better the rice stands we have throughout the state the better duck populations we’ll have and keeping ducks around here during migrations.”
The symposium will also include a session with Michael Furtman featuring waterfowl photography at 1:30 and a question and answer with DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. There is also an Awards Dinner and induction to the MN Waterfowl Hall of Fame that tickets will need to be purchased for. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 952-767-0320.
The symposium also coincides with the Annual MDCA Decoy Collectors show that starts on Jan 29th. Thousands of decoys are expected to be on display, including decoys made 100 years ago to decoys made last week. The artistry on these decoys are in a class of themselves.
On Friday the decoy show is only open to members, so you’ll need to pay to get in, but Saturday is open to the public. Visit www.mndecoycollectors.com for more info.