DNR announces fall duck and goose seasons
Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season will open a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 26, with similar bag limits and season dates that were in place last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“While the season structure is similar to recent years, we adjusted the duck season dates in the south duck zone based on hunter preferences,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.
The waterfowl seasons are based on a federal framework that applies to all states in the Mississippi Flyway.
More information on duck, goose, sandhill crane and other migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2015 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in mid-August in booklet form and online at http://www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.
Duck seasons and limits
Duck season will be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones.
In the north zone, duck season is Saturday, Sept. 26, through Tuesday, Nov. 24.
In the central zone, duck season is Saturday, Sept. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 4, closes for five days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 10, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 29.
In the south zone, duck season is Saturday, Sept. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 4, closes for 10 days, then reopens Thursday, Oct. 15, and runs through Friday, Dec. 4. The re-opening coincides with the annual statewide teachers’ conference on Oct. 15-16 when many schools do not schedule classes.
The only bag limit change from the 2015 season is for canvasback, which increases from one to two per day. The daily duck bag limit remains six ducks per day. The mallard bag limit remains four per day, including two hen mallards. The daily bag limits remain at three for wood duck and three for scaup.
All states in the Mississippi Flyway were offered the option for a September teal season or two bonus blue-winged teal during the regular season. Minnesota did not participate in either teal option last year and again made the choice not to take a teal season or bonus blue-winged teal option this year.
“We’ve had nearly two decades of liberal duck seasons with 60 days of hunting and six-duck daily bag limits,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “In recent years, the duck season has opened one week earlier than in the past, which has afforded Minnesota hunters more opportunity to take teal and wood ducks.”
In addition, waterfowl hunting in open water on five large water bodies in Minnesota has also been allowed.
“For these reasons, we don’t believe that an early teal season or further liberalization by adding two bonus blue-winged teal to the daily bag for the first part of the season is needed,” Landwehr said.
Mallard abundance from a continental spring survey that includes Minnesota is used to determine overall duck season length. This year’s estimate was 11.8 million mallards, which was well above the long-term average. Since 1997, duck season length has been 60 days each year and the mallard population has ranged from 6.8 million to 11.8 million mallards.
“The status of mallards, and most other species of ducks important to Minnesota hunters, is very good this year based on spring populations surveys,” Cordts said.
Youth waterfowl day
Youth Waterfowl Day will be Saturday, Sept. 12. Hunters ages 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by an adult age 18 or older. Youth may take Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens from a half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken statewide. The accompanying adult can’t hunt ducks that day and does not need a license. However, an adult may take Canada geese if properly licensed.
Canada goose seasons and limits
Canada goose hunting is open in the three duck zones, and also in an intensive harvest zone. For a map of the intensive zone and other information, see http://www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.
The August Canada goose management harvest is Saturday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 23, in the intensive harvest zone only. The bag limit is 10 per day. A $4 permit is required. This is the third year Canada goose harvest has been allowed during August due to high populations of Canada geese and the damage they cause to agricultural crops.
The early September Canada goose season will open statewide on Saturday, Sept. 5, and run through Tuesday, Sept. 22. Bag limits for Canada geese are 10 per day in the intensive harvest zone and five per day in the rest of the state. A $4 permit is required to hunt Canada geese during the September season. The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the northwest goose zone, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, Ocheda Lake Game Refuge and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Early season goose hunters should consult the 2015 Waterfowl Supplement for zone maps and additional details.
Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 26, with a bag limit of three dark geese per day the entire season. “Dark” geese include Canada geese, white-fronted geese, and brant. Goose season will be closed in the central and south duck zones when duck season is closed.
Sandhill crane season
The season for sandhill cranes is Saturday, Sept. 12, to Sunday, Oct. 18, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only. The daily bag limit will be one sandhill crane per day. A $3 sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license.