On a rainy waterfowl season opening day Sept. 21, the number of hunters at bag check stations in the Grand Rapids area dropped 24 percent from the five year average, and hunter success was mixed.
"This year’s steady drizzle and occasional downpour really made things tough for some hunters," said Mark Spoden, Grand Rapids area wildlife manager for the Department of Natural Resources. "Most of those who did brave the rain ended up coming off the water early."
DNR wildlife staff conducted waterfowl bag checks on opening day, on Mud Lake and Big White Oak Lake, (near Deer River) and Big Rice Lake near Remer. Wildlife staff also conducts car counts at these lakes to determine hunter numbers.
Hunter success on the opener was above average on Mud Lake at 3.7 ducks per hunter and slightly below average at Big White Oak at 1.8 ducks per hunter. Success was much lower than average at Big Rice at 0.6 ducks per hunter. Over the last five years, combined hunter success on these lakes has averaged around two ducks per hunter.
"Hunter bag checks are one way we monitor hunter success and satisfaction, and it helps us get a general sense of how area duck numbers are doing locally as wild rice and other conditions change annually on these lakes," Spoden said.
Combining results for all three lakes, ringneck, mallard, and wood duck, followed by blue-winged teal, were the most common birds in the bag.
The duck bag limit is six ducks daily and may not include more than any combination of the following: four mallards (two hen mallard), three scaup, three wood ducks, one pintail, two redheads, two black duck, and two canvasback. If not listed, up to six ducks of a species may be taken. The daily bag limit for coot and moorhen is 15. The daily bag limit for merganser is five, no more than two of which may be a hooded merganser.
More information about waterfowl hunting in Minnesota, including weekly waterfowl migration reports can be found at online on the waterfowl hunting page.