2022 small game survey results available
The number of small game hunters in Minnesota in 2022 was similar to the previous year but continued to trend below the 10-year average. Overall, 228,143 small game licenses were sold for the 2022-23 hunting seasons, compared to 233,901 small game licenses sold in 2021-22. Notably, hunters who did pursue waterfowl, grouse and pheasants had fairly similar success rates compared to the 10-year averages, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ small game hunter mail survey.
The annual survey estimates harvest and number of hunters for two dozen species. The survey asks small game license buyers if they hunted, what species they hunted, how many days they spent hunting, and the number harvested per species.
Highlights of the 2022 results for approximate harvest, hunter numbers, and success include:
- Ducks – 81,864 state duck stamps were sold, which was 3% below 2021 sales and 8% below the 10-year average. Harvest of 470,300 ducks, down 32% from the 10-year average of 693,600 ducks. There were 45,200 hunters, which was 35% below the 10-year average of 69,900 hunters. Eighty-three percent of hunters were successful, bagging 12.6 ducks on average, which was greater than the 10-year average of 11.7 ducks.
- Canada geese – Harvest of 127,500 geese, down 48% from the 10-year average of 245,500 geese. There were 27,200 hunters, down 42% from the 10-year average of 46,800 hunters. Hunter success was 71%, with successful hunters bagging 6.6 geese on average, which was similar to the 10-year average.
- Ruffed grouse – Harvest of 237,700 grouse, which was 10% below the 10-year average of 264,200 grouse. An estimated 64,600 hunters pursued grouse in 2022, 14% below the 10-year average of 74,800 hunters. Hunter success was 69%, with successful hunters bagging 5.4 grouse, which was similar to the 10-year average of five grouse.
- Pheasants – 77,448 pheasant stamps were sold in 2022, which was similar to 2021 sales and the 10-year average. Harvest of 204,000 roosters, which was similar to the 10-year average of 201,600 roosters. There were 52,300 hunters, which was down 9% from the 10-year average of 57,500 hunters. Hunter success was 68%, which was similar to the 10-year average, but successful hunters bagged 5.8 roosters compared to the 10-year average of 5.2 roosters.
The results from duck and pheasant stamp sales reflect that some hunters may have a hunting tradition and bought duck or pheasant stamps, and then ultimately did not go hunting last year. To help get more hunters afield, the DNR has been working to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters in a variety of ways that aim to get more of these hunters afield. Examples include the Take a Friend Hunting campaign with Pheasants Forever and sharing tips through weekly skills webinars.
The complete small game hunter survey report is on the Minnesota DNR website.
Cisco and whitefish sport netting to open on northern lakes
Recreational netting for cisco, also referred to as tullibee, and whitefish is open this fall on designated lakes. Whitefish and cisco sport netting is open to Minnesota residents only and about 700 Minnesotans participate each year. Netting schedules are based on expected water temperatures. As the water temperature cools, game fish head to deeper water while cisco and whitefish come to shallow water for fall spawning.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources allows netting when there is little chance that fish other than cisco and whitefish will be caught. Game fish incidentally taken in nets must be returned to the water immediately. Complete regulations, including designated lakes, netting schedules and requirements related to use of gear and invasive species, are available on the Minnesota DNR website.
Deer carcass movement restrictions in place in 13 deer permit areas
Deer carcass movement restrictions are in place for 13 deer permit areas located in southeastern and north-central Minnesota and the south metro area.
DPAs 604, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 655, 661, 679, 644 and 684 together form the chronic wasting disease management zone. Hunters are not allowed to bring whole deer carcasses outside the management zone until a “not detected” test result is received. The restrictions apply to all deer, including fawns. Hunters are allowed to move whole deer carcasses in between contiguous disease management zone DPAs.
If hunters do not submit their deer for sampling or want to transport it outside the CWD management zone before getting a test result, they must debone or quarter their deer, properly disposing of the head and spinal column inside the zone. Meat and quarters with the main leg bone can leave the zone immediately. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides dumpsters for hunters to use to help facilitate carcass disposal.
These restrictions are part of a comprehensive strategy to keep Minnesota’s deer, elk and moose healthy by limiting the spread of disease. Hunters can find details for the DPA in which they hunt by visiting the Minnesota DNR’s CWD webpage and using the “find the requirements for your DPA” tool.
Winner chosen for pheasant and turkey stamp contests
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has chosen winners for the Minnesota turkey and pheasant stamp contests.
Shakopee artist Mark Thone won the Minnesota pheasant stamp contest with an acrylic painting of a pheasant. The winner was selected on Sept. 28 from seven eligible submissions. Second place was Stephen Hamrick of Lakeville; third place was Mike Zillgitt of Pine Island. The winning artwork will be featured on the 2024 pheasant stamp.
Lakeville artist Stephen Hamrick won the Minnesota turkey stamp contest with an acrylic on illustration board painting of a wild turkey. The winner was selected on Sept. 28 from 10 eligible submissions. Second place was Michael Sieve of Rushford; third place was Sam Larsen of Bemidji. The winning artwork will be featured on the 2025 turkey stamp.
The pheasant stamp and turkey stamp can be purchased in combination with hunting licenses or as collectables. Visit the Minnesota DNR stamp webpage for more information about habitat stamps and contest guidelines.
Minnesota DNR webinars focus on fall turkey hunting and fall fishing tips
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites people interested in wildlife and outdoor skills to check out the fall program schedule for the Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series.
In a webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 4, Ryan Tebo, one of the Minnesota DNR’s turkey research experts, will discuss fall turkey hunting, how the fall hunt differs from spring turkey hunting, and what hunters should know before trying to bag a turkey in the fall.
In a webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 11, Minnesota DNR area fisheries supervisors and avid anglers Scott Mackenthun and Eric Altena will share several fishing secrets on where and how to catch a variety of fish in autumn including walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and lake sturgeon.
The Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series webinars are free and offered year-round, though registration is required. Visit the Outdoor Skills and Stewardship webpage of the Minnesota DNR website for the registration portal, more information about upcoming webinars and recordings of past webinars.