Minnesota Waterfowl Migration and Hunting Report – 14 November 2013 The following report is a compilation of state and federal wildlife manager reports and waterfowl surveys from across Minnesota. This is the 9th report for 2013. Reports will be compiled weekly throughout the hunting season and should be available by Thursday afternoon each week. The Conservation Officer Report, available on the DNR web site, also contains information about waterfowl hunter success across the state. General: 14 November 2013, 4:00 p.m. Duck hunting was good in most locations at the end of last week and over the weekend but few waterfowl hunters were out to take advantage. Fair numbers of mallards and other late season migrant ducks moved into the state over the weekend, but by Tuesday morning, most of the state was ice-covered except for the very large lakes and many ducks migrated south. Canada goose numbers also increased with notable migrations of geese on Saturday and Monday and goose numbers remain fair to good in western Minnesota. NW Roseau Karlstad Thief Lake Agassiz NWR Baudette NC Crookston Tamarac NWR Park Rapids Grand Rapids Rice Lake NWR Fergus Brainerd Falls Aitkin Little Glenwood Falls Cloquet WC Big Stone NWR NE Cambridge Sherburne NWR Carlos Avery LQP Willmar Appleton Slayton Talcot Lake Sauk Rapids Swan Lake Windom C MN Valley NWR Upper Miss. Rochester Owatonna Winona SW SE Some limited open water hunting opportunity still exists on some large lakes in the North Duck zone. Many lakes in the Central and South zones could re-open by this weekend. Field hunting opportunities are excellent in most areas with most of the crop harvest completed. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 30s in northern Minnesota and mid to upper 40s in southern Minnesota until Sunday. Some rain/snow is expected statewide both Saturday and Sunday. A cold front is expected to move into the state late Sunday with strong northwest winds and much colder temperatures into early next week. Most lakes are likely to be frozen by early next week. The weekend outlook is fair and is the last weekend of duck hunting in the North Duck zone with the season ending next Tuesday (Nov. 19). Duck season remains open in the Central zone until Nov. 24 and the South zone until Dec. 1, but duck hunting opportunities may be limited by that time. Reminders: Duck season dates: North Zone: Sept. 21-Nov. 19 Central Zone: Sept. 21-Sept. 29 and Oct. 5-Nov. 24 South Zone: Sept. 21-Sept. 29 and Oct. 12-Dec. 1 Goose season dates Sept. 21-Dec. 16 Sept. 21-Sept. 29 and Oct. 5-Dec. 21 Sept. 21-Sept. 29 and Oct. 12-Dec. 28 : Bag limits are 6 ducks/day, with no more than: 4 mallards (2 hens), 3 scaup, 3 wood duck, 2 pintail, 2 redhead, 2 canvasback, 1 black duck. Merganser: 5 per day, no more than 2 may be hooded mergansers. Canada goose bag limits are 3/day. Possession limits: 3 times the daily bag limit for all migratory birds. Shooting hours begin ½ hour before sunrise until sunset the remainder of the season. Motorized decoys are prohibited statewide on state wildlife management areas the remainder of the season. Open water hunting: On Lake Pepin, Lake of the Woods, Lake Mille Lacs, and Lake Superior, open water hunting will be allowed as long as boats remain anchored. On the Mississippi River south of Hastings, hunting is allowed not more than 100 feet from any shoreline, including islands. Hunters should consult the 2013 Waterfowl Hunting regulations (available from license vendors or online at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/hunting/index.html) for additional details and regulations. Safety Never Takes A Holiday: treat every gun as if it were loaded, be 100% certain of your target before pulling the trigger, wear your life vest, pay attention to other hunters and your hunting partners, and watch the weather. The following is a summary of pre-season waterfowl habitat and hunting conditions from various reporting stations across the state. Area Northwest Thief Lake WMA North central Grand Rapids Park Rapids Brainerd Northeast Cloquet Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success The lake is frozen over at this point. A few flocks of geese are present. A couple parties reported using the CHZ on Saturday 11/9 with success goose hunting. Most shallow and intermediate water bodies froze over the weekend. Lakes and rivers that are still open may have frozen in access points. Upcoming moderating temps may change this for the weekend. Many lakes and some rivers are ice covered. Some large lakes remain open but ice has formed around most shorelines making access difficult. Corn continues to be harvested but many fields remain un-harvested in the area. Temperatures were in the low teens on 11-11 and 12. Overnight lows are forecast to moderate the next few days with highs in the 30s and 40s. Most any ducks dependent on wild rice have left. Goldeneyes and common mergansers are in the area. Low hunting activity due to frozen water. Very cold weather in the single digits the past couple nights have created icy conditions on most lakes across the area. Migrating flocks of Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, and some ducks were seen over the weekend and early this week. Diving ducks, coots, and mallards remain on some of the larger lakes in the area but in low numbers. A few thousand geese are using the Park Rapids Refuge and are field feeding mornings and evenings. Coots & Ring-necks have moved on. Mallards & Canada Geese still around. Small numbers of Goldeneye moving into area & congregating on larger bodies of water. Temperatures: High 24 - 41°F Low 10-33° Precipitation: none Very few waterfowl hunters have been out. Ducks and geese are restricted to bigger lakes or rivers right now as everything else is frozen. Hunting pressure is very low due to deer hunting and ice. Wetlands and small lakes are mostly frozen over, making food sources unavailable. This happened on 11/11 and 11/12. The smaller lakes are all frozen. Fair amount of waterfowl hunting activity noted last week end. No bag checks taken. Most small lakes were open yet. Major freeze took place on 11/11 – 11/12 driving a lot of birds out of area. Area West Central Glenwood Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Most wetlands and small lakes have 100% ice cover Some good numbers of Geese and mallards remain on Almost no hunting pressure this past the larger bodies of water but most hunting week; ducks could be found on opportunities will be on fields. smaller wetlands but very few people took advantage of them. Most of the freeze up at this point occurred Monday night moving the ducks out of the area or to the large bodies of water. Most ducks gone. Some mallards around mixed with Few hunters out with deer season geese. No goose count completed but thousands of last weekend. Duck numbers were geese around Orwell, Fergus Falls and Carlisle area. good during week but few took Goose hunting opportunities likely at peak right now. advantage. Fergus Falls All but big lakes frozen over. Central Carlos Avery WMA All pools were frozen on Tues. morning 11/12. Hunter Activity and Success Geese and swans were migrating south on Monday. Low temps in the teens have frozen all the pools. Very few ducks or geese remain. Water levels are about average for A significant number of Canada geese have been this time of the year. observed foraging in crop fields throughout the area. No waterfowl hunters have been out. Most wetlands and shallow lakes are frozen over in the Cambridge area. Duck numbers have decreased because of the reduction of open water. Some mallards have been observed. Hunting success is also considered low at this time, because of the low waterfowl numbers. Swan Lake (Nicollet county) As reported before. Continues to be some ducks to shoot if you can find open water. Slayton Wetlands and lakes froze up, 3in. of ice earlier this week. Crop harvest nearly complete. Cold weather has brought ice and late season species. Some pockets on lakes remain open and the Minnesota River is open and being used by late season migrants such as mallards and diving ducks. Swans are still in the area along with geese and ducks. More geese and mallards have shown up this past week. Most other ducks have left the area. Cold temps have most of the wetlands and lakes frozen. Warmer weather expected later in the week, should open up the lakes and a few wetlands. Cambridge Hunting pressure is low throughout the Cambridge area. Southwest Hunting activity for ducks has continued to be slow. Area Habitat conditions Lac qui Parle WMA Significant movement of ducks into the area on Marsh Lake and Lac qui Parle Lake – completely ice covered the Saturday (9 Nov) and an even more substantial morning of 12 November. movement of ducks, primarily mallard, again on Monday (11Nov). Based on forecast I believe these lakes and even larger wetlands Largest influx of Canada geese this season also may reopen before the weekend. occurred on 11 November. The goose count in the refuge now stands at 41,000 Canada geese. Numbers No snow. should continue to build throughout November based on recent migration patterns. Crop harvest complete. Talcot Lake WMA Willmar Southeast Almost all of the crops have been harvested. Talcot Lake is frozen over with the ducks and geese keeping a small hole open on the north end of the lake. The Des Moines river was frozen over yesterday but is open today. Corn has been going down this past week and now only 5-10% remains standing. Heavy ice formed on all but the large, deep fish lakes. Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Not much has changed since last week. The majority of waterfowl migrated through the area prior to weekend of the 9th with very little additional activity noted through the weekend. Major cold came on the 11th with low of 6 degrees and cold on the 12th, forming heavy ice. Some ducks and geese using the big, open fish lakes, but for the most part, migration has been completed through this area. Weather has now moderated to slightly above normal highs and some wetland areas may reopen. 9,000 Canada geese sitting on Foot Lake in Willmar. Hunter Activity and Success Ducks – very good hunting on Saturday and again on Monday with strong NW winds and new birds arriving. It appears most birds moved through the area quickly. Ice forming all day on Monday and by Tuesday morning complete ice cover. I expect most of Marsh and Lac qui Parle Lakes to reopen, but uncertain how remaining ducks will redistribute or if new ducks will arrive with next cold front. Geese - State Game Refuge –little hunting pressure in the state blinds or private land. I would expect success and hunter numbers to increase with the addition of new geese. With ice on the lake evening hunting tends to be better. Hunting activity has been slow for geese. There were some duck hunters out before everything froze up. One needs to scout for open water areas holding birds. Very limited water sites for hunting and finding field feeding mallards and geese would be a better bet. With the firearms deer season beginning last weekend, waterfowl hunter numbers and success were way down in the area. Area Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Owatonna Ponds and shallow lakes froze over. Some lakes are reopening with warmer temperatures. Deep basins remained ice free. Less than 20% of the corn remains to be combined and the majority of harvested and fallow fields are tilled. Temperatures have been making wide swings from Hunting activity is moderate to light near to above normal for the season to very cold and and success has been poor to fair. back again. Scaup, tundra swans, buffleheads and other late migrants moved through with the Armistice Day cold front. A few flocks of snow geese have been seen. A snow storm dropped about 2” of snow on the morning of the 11th. Overnight lows in the single digits and highs below freezing formed about 2” of ice on shallow water areas by the morning of the12th. Most ducks left the area with this freeze. Goose numbers have been lower than average for this time of year as well. Warmer temperatures are beginning to reopen some lakes as of the 14th. Waterfowl Count Data, week of November 11, 2013 Canada geese Ducks a Number seen : Area Date Swans this week This week Last count Number seen: Last year This week Last count Last year This weeks duck Species - % b composition Coot this week Comments NORTHWEST Thief Lake WMA Frozen NORTH CENTRAL Brainerd 11/12 0 70 50 20 300 6,300 500 50% MAL, 31% GOLD 14% HOOD, 5% SCP 0 CENTRAL Carlos Avery WMA Frozen SOUTHWEST Lac qui Parle WMA 11/13 0 41,000 20,000 49,000 Murray County lakes & wetlands 11/14 0 2,400 1,400 4,400 1,200 300 2,500 100% MAL 0 a - Numbers seen during the current survey, last survey: the previous count from this year, last year: the number recorded during the same or nearby week last year. b - abbreviations: MAL = mallard, GAD = Gadwall, WIG = Am. wigeon, GWT = Am. green-winged teal, BWT = blue-winged teal, SHOV = Northern shoveler, PIN = Northern pintail, WD = Wood duck, RED = Redhead, CAN = Canvasback, SCP = Scaup, RN = Ring-necked duck, HOOD = Hooded merganser, NS = No survey.
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