Minnesota Waterfowl Migration and Hunting Report October 16, 2014 The following report is a compilation of state and federal wildlife manager reports and waterfowl surveys from across Minnesota. This is the 4th report for 2014. 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. Hunters can also view waterfowl counts from the Upper Mississippi River in SE Minnesota at: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Upper_Mississippi_River/Fall_Flights.html General: 16 October 2014 Duck hunting was fair to good last weekend in most areas of the state but has been only fair since then with the mild temperatures and southerly winds. Diving ducks were more common in hunters’ bags this week as ring-necked ducks, canvasback and redhead abundance increased in many areas. A few wood ducks and bluewinged teal remain in southern Minnesota and a few late season migrants such as scaup and buffleheads have moved into the state. Tundra swans are also present in some locations. Canada goose numbers remain fairly low in most locations. NW Roseau Karlstad Thief Lake Agassiz NWR Baudette NC Crookston Tamarac NWR Park Rapids NE Grand Rapids Rice Lake NWR Fergus Brainerd Falls Aitkin Little Glenwood Falls Cloquet WC Big Stone NWR Cambridge Sherburne NWR Carlos Avery LQP Willmar Appleton Slayton Talcot Lake Sauk Rapids Swan Lake Windom SW C MN Valley NWR Upper Miss. Rochester Owatonna Winona SE Opportunities for field hunting should improve as more farmers begin to combine their corn fields this week. The weather forecast calls for a cold front to move into the state by Friday. Highs are expected to be near 50 in the north and mid 50s in the south on Friday and Saturday, with strong NW winds on Friday. The forecast into next week calls for warmer temperatures by Monday and mild temperatures all of next week with no precipitation. The outlook for this weekend is good as the cold front should move some migrant waterfowl into the state. Reminders: Duck season dates: North Zone: Sept. 27-Nov. 25 Central Zone: Sept. 27-Oct. 5 and Oct. 11-Nov. 30 South Zone: Sept. 27-Sept. 29 and Oct. 11-Dec. 6 Canada goose season dates Sept. 27-Dec. 25 Sept. 27-Oct. 5 and Oct. 11-Dec. 30 Sept. 27-Sept. 29 and Oct. 11-Jan. 5 Bag limits are 6 ducks/day, with no more than: 4 mallards (2 hens), 3 scaup, 3 wood duck, 2 pintail, 2 redhead, 1 canvasback, 1 black duck. Mergansers: 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 and end at sunset the remainder of the season. Motorized decoys are prohibited on state wildlife management areas the entire season. The sandhill crane season is open until Oct. 20 in the Northwest zone only. Bag limits are 1/day and a sandhill crane permit is required. Open water hunting: On Lake Pepin, Lake of the Woods, Lake Mille Lacs, and Lake Superior, open water hunting is 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 2014 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 Roseau River WMA North central Grand Rapids Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Thief Lake is at target level, and access is good from all boat launches. Bulrush cover is widespread, but Phragmites cover grew through deep water for much of the summer, and is sparse in places. Food is available for both marsh and field feeding birds. South winds have slowed the movement of birds into and out of the area. Winds are projected to be strong out of the NNW as we move towards the weekend which should result in the arrival of new birds. Temperatures are expected to drop Friday and remain cool through the weekend. Hunter success has decreased since last Friday when hunters saw an average of 3.0 ducks per person. Hunter success on Sunday and Tuesday were 1.53 and 0.92, respectively. Ringnecks continue to be the number one bird in the bag followed by redheads. CHZ use picked up over the weekend. A blue goose was taken on Saturday. Roseau River WMA: Shallow Friday’s forecast is for a stiff NW wind and Hunting activity throughout the backwater areas of the Roseau falling temperatures, so some movement of birds Roseau River work area River are abundant. The wild into the area is expected. continued to be light during the rice in Pool 2 continues to hold past week. 40-50 hunters/day mallards. Goose and mallard use of the WMA is somewhat were hunting on the unit over the diminished from a week ago. Ring-necked duck last weekend. Access to the pools and the numbers continue to be impressive on the pools. Roseau River is good. Duck hunters averaged 3.4 Snow goose numbers increased noticeably in the ducks/hunter last weekend at Roseau Lake WMA: Very little Roseau Lake area and near the City of Roseau in RRWMA. Ring-necked ducks waterfowl use noted in the past the past week. and mallards were dominant in week. the bag and comprised 75% of the harvest. A few wood ducks Grain stubble remains are still showing up in the bag, abundant in the area and a few scaup have begun to surrounding these 2 WMAs. appear in the bag as well. Water levels are stable and food conditions have not changed. The weather has been fairly stable with above normal temps. No significant migrations noted. Hunting activity appears to be normal for the time of year. Some areas are providing good success. Area Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Rice Lake NWR Water levels are near normal. 50% of the wild rice is laying over in water Lake, stream, and wetland water levels appear near normal. All areas are navigable. Small grain fields have been harvested and many have been tilled. A few corn fields are beginning to be harvested. Some rice stands are starting to deteriorate. Near shore vegetation is in good shape. Water levels are normal in most locations of the Brainerd work area. Food & feeding conditions are still favorable. Water levels have stabilized. Wild rice is still present on area wetlands providing good foraging for birds Over 200,00 Ring-necks this week No waterfowl hunting on the RLNWR Southerly winds have produced mild temperatures this week. A cold front is expected by the weekend bringing with it more seasonable temperatures and NW winds. No major migrations have been noted but new birds continue to trickle into and out of the area. Ringnecked duck numbers have increased and are the most prominent species using area lakes and rivers with a mix of other species including some mallards, redheads and canvasbacks. Goose numbers remain stable. High: 48° -61° F Low: 24° - 42° F 0.08 in of rain in the last 7 days Hunting pressure has been average for this time of year. Hunter numbers are expected to increase over the upcoming MEA weekend. Most hunters who have been out are finding opportunities to harvest birds. Recent weather has returned to norms for this time of year. A small influx of divers has been noted. Most of the teal and larger numbers of wood ducks have moved out of the area. Hunting pressure is beginning to decline but there is still moderate weekend pressure. No bag checks were completed but reports from the area have been good with hunters reporting 1-3 birds per outing and decent opportunities. Water levels are still about normal. Wild rice is starting to break down and open up. Relatively stable and mild conditions over the last week. No notable migration activity reported. A cold front is approaching this Friday and Saturday that could get some birds moving. Hunting pressure is relatively light. Hunters are having some success with mallards, ring-necks and green-wing teal the most common birds right now. Park Rapids Brainerd Mille Lacs WMA Northeast Cloquet No major migration noted. Hunter pressure seems to be down. Area West Central Detroit Lakes Tamarac NWR Fergus Falls Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Wetland conditions remain good; rainfall has been sparse the last two months. Wild rice stands were spotty this year. Small grain harvest/tillage complete. Soybean harvest is 80% complete with tillage close behind. Expect corn harvest to begin this weekend. Good numbers of migrant divers passed through the area on 10/11 and 10/12. Numerous flocks of canvasbacks and redheads observed, along with buffleheads, a few scaup, and the first goldeneyes of the season. Coot numbers continue to build on select area lakes. Some field feeding mallards observed this week in silage fields, but for the most part mallard numbers are lower than anticipated. Blue-winged teal are essentially gone along with many of our local wood ducks. Canada goose numbers are unchanged from last week. Fair amount of duck hunters out this past weekend. Success was spotty, but heard numerous reports of parties of hunters shooting their canvasbacks and redheads, but not seeing many other species to finish out their bag. Divers were more prevalent in the bag last weekend, with ring-necks, redheads, canvasbacks, and buffleheads common, along with mallards, green-winged teal, and wood ducks. A few geese also continue to be taken as fields open up. Weather conditions this week have been warm with highs in the 60s; extended forecast shows a cool front moving in tomorrow with strong NW for Friday and Saturday which should move some birds. Warm temperatures return early next week. The rice beds continue a slow Picked up about 0.1” of rain over the weekend. deterioration. Water levels are No significant waterfowl migrations of note but stabilizing and beaver activity there are huge flocks of blackbirds in the area. is increasing. One flock heading to an evening roost stretched for more than a mile and was followed by several smaller flocks. (Reminded one of an old Alfred Hitchcock movie.) Soybean harvest more than Southerly winds and warm weather likely slowed 50% complete, some corn migration but a good number of divers including harvest underway. Water levels redheads, canvasbacks and ring-necked ducks in in more permanent wetlands area along with some mallards. Few new geese still high despite recent dry with goose numbers relatively low. spell. Hunting pressure remains steady. Several hunters reported taking single black ducks during the last two weeks, one was on refuge, one was off refuge. Good numbers out on Saturday, the start of the “second opener” and generally success was good. Lots of shooting heard around Fergus Falls with reports of good success, particularly for divers. Area Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Glenwood Water levels have begun to drop with the dry weather but still remain high Low duck and goose numbers are the normal across the work area. There are a few pockets of geese in large enough numbers to be hunted; scouting and private land permission will be needed to be successful on the geese. Weather has been warm and dry for the most part. Most of the ducks that arrived earlier with the front during the week of 10/6 have moved out and very few new ducks seem to have arrived with the warm weather. Light to no pressure on weekdays and some activity on weekends, success to those that have gotten out has been spotty. Water levels are being lowered in the Sunrise Pools to bring them down to normal fall levels before freeze-up. Levels in the other pools are still high. Flooded crop fields are drying up. Bean harvest is in full swing with corn harvest about 10% complete. Mild weather this week has meant little change in Ring-necks have replaced teal in the duck population. There has been a significant the bag, along with a few increase in coots on the area. mallards and wood ducks. Central Carlos Avery WMA Sauk Rapids Cambridge Sherburne NWR Canada geese numbers have been increasing in the area at a moderate pace. There have been a few reports of more diver duck movement through central MN. Canvasback/redhead harvest is picking up on larger shallow lakes. Hunters are commenting that they are seeing more mallards in full plumage. Water levels are decreasing. Although there hasn’t been a large influx of Bean and Corn harvest is migrant birds, some northern birds have been increasing. Both large flocks of observed. Species surveyed in the area this week geese and mallards have been include mallards, wigeon, green-winged teal, observed feeding in cut fields. redhead, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, and scaup. No change in water levels from Approximately 4,000 coots were seen on our the previous week. main reservoir, St. Francis Pool. Hunter activity has slowed, but the die-hards are scouting and finding decent hunting. Most successful hunters are going out on windy days. Hunting pressure has been low in the area since the central zone reopened. Hunters interviewed reported lower duck numbers in the area and low hunting success. There were 5 vehicles parked at the Long Pool parking lot this morning. One duck hunting party reported seeing very few waterfowl. Area Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Southwest Swan Lake (Nicollet) Redwood Falls Marshall Same habitat conditions, dry with crops starting to be harvested It has been reported that the migration is in full swing with reports of diving ducks and green winged teal moving into the Northern part of the Nicollet Area. The central and Southern portions have seen an increase in Mallards and Swans tipping us off to new birds entering the area. Area wetlands have good water Blue winged teal have moved out of the area, but levels. Soybean harvest is 80% recent migrants, including gadwalls and pintails, complete, corn 20-30% and have replaced them. Wood ducks are still progressing rapidly. Tillage is present, and mallards have increased slightly. beginning. Small numbers of migrant Canada geese seen. Coots present in large numbers on better quality wetlands. Unseasonably warm weather in the middle of the week will be replaced on Friday by northwest winds and seasonable temperatures, likely continuing the migration flux. Good overall. A few local No major migrations noted this week. There are a basins are in drawdown. few less teal and wood ducks but a wide variety Soybean harvest about 75% of other species are in the area, including some complete and corn harvest has divers. Weather for the duck re-opener was begun. Fall tillage continues. mostly clear, highs around 60, light south winds Saturday morning, but stronger south winds in the afternoon, and gusting to 30 mph on Sunday afternoon. Outlook for this weekend is sunny with highs in the mid 50’s Sat and mid 60’s on Sun with lows above freezing and southerly winds. No new reports on hunter success. Only one hunting report, hunters averaged three ducks apiece, mostly mallards with a few pintails and Canada geese thrown in. Good hunter participation and success on Saturday morning but many left the marsh early to pursue pheasants. Some hunters were also out for a late hunt taking advantage of the sunset closure. Although mallards and teal (both blue and green-wings) still dominant in the bag and wood ducks still around, hunters had more of a mixed bag compared to the opening weekend with reports of redheads, shovelers, gadwall, wigeon, pintail, scaup and ringnecks taken. Duck hunting reports weren’t as good on Sunday. Area Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Lac qui Parle WMA Marsh Lake and Upper LQP Lake - water levels at normal pool. Temps slightly above normal for this reporting period and predominately south winds. Little precipitation. Moderate hunting pressure and success on Marsh Lake on Saturday with lighter pressure on Sunday. Divers and puddle ducks present but not in huge numbers. Cattail and sedge cover in good No migration to report. Duck species shape on Marsh Lake; cattail composition the same as last report. Canada and sedge cover in the Twin goose numbers are very low over wide area. Bridge area a little thin. Canada goose numbers on the Lac qui Parle State Habitat west of Marsh Lake Game Refuge around 500 geese. backwater channels and impoundments holding water. Soybean harvest approximately 70% complete; no corn harvest yet. Lac qui Parle Controlled Goose Hunt - the controlled hunt starts this Thursday, 16 October. A significant number of changes have been made most noticeably blinds are now available first come, first serve. A 15 page Lac qui Parle Goose Hunting Guide has been developed and contains just about everything hunters need to know relative to hunting geese on the refuge including detailed maps. This guide is on the same page as the migration reports - see section on geese. Hard copies will be available at our office and outside after business hours. Currently goose numbers are very low on the refuge and harvest opportunity will be very limited. Standing crop around certain blinds will be an issue too. Quite frankly - hunting geese on the refuge is now a November and December phenomenon based on migration chronology that has developed over the past 10 years. Area Habitat conditions Waterfowl migrations and weather conditions Hunter Activity and Success Willmar Wetland water levels continue to be in good shape. 40%-50% of soybeans have now been taken out with harvest activity going full force. Area weather is now in a mild mode with above normal temps. and southerly winds in the forecast for next several days with highs in the 60s and lows in 40s or high 30s. No new migration taking place at this time, and would not expect any in the near future. Some leftover ringnecks and redheads in a few places. Hunter activity and success has dropped way off at the present for waterfowl. Pheasant hunting has been poor as well. The second opener in southern Minnesota was mild and sunny with light winds. Clouds and and showers moved in on the 12th and 13th producing widespread precipitation. The wet weather was chased out by very strong northwesterly winds on the 14th. Numbers of Canada geese, coots, mallards and several other mid-season migrants such as green-winged teal, gadwalls, redheads, canvasbacks, and buffleheads have started to arrive. Good numbers of wood ducks remain in the areas. Blue-winged teal numbers are dwindling, but they are still common in good habitats. Hunting pressure was high on opening weekend and into the early part of the week. Most hunters had a successful second opener. Bag reports indicate an average of 1 – 2 birds per hunter with a mixed bag and some limits reported. Blue-winged teal, mallards, green-winged teal and wood ducks were the most common birds taken. Goose hunting activity has also picked up some. Windom Marshes and water levels still good. Bean harvest in full swing and nearing completion. Corn harvest started. Tillage underway on harvested acres. MEA happens this week so more hunters should be in the field but one would expect poor results. Low for Sat, 10/11 around 27degrees. Most duck hunter success was Occasional frost on mornings since then. No fairly low on the weekend of Oct significant precip in last week. Many coots 11th. Bag was very mixed, with coming into the area starting around 10/10. Most both divers and dabblers. Duck blue-winged teal appear to have left the area. A hunter numbers were low, few ring-necks showing up with the coot influx. possibly electing to pursue Overall duck numbers still relatively low. pheasants. Southeast Owatonna Water conditions are good in most of our area. Drier conditions prevail in northern and western sections. Lake levels are generally at typical fall seasonal lows. Bear and State Line Lakes near Emmons are drawn down for habitat rehabilitation and access is difficult. Soybean and corn harvest is well underway opening up field hunting opportunities. Waterfowl Count Data, week of October 13, 2014. 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 NORTH Thief Lake WMA NS 3,000 3,100 NS 18,000 14,000 Beltrami/Clearwater counties 10/13 200 1,500 500 1,100 5,000 6,000 Rice Lake NWR 10/15 360 1,700 1,500 500 250,000 177,000 Tamarac NWR 10/15 160 120 150 50 31,000 36,000 Sherburne NWR 10/15 30 1,900 1,700 5,000 8,500 11,000 Carlos Avery WMA 10/15 15 120 80 120 800 3,300 3,000 Brainerd 10/13 5 20 130 50 500 800 300 500 500 12,000 82% RN, 18% MAL 12,000 33,000 93% RN, 7% MAL 20,000 CENTRAL 250 97% RN, 2% MAL, 1% RED 2,000 34% GWT, 30% WD, 12,000 18% RN, 15% MAL, 2% BWT 65% RN, 26% MAL, 6% WD, 1% CAN 5,000 41% WD, 33% RN, 17% MAL, 6% MERG 1,800 SOUTH Lac qui Parle WMA 10/14 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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