Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn.

October 13, 1997

Waterfowl season underway

The weather we were begging for in July finally arrived as hunters across the state were greeted by sultry 80-degree temperatures and sunny skies during Minnesota's opening weekend of waterfowl hunting.

In general, and from reports across the state, duck and Canada goose hunting was good.

For many hunters, the number of ducks present and the number of birds harvested was not as high as expected, but considering the bluebird weather, hunters weren't complaining.

Like most openers, teal, wood ducks, and mallards made up a majority of the bag. Although, according to a few hunters, including myself, mallards were surprisingly scarce in some areas.

Another surprise was the number of green-winged teal in our area. Typically, blue-winged teal are far more abundant than green-wingers. But this year, several hunters had just as many green-wingers in their bag as blue-wingers.

Also, hunters from across central and southern Minnesota noted a very large number of cormorants on sloughs and lakes. The sloughs, which were relatively small, that we hunted on Saturday and Sunday were full of the black fish-eaters. The area I hunted near Winsted on Monday morning also carried a large number of cormorants.

For the most part, duck hunting got off to a good start. The numbers of waterfowl was up, and so was the number of hunters. If the weather is consistent and there aren't any drastic changes or huge storms that push all the ducks to the north of us through our state in one or two days, the hunting through out the season should be very good.

Wood Lake, Minn.

Old friends with lots of stories, an old farm site with a corn crib converted into a duck hunting shack, plenty of teal, and very hot weather.

That was the scene for eight of us hunting the Mohwinkel farm near Wood Lake, about 20 miles west of Redwood Falls. Most of us are old high school buddies and the stories were flying faster than the blue-wingers buzzing through our decoys.

The weather was hot, humid, and fairly calm during the weekend hunt. Ducks were there in fair to good numbers, mostly teal and wood ducks, with a few mallards, and our party shot surprisingly well.

We bagged a total of 36 ducks in the two days; 22 on Saturday, and 14 on Sunday morning. Rollie Radtke of Lester Prairie and I, with my dog Tucker, hunted out of the same blind and we shot a perfect six-for-six on Saturday. Bagging six teal with six shots.

The other guys got all the big ducks, but we had a sound excuse. Teal are harder to hit and better to eat. Actually, the sunburn gleaming off Rollie's big arms probably kept the woodies and mallards out of our decoy spread.

Teal were abundant, woods seemed to be a bit down from last year, and mallard numbers were pretty slim on the two sloughs we were hunting. There were a few flocks of local Canadas around and cormorants were thicker than anyone in the party can ever remember.

Although this was only my second trip down to the Wood Lake area farm, the sense of waterfowl hunting tradition is deep. The old corn crib, converted into a hunting shack with bunks, boat and decoy storage, and mice is a classic.

The Mohwinkel family and the friends they invite have developed a strong waterfowling tradition that is great fun to be a part of and one that I'm sure will last longer than the converted corn crib.

Locally

On Monday morning, in the midst of a thunderstorm and occasional downpour, I set up a decoy spread on a small lake in the Winsted-Howard Lake area and the hunting was good.

There weren't a lot of ducks flying, but the ducks that were in the air did decoy. There were a few other hunters on the lake and from the shots heard around me, there seemed to be a good amount of hunters in the area.

Several small flocks of teal visited my decoy spread along with one small flock of woodies and one drake mallard. I ended the morning hunt, which I considered to be excellent, with two green-winged teal, two blue winged teal, one drake wood duck, and one young mallard drake. The other hunting party on the lake bagged three wood ducks, one teal, and one monster honker.

Other reports from our area were generally good. Some hunters noted a lack of mallards, while other local hunters bagged their limit of french ducks. Hunters on both forks of the Crow River reported stiff competition, but excellent shooting on wood ducks.

A couple of area waterfowlers noted that Monday's storm put a lot birds in the air and that the storm may have pushed most of the local ducks out. If that is the case, waterfowling could be slow in our area for awhile, or least until a good stiff wind pushes some birds down from the north.

If we're lucky, this year's migration will be scattered, with ducks coming down on a consistent basis throughout the next month or so and not riding on one big storm that pushes all the ducks though in a few short days.

As far as the rest of the season goes, the ducks are there, and the weather will have the greatest affect on the hunting, even if it's a sunburn from your buddy's arms that's scaring away the ducks.

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