DNR finalizes 1997 Minnesota waterfowl seasons

As expected, and previously announced, Minnesota duck hunters will have a 60-day season with a six-duck daily bag limit and goose seasons will be very similar to last year.

The youth waterfowl hunting day will be Saturday, Sept. 20. Hunters 15 years of age and younger can hunt ducks, coots, megansers, and moorhens when accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. The bag limit for ducks is the same as the regular season and shooting hours will be sunrise to 4 p.m. Geese may not be taken and accompanying adults may not hunt waterfowl on this day.

The regular season for ducks, geese and coots will open at noon on Saturday, Oct. 4 and there are a few changes to make note of before you hit the slough.

Geese may now be transported with just a fully feathered wing attached instead of wing and head and the 4 p.m. closure will be in effect for just the first eight days of the season, through Oct. 11.

Hunters in our area will find good hunting but they shouldn't be surprised when they don't see the number of ducks that everybody has been expecting.

In my opinion, duck numbers are up. However, the majority of them will be in areas like the Dakotas, and western Minnesota, where conditions for puddle ducks are ideal.

In our area water conditions are also very good for waterfowl, but when you compare inbetweeners to hundreds of potholes that are only a few inches to a foot or more deep, the ducks head to the potholes west of us.

Inbetweeners, are those bodies of water that are considered to be too deep for puddle ducks and not deep enough for fish. If you take a good look at a majority of the small lakes or bigger sloughs in our area, you'll find out they fit that bill.

I'll have more on local duck hunting in the weeks to come, and the 1997 duck and goose season dates, limits, and shooting hours are summarized below.

The 1997 duck and goose season dates, limits and shooting hours are:

1997 Duck Season

Dates and times for the 1997 Minnesota duck hunting season are from noon Saturday, Oct. 4, through sunset Tuesday, Dec. 2. Except for opening day, when shooting hours are noon to 4 p.m., shooting hours for all waterfowl will be from one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Oct. 11, and from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset beginning Sunday, Oct. 12, through the close of the season.

The daily bag limit of ducks is six, and may include no more than four mallards (only two of which may be female), three pintails, two wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck, and one canvasback. Possession limits are double the daily bag limits.

1997 Goose Season

In the Lac qui Parle and West Central zones, the 30-day season will open one week later than the rest of the state (Oct. 11-Nov. 9). The quota in the Lac qui Parle Goose Zone will be 16,000, the same as last year. In the West and Northwest Goose zones the season will be 40 days, from Oct. 4 - Nov. 12. The daily bag limit will be one Canada goose in these zones. Goose possession limits are double the daily bag limits.

In the remainder of the state, the goose season will be 70 days, from Oct. 4 - Dec. 12. The daily bag limit will be two Canada geese.

The December goose hunts in the Twin Cities Metro, Olmsted County, and Fergus Falls/Alexandria goose zones will be Dec. 13 - Dec. 22.

Seasons for snow, blue and Ross' geese will be Oct. 4 - Dec. 22. The daily limit will be 10 snow, blue and Ross' geese combined.

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