Duck hunters across Minnesota should have a good opening weekend across most of the state, the Department of Natural Resources reported today in its first migration and hunting report of the season. Blue-winged teal, wood ducks and mallards will dominate the bags in most areas, and ring-necked ducks should be fairly common across northern Minnesota, the DNR said.
Here’s a look at conditions at a couple of key northwest Minnesota wildlife management areas. To see the full report, click here.
Thief Lake WMA
Thief Lake is within an inch target level, and access should be 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 generally available for both marsh and field feeding birds. Wheat harvest is occurring in the area and stubble fields are available for field feeding birds.
Canada geese were observed arriving September 7-10. Since that time some birds have left and additional arrivals have come in.Local production of both geese and ducks was good in spite of high rains and water levels. Mallards have been observed field feeding over the last week.
Only 4 parties of Youth hunters participated on Youth Day, but they averaged 4 ducks per hunter, with dabblers predominating in the bag.
Early goose hunting picked up with the arrival of molt migrants the second week in September. Goose hunters have been hunting from the blinds in the CHZ and in WMA and private fields, and have had some success.
Roseau River WMA
Roseau River: Small grains harvest in the local area is late this year, making for an abundance of grain stubble fields nearby for foraging sites. Wild rice in Pool 2 is abundant in and near the Pool 2 Sanctuary. Pool water levels range from high on Pool 1 west to on target for Pools 2 and 3. Use of wheat in the Pool 3 Sanctuary by geese and cranes has been impressive at times.
The river is relatively low but navigable; access to river oxbows via watercraft will be greatly limited.
Roseau Lake: Sheet water is present in the deep spots of the lakebed and is serving as a roost site for mallards, Canada geese and cranes. Otherwise, most of the lake is dry. Stubble fields near the lake are abundant.
The weather is forecast to be warm with winds out of the south for the opener. We do not expect temperatures and winds to change appreciably over the next few days.
The first fall Canada geese arrived Sept. 3. Since then, several modest influxes have occurred. Canada goose numbers are good in the RRWMA work area for the opener. Birds are widely scattered; no appreciable concentrations are present, and patterns of use of fields for feeding have been very unpredictable. Small Canada geese and a few snow geese arrived about 1 week ago.
Duck production in the RRWMA work area was the best observed in about 20 years. Mallards, teal, and wood ducks are present in good numbers, and ring-neck duck numbers appear to be building. As with geese, ducks are widely scattered throughout the work area. There is some concentration of mallards in Roseau Lake. Sandhill crane numbers increased from the first week of September to present and are probably at peak numbers as of this date. As with geese & ducks, crane use of habitat in the work area is scattered and unpredictable.
Goose hunters who hunted in stubble fields near the 2 WMAs during the September goose hunt generally fared well. Pass-shooters had considerably less success. Hunting activity was moderate. Sandhill crane hunting in the vicinity of Roseau Lake WMA was good at times.
Thief River Falls area
Farmes Pool on Elm Lake WMA continues to be in drawdown this year in preparation for a prescribed burn. DNR staff hope to complete that burn in the next few weeks and begin putting water back in the pool. Lost River Pool and the pools on Eckvoll WMA and Pembina WMA all have high water.
Small grain harvest was late this year, with a few fields still unharvested, many with tubble and some that have been worked once. A few have been wrked twice. Soybean harvest will likely begin soon, a few may have already begun.
Large numbers of geese and mallards are field feeding around the Agassiz NWR/Eckvoll WMA/Elm Lake WMA area. Also observed a small flock of Sandhill cranes on Farmes Pool and have heard reports of good numbers of cranes around Agassiz NWR.
Highs for the weekend will be about 80 on Saturday, 70 on Sunday, and 65 on Monday. Lows in the 50s to around 60. Winds about 10 mph. Chances of rain are slight through the weekend – increasing some on Monday.