Minn. duck hunting is slow
Duck hunting in Northeastern Minnesota ranges from dismal to spotty to decent, depending on whom you talk to. It's typical to have a lull between opening weekend and the first push of northern ducks, and that's where we seem to be now. Perhaps th...
Duck hunting in Northeastern Minnesota ranges from dismal to spotty to decent, depending on whom you talk to.
It's typical to have a lull between opening weekend and the first push of northern ducks, and that's where we seem to be now. Perhaps the northwest winds late this past week will have moved some ducks in by the time you read this.
"It's spotty," said Linda Loucks at God's Country Outfitters north of Grand Rapids. "Some (hunters) are getting some good shooting, but it's being in the right spot at the right time."
As always, the hunters who scout and scheme and get out a lot are doing better.
"The real dedicated hunters are smiling," Loucks said.
Mike Johnson of Glen's Army Navy in Grand Rapids said the opener (Sept. 24) was good, but since then, it's been tougher.
"As of now, it's kind of dwindled down," Johnson said Thursday. "My dad has been going out and getting some non-local ducks, like redheads and some canvasbacks."
This weekend's forecast of colder weather could be what duck hunters are looking for, Johnson said.
"I haven't seen anything come down from north yet," he said. "Maybe if we have a couple of cold days, they'll be pushing down."
Warren Kregness, 80, of Superior said duck hunting at his duck camp near Nature's Lake (formerly Squaw Lake) has been very unproductive.
"It's terrible," Kregness said of the season so far. "This has been a disaster."
He hunts at a camp called Birdwatchers that goes back to the Congdon family, Kregness said. A number of duck camps with lots of Duluth duck hunters are located on the lake.
"Eight guys shot seven ducks on the opener," Kregness said of his camp. "The next day, nothing."
That's almost unheard of for Nature's Lake.
"There's been no ducks," Kregness said. "Last weekend, we didn't go. The winter ducks will probably come down during deer season."
Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said that clear skies and warm weather have kept migrant ducks hanging farther to the north than usual.
"But with the colder weather, hunting should improve as the number of migrating ducks grows," Cordts said.
Cass Lake will open to spearing
Cass Lake will be open to darkhouse spearing when the season opens on Nov. 15, according Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials.
Spearers and anglers are reminded that the possession limit for northern pike, the most common target of darkhouse spearing, is three with only one longer than 30 inches. Residents ages 16 to 64 and all nonresidents must have a darkhouse spearing license and an angling license.
Diminishing CRP lands affect pheasants
Twenty years ago, the Conservation Reserve Program had strong legs in Minnesota, covering more than 1.7 million acres with native grass that provided pheasants with the food and cover they need, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Today, that number has shrunk to 948,000 acres. Soon, it could drop more. That's because 550,000 acres of existing CRP contracts are scheduled to expire during the next three years.
"CRP was born in 1985 and now, 26 years later, it's waning," said Bill Penning, farmland wildlife coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "If the declining enrollment trend continues, Minnesota's ability to grow wild birds, reduce soil erosion and provide clean water and other conservation benefits will be further reduced."
Penning said about 120,000 acres of Minnesota CRP and other farm program grasslands have been converted to cropland since 2007.