Early waterfowl opener proves a good one in region

Just about everything played into the favor of waterfowl hunters on the opener last Saturday and rewarded those who were ready at first light.

NEW LONDON — Waterfowl hunters enjoyed one of the better openers in recent memory, with reports of limits filled and lots of action being the norm in the region.
Jeff Miller, assistant wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in New London, said he heard from many hunters in the area who had a big day on Saturday. The action slowed on Sunday.
He noted that quite a few hunters told him they packed up by mid-morning on Saturday, their limits filled.
The same was true on Marsh Lake, where John Wollenberg and Dan Zimmerman with the DNR’s Lac qui Parle wildlife office surveyed hunters. They were still tabulating the numbers when reached earlier this week, but said it was apparent that hunters enjoyed a good opener.
Wollenberg said he believes the average tally will be just over three ducks per hunter.
The number of hunters on the popular waterfowl hunting lake was up as well.
Blue winged teal, mallards and wood ducks comprised the majority of ducks taken in all locations. .
The DNR was aiming for a good opener when it set the opening date about two weeks earlier than normal. The earlier start gives hunters more opportunity to harvest local ducks before they migrate out.
The decision to allow the opening shooting to start one half hour before sunrise, instead of 9 a.m. as had been the case in previous years, benefited hunters too.
Most of all, the weather played right into the hands of hunters on Saturday. A cold front moved plenty of waterfowl into the area. The blustery, northwest wind and cloud cover made for ideal conditions.
The drought conditions also dried up many smaller wetlands and served to concentrate the waterfowl.
The action has slowed since the opener, and the lull is likely to persist. The forecast calls for continued mild weather without the cold fronts needed to move new birds into the area this week.
The split season means that waterfowl hunting (duck and goose) will be closed from Monday Oct. 1 through Friday, Oct. 5 in the central zone south of Minnesota Highway 210 and from Oct. 1 through Oct. 12 in the southern zone south of U.S. Highway 212.

– Tom Cherveny