Reporting Bill Hudson
HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — In weathered barns and city garages, duck boats are rolling out of storage.
For tens of thousands of Minnesota duck hunters, the coming opener is a bit like having Christmas in September.
“This is the best time of year for us,” said die-hard hunter Brad Nylin.
As executive director of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, Nylin is understandably excited about Saturday’s season opener. Ideal spring nesting conditions produced a bumper crop of ducks and that is promising a good season.
The only concern is the effects caused by the region’s widespread drought. It will certainly have an impact on exactly where hunters choose to hunt. Many traditional wetlands and potholes stand high and dry.
But as Nylin admits, that’s not all bad.
“[The ducks are] going to be more concentrated since there’s not as much type-one wetlands,” he said. “So it could be some very good duck hunting.”
New regulations set in place this year will also help. The daily bag limit of six ducks will include additional mallard and scaup ducks. The numbers of those species are up considerably.
Also in 2012, Minnesota is being split into three zones – north, central and south. That was done to allow for more hunting later in the season as ducks migrate south.
“That will really be an advantage for the late season hunter where a lot of times it’s just been frozen,” said Mike Kurre, of the DNR. “[They sometimes] haven’t been able to take advantage of the scaup or bluebills, or any of those late migrating birds.”
Kurre is the agency’s mentoring program coordinator and hopes the changes will also allow more youth to get the taste of fall’s finest tradition. That’s when decoys come out and ducks fill the autumn skies.
“I’m not packed yet, are you?” Kurre added, laughing.