Sales of Minnesota duck stamps and goose permits are at record lows despite widespread reports of good hunting over the season’s opening weekend.
Steve Cordts, waterfowl staff specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said the dip in participation is in keeping with an overall languishing trend in the sport throughout the Upper Midwest.
Through Sunday of opening weekend, 62,177 hunters held Minnesota duck permits, down 3.7 percent from the previous record low for the period set last year. Canada goose permits numbered 23,139 in Minnesota through Sunday, down from 26,478 last year.
“There’s a very high correlation between sales through opening weekend and total sales for the year,’’ Cordts said. “During the 1970s, we averaged 140,000 [duck] stamps sold for the season and we’ll be lucky to reach 80,000 now.’’
Cordts said waterfowl hunters at Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area — 7 miles west of Forest Lake — experienced a strong opener by bagging 2.5 ducks per hunter. In previous years, bag counts at the refuge averaged under a duck per hunter, he said.
“Overall, I think it was an above average opener,’’ Cordts said.
In Brainerd, DNR conservation officer Tim Collette saw good numbers of hunters and a fair amount of ducks.
“The majority of the bags consisted of wood ducks and teal, with a few mallards added in,’’ Collette wrote in his weekly report.
In Glenwood, conservation officer Daniel Baumbarger reported that hunters in his area averaged three birds per bag.
South of the Twin Cities in Zumbrota, lots of shooting by duck hunters meant lots of success.
"Wood ducks, mallards and pintails were seen in the bag with teal being the most common,’’ conservation officer Kylan Hill reported.