State duck stamp sales totaled 46,001 last week, compared to 44,479 for the same period last year. And youth small game license sales with federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification — needed to hunt waterfowl — totaled 7,194 this year, compared to 5,879.
Meanwhile, DNR officials expect hunters to find ducks on Saturday — the earliest duck opener since the 1940s —because wood ducks and teal, early migrants, should still be abundant.
"A pile of ducks are coming down from Canada and they are going to be more concentrated this year because of less water across the landscape," said Steve Cordts, the DNR’s waterfowl specialist. "Somewhere someone is going to have the best duck hunting they’ve ever had."
The DNR issued 89,520 state waterfowl stamps last year, up from the previous year but below the 100,000-plus licenses sold from 1990 through 2007.
DNR has split the state into three hunting zones with different dates as part of an effort to provide additional hunting opportunity as birds migrate from north to south. By adding a third zone in southern Minnesota the hunting season now extends through the first weekend in December.
"There’s a lot of opportunity this year," said Cordts. "The duck hunter who moves around the state can hunt for more than 70 days."
The DNR will post a weekly waterfowl migration report each week during the duck season. The first report should be posted by early Friday at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/waterfowl.