Doug Smith

Even if the fish aren’t biting, the ducks aren’t flying and the pheasants aren’t flushing, Doug Smith says any day spent outdoors is a good day. A Minnesota native, he’s been covering the outdoors for the Star Tribune since 1995. He considers walleyes fried over a campfire to be gourmet cuisine.

An early teal season could be coming for Minnesota hunters

Posted by: Doug Smith Updated: February 1, 2014 - 2:31 PM

An early September teal season could be coming next fall for Minnesota duck hunters.

"There's a very high probability of having a teal season,'' said Steve Cordts, Department of Natural Resources waterfowl specialist.

Teal and a potential teal season were among the topics Saturday at the Minnesota Waterfowl Association's 17th annual Waterfowl Symposium in Bloomington, attended by about 100 people.

The bag limit likely would be six teal, and the DNR might ask to also allow one "mistake'' duck.

The DNR is expected to ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to authorize a September season, which has long been offered in other states. Federal officials probably won't decide until June.

Minnesota hasn't had a special teal season because it's a teal-production state.

But the continental blue-winged teal population has been at record highs recently at around 8 million to 9 million, and wildlife officials have said the population could sustain a higher harvest.

Though federal officials allow 16-day teal seasons elsewhere, Cordts said a Minnesota season likely would be nine days or less, and probably would begin the first weekend in September.

But if it comes, it will raise other issues, such as concern that a teal hunt would disturb other waterfowl before the regular season. Also an early teal season could kill Youth Waterfowl Day, which in Minnesota has been held two weekends before the regular opener.

"There's a possibility we'd drop it,'' Cordts said.

An early season also could conflict with wild rice harvesters, Cordts said.

Other topics at the Waterfowl Symposium included wild rice management, duck migration research using radar, waterfowl photography and duck decoy collecting.

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