Location, location, location — the mantra for real estate also applies to duck hunting. Minnesota hunters who were in the right spot in the state on the opener did pretty well, based on conservation officer reports.
Near Morris and Willmar, hunters averaged three birds in the bag. Hunter success was moderate to good near Grand Rapids, and more ducks than usual were reported in the Duluth area.
At Center City north of the Twin Cities, hunters averaged about two birds. Hunting was very good near Marshall, in the southwest, with numerous six-bird limits seen, mostly teal. Hunters also did well near Ortonville and Benson.
In the southeast, hunters averaged three birds near La Crescent, 2.5 ducks near Wabasha, and two ducks near Winona.
At famed Swan Lake, hunter success was down significantly from last year. A DNR survey showed 144 hunters averaged 1.6 ducks each, compared to 2.9 per hunter last year.
“Overall, it was a pretty average opener,’’ said Stein Innvaer, DNR assistant area wildlife manager near Swan Lake. “Blue-winged teal led the list, as you’d expect, with wood ducks second.’’
Very few mallards, ringnecks or gadwall were seen. But habitat conditions are excellent, he said.
“There’s some good shooting to come,’’ Innvaer said.
Stamp sales rise
State waterfowl stamp sales are up slightly from last year — continuing a two-year trend. Hunters bought 70,389 state waterfowl stamps through the weekend, about 1,155 (1.6 percent) more than the same time last year. Still, sales are down by about 8,300, or almost 11 percent, from 2007.
Fishing license sales
Minnesota’s fishing license sales have rebounded nicely after being hurt by a cold, wet spring.
Through Labor Day, the DNR sold 1.007 million fishing licenses, down about 38,000, or 3.6 percent, from the 1.045 million sold during the same time last year. That’s also down about 41,000 or 4 percent from the nine-year average.
Sales were down 21 percent in June but only 9 percent in July. While sales have picked up, the 38,000 fewer licenses sold represents a loss of at least $836,000 in revenue for the DNR.