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Hunting: Minnesota waterfowl seasons open Sept. 27

Young mallards and common mergansers share a resting spot Thursday along the Mississippi River near Bemidji. Secluded areas will be coveted by the birds on Sept. 27 when the Minnesota waterfowl hunting seasons open. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s waterfowl seasons will open a half-hour before sunrise on Sept. 27, under a similar season structure to last year, with similar bag limits and with season dates that vary for north, central and southern zones.

The waterfowl seasons are based on a federal framework that applies to all states in the Mississippi Flyway.

“While the season structure is similar to recent years, there is an adjustment in the duck season dates in the south duck zone,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.

In the south duck zone, hunting opens for three days from Sept. 27, through Sept. 29, and then closes. The season then reopens from Oct. 11, through Dec. 6.

In all zones, the daily bag limit remains at six ducks per day. The mallard bag limit remains at four per day, including two hen mallards. The wood duck bag limit remains at three per day. The only bag limit change from the 2013 waterfowl season is the canvasback limit, which decreases from two to one per day.

Minnesota and three other states in the Mississippi Flyway had the option of including two additional blue-winged teal in the daily bag limit (bonus blue-winged teal).

“We thought the risk that green-winged teal might be taken by mistake was too great,” said Paul Telander, DNR wildlife section chief. “In addition, we did not get a chance to survey waterfowl hunters or take any form of public input related to bonus teal. We plan to do that within the next year.”

Mallard abundance from a continental spring survey that includes Minnesota is used to set overall duck season length. This year’s estimate was 11 million mallards, which was similar to last year’s estimate of 10.8 million mallards and well above the long-term average.

In another measure of Minnesota duck populations, a population index of resident breeding mallards was down slightly from last year, but 13 percent above the long-term average.

“Continental breeding duck numbers were good this year, and following heavy rains in the spring, wetland conditions in the major waterfowl breeding areas were favorable,” Cordts said.

Duck seasons

In the north duck zone (north of Highway 210), the duck season will run from Sept. 27, through Nov. 25.

In the central duck zone, the duck season will run from Sept. 27, through Oct. 5, and Oct. 11, through Nov. 30.

In the south duck zone (south of Highway 212), the duck season will run from Sept. 27, through Sept. 29, and Oct. 11, through Dec. 6.

Youth Waterfowl Day will be Sept. 13.

Canada goose hunting

Canada goose hunting is open in the three duck zones, and also in an intensive harvest zone. For a map of the intensive zone and other information, see

The August Canada goose management harvest opened Aug. 9, and runs through Aug. 24 in the Intensive Harvest Zone only. The bag limit is 10 per day. A $4 permit is required. This is the second year Canada goose harvest has been allowed during August due to high populations of Canada geese and agricultural crop depredation.

The early September Canada goose season will open statewide on Sept. 6, and run through Sept. 22. Bag limits for Canada geese are 10 per day in the Intensive Harvest Zone and five per day in the remainder of the state. A $4 permit is required to hunt Canada geese during September season. The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the Northwest Goose Zone, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, Ocheda Lake Game Refuge, and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Early season goose hunters should consult the 2014 Waterfowl Supplement for zone maps and additional details.

Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 27, with a bag limit of three Canada geese per day the entire season. Goose season will be closed in the central and south duck zones when duck season is closed. In the north duck zone, goose season will run from Sept. 27, through Dec. 25. In the central duck zone, goose season will run from Sept. 27, through Oct. 5, and Oct. 11, through Dec. 30. In the south duck zone, goose season will run from Sept. 27, through Sept. 29, and Oct. 11, through Jan. 5, 2015.

Sandhill crane season

The season for sandhill cranes will run from Saturday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Oct. 19, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only. The daily bag limit will be one sandhill crane per day. A $3 sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license.