If you're like me, you were stoked to hear the reports that came out this summer regarding this year's record duck population.
Saturday marks the opening of Minnesota's waterfowl season, so for me that means I'm itching in my seat as I write this. This afternoon I'll head north to a friend's 120-acre property (mostly water; see image below right) known as "The Compound," continuing an opening-day tradition that has been going steady for ... I think this will be the 5th year.
My 12-year-old brother and I had an excellent shoot last year, but I'm hopeful this will be the kind of opening weekend that dreams are made of. My brother took advantage of his apprentice license last year, allowing him to hunt for 1 year in Minnesota under the supervision of an adult. This year he's official: He finally completed his firearm safety course during the summer.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made some interesting, exciting adjustments to the waterfowl season this year. We can cut 'em 1 week early across the state, and we can shoot 1/2 hour before sunrise—as opposed to 9 a.m.—to 4 p.m. I'll admit, it's been tough watching 1,000s of ducks fly away before 9 a.m. on opening morning every other year. Also, in our zone (South Duck Zone), the season will open for 2 days (September 24-25), close for 5 days (September 26-30), and then re-open the following Saturday (October 1).
The DNR's thinking? Let hunters crush ducks and have a banner opener for 2 days (i.e. take advantage of wood ducks and teal—early migrators; increase hunter success; get more Minnesotans back into duck hunting). Then, give the ducks a rest (so they don't get completely slammed). Finally, let hunters get back at it on the traditional first weekend of October. My thought? I think it's a reasonable idea.
In the end, though, it will be duck camp as usual. The only other differences for me this year are that I'll be punishing the Remington Versa Max for the first time in duck sloughs, and hopefully I'll be able to confirm the positive hype surrounding Winchester's new Blind Side waterfowl ammo. Oh, and I've already started checking the waterfowl wind forecast with the SetZone tool in the new ScoutLook smartphone app. (It looks like the wind will be perfect for my intended Saturday morning setup!) Of course, none of that will matter much unless I'm shooting straight.
When does your waterfowl season start, and what's new for you this season? Share your comments in the box below.