When you think about the prairie pothole region, there is one state that seems to have been forgotten: Minnesota. While it’s true that much of the state’s habitat has been lost, there still remains some great duck hunting in Minnesota. Historically, the state of Minnesota has had the highest number of duck hunters in the country. Though this has been on the decline, the hunting has not. It has changed somewhat, but Minnesota still sees a very good migration every fall in addition to the local birds.
Where to hunt in Minnesota
While lots of people will target the western portion of the state, others stay close to the cities and opt for convenience. Regardless, if you are willing to look, you can find some decent hunting just about anywhere in the state. One of the first things to look for is habitat. The type of habitat is important to ducks, because this is their source for food and water. Typically ducks will use shallow water. They also like to feed in grain fields after they are harvested. One of the best ways to learn what habitat ducks like to use is to first find some areas that hold ducks in the off season and determine what the ducks like about these areas. You can then apply this knowledge when looking for places to hunt during the season.
When to duck hunt
The Minnesota duck season opens on the saturday closest to Oct 1 every year. The length of the season is set by the state DNR within the boundaries of the Federal Flyway Council, and can vary each year. Typically it is 30, 45 or 60 days in length. The season runs continuous with no splits, and has recently been the longer 60 day season, meaning the last day is somewhere around Dec 1. Hunting varies through the season, but the opening weekend is very popular and is often when most people have good success. However, hunting remains good through most of the season barring an early cold snap. As the water freezes, most if not all of the ducks will head south on their migration.
Strategies to Hunt Ducks
There are a number of ways to hunt ducks effectively, and there are different concerns and equipment used for each of these methods.
- Jump Shooting - Sneaking up on ducks and jumping up to shoot when you get close enough. Usually done on small ponds, or near the shore.
- Pass Shooting - Positioning yourself in a flyway where ducks are known to fly, or have been flying.
- Water Hunting - Setting decoys up on the water where ducks have been known to frequent.
- Field Hunting - Setting decoys up in a field where ducks have been feeding
All of these can be productive in the right situation. The most important factor for a good duck hunt is finding a place the ducks want to be.
Duck Hunting Equipment
Duck hunters are known for their enormous amounts of equipment and gadgets. Some of the most important things used are a shotgun (and shells), camoflage clothing, waders or hip boots, decoys - both field and floating, a duck boat, and a flashlight.
Duck hunting is a great way to spend time outdoors. It can be a challenge, but there’s nothing like the thrill of seeing feet down in the decoys. Good hunting!