The Best MN Waterfowl Opener
By PJ Maguire
The noon opener of the Minnesota duck season was the hardest thing for me to wait for when I was young. Typically this would be the first time I hunted waterfowl for the year. Now-a-days I am accustomed to hunting in the early goose seasons that are provided in Minnesota and other states, and Minnesota has moved the opening day shooting time from noon to nine a.m. on waterfowl opener.
In my older age, I have found that traveling to neighboring states is one way to help curb the pressure of the Minnesota goose opener. This past year I was fortunate enough to hunt Canada geese on the August 15th opener in North Dakota. By the time the Minnesota September 6th opener rolled around I had already harvested a limit of geese, cleared the cobwebs out of the Berretta autoloader, and dusted off the decoys.
For the 2008 Minnesota early goose opener, my friend Matt Gouette and I decided to I try a new area. The goose hunting was not very good, evening though we did a lot of pre-hunt scouting. When trying a new area, you never really know how it is going to be until the hunt is over. We unfortunately discovered that there was a lot more hunting pressure in the area then we anticipated.
Being in my late-twenties I enjoy traveling and am lucky enough to have a job that requires doing some for business. Typically, I am not one that mixes business with pleasure. However, when the opportunity arose for me to do some sales calls in Omaha in mid-September I jumped at the chance.
I set the trip up for the end of the week, just before the second weekend of the Nebraska early teal season. It took me only one phone call to my good friend J.D., of Omaha, and I was in for my first teal season hunting experience. Teal hunting is something I have wanted to do for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I have harvested plenty of the small waterfowl in Minnesota and the Dakotas during regular waterfowl seasons. I just have wanted to participate in as many special waterfowl seasons as possible; especially when I have the opportunity to hunt ducks in September, before my home state opener.
The teal hunting in Nebraska was excellent. It also was the perfect opportunity for my young pup Stella to participate in her first duck hunt. In Nebraska, it rained a ton and we ran into a few other hunters, but still managed to shoot limits of birds 3 out of 4 days. With Stella having retrieved almost all the teal – and I having sharpened the eye on those quick flyers – we were ready to wait for the nine o’clock Minnesota opener shotgun start.
No pressure openers are the best; it’s like a baseball player coming to bat late in the game with a big lead. Hypothetically, you step to the plate and swing away. One does not worry about shooting his or her first goose or duck of the season. Birds are just an added bonus, as it should be.
So I had a few geese under my belt when the season started in Minnesota, and got my fill of teal in Nebraska as the birds started on their early migration. All of which led to relaxing and a care-free Minnesota opener that was complimented by laughs, coffee and wet labs. In 2008, we had one of the best duck openers ever on the small lake my parents cabin is on. Four of us harvested 16 ducks, eight of which were mallards.
Having been born in Minnesota, currently living here and having cut my teeth hunting and fishing in the state, I will always cherish Minnesota outdoors. I still enjoy hunting in other states and trying to get a better grasp of the game while learning new tricks to bring back home. Ducks and geese like everything else in life consistently evolve and hunters need to change their tactics.
In 2008 I purchased hunting licenses in five states and hunted birds in all of them. From Missouri where a six-dollar Migratory Bird Hunting stamp allows you to hunt snow geese in the spring season – to North Dakota where one hundred and twenty five dollars gets you fourteen days in the fall – I have enjoyed sunrises with a scattergun. Enjoying a lot of season openers along the way.