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Hunters have little success
Doug Smith, Star Tribune
September 29, 2004 DUCKS0929

Telander was talking about the waterfowl hunting action Saturday at the Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area in northwestern Minnesota, where he is wildlife manager.

But he could have been summarizing the opener statewide.

Reports from Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and wildlife managers paint a generally bleak picture of hunter success, with a few exceptions.

"We had good numbers of hunters, but they didn't do really well," Telander said. A hunter survey showed about 0.7 ducks per hunter on Saturday. Hunters averaged 1.7 ducks on Monday.

Duck hunters did better at Swan Lake in southern Minnesota, another duck-hunting hot spot.

"I checked 316 hunters, and they had 591 ducks, or 1.87 ducks per hunter," said Joel Anderson, DNR Nicollet area wildlife manager. That's worse than last year, when hunters averaged 3.24 ducks on the opener, but better than the long-term average of 1.5 ducks per hunter since the 1960s.

Eighty-four percent of the harvest were blue-winged and green-winged teal, 9 percent mallards and 3 percent wood ducks. Anderson estimated there were 800 to 900 hunters on the big lake, and he figures they killed 1,500 to 1,700 ducks.

Here's a snapshot of how the duck opener went in other areas, based on DNR conservation officer reports:

Baudette was moderate to slow, with large numbers of Canada geese, and spotty near Blackduck. Success was "very poor" in the Crookston area, but hunters shot a lot of geese. The Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Pelican Rapids and Osage areas were generally slow.

The Henning, Elbow Lake and Alexandria areas were very poor. However, hunting was very good to above average in the Wheaton area, where hunters averaged three ducks. And many limits were reported in Big Stone County. The Glenwood area was "less than spectacular" and Osakis was "marginal."

The Wadena area was mixed; some hunters did poorly, others did well. The Ray, Orr, Cook, Tower and Hibbing areas were poor. Hunters were "quite successful" in the Duluth area. Action was slow near Crosslake, McGregor, Mille Lacs and Brainerd.

Princeton, Buffalo and Cambridge areas were slow, but good numbers of ducks were reported in the Mora and Center City areas. Several hunters bagged limits near Waconia.

Hunters had mixed success near Hastings, but shot limits of ducks near Worthington. Action was spotty near Ortonville, slow near Slayton, but better near Redwood Falls.

Hunters averaged fewer than two ducks near New Ulm. Success was fair near Faribault, low near Waseca and poor to fair near Albert Lea. Hunters averaged about one duck near Rochester and about two ducks near La Crescent. "Duck hunters report the worst opener in memory," wrote a conservation officer at Winona.
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