Minnesota's 2002 duck season will begin Sept. 28, maintaining the tradition of opening on the Saturday closest to Oct. 1.
Minnesota is one of a few states that will not take advantage of an expanded season offered this year by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said DNR Wildlife Division Director Tim Bremicker. The new framework would have allowed Minnesota to open the duck season on Sept. 21.
"The proposal for such an early date stirred a lot of concern and controversy among Minnesota waterfowlers," Bremicker said. "As a result, we decided to continue this year with our traditional opening date."
Public comments weighed heavily in the decision to maintain a traditional opening date, Bremicker said.
"It would have been the earliest opening day in more than 50 years," Bremicker said. "It was clear to us that our hunters were concerned about losing late season hunting opportunities and the rich hunting traditions and experiences associated with an opening day near Oct. 1."
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day is Sept. 14, two weeks before the regular opener. Spinning-wing decoys are not allowed during the Youth Waterfowl Day hunt.
Although much remains the same in 2002, Minnesota waterfowlers will see some changes this year. Canvasback season is closed statewide, pintail season is reduced to 30 days and there are early season limitations on motorized decoys.
Duck season is Sept. 28 to Nov. 26. The proposed daily bag limit is six and cannot include more than four mallards, only two of which can be females, three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads and one black duck. One pintail is allowed from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27. Possession limits are twice the daily bag limits. Except for opening day, when shooting hours are noon to 4 p.m., shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday, Oct. 5, and from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset from Oct. 6 through the close of the season.
Decoys with visible moving parts above the surface of the water cannot be used to take waterfowl other than geese on public waters from opening day of the duck season through Oct. 5. This includes "spinning wing" decoys. Swimming decoys, or "shakers," generally are not restricted under this law. Public water includes all water basins where the state or federal government owns any shoreline or provides public access, or basins listed in the Public Waters Inventory. County maps identifying public waters are available at all county auditors offices or on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Minnesota will conduct a study this fall on the effectiveness of spinning wing decoys.
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