The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 22, 2013

Ducks, water scarce in SW Minnesota on opener


Since teal are some of the earliest waterfowl to migrate from Minnesota, we presumed these were migrants taking advantage of the brisk, chilly northwest wind, the result of the weather change earlier in the day.

After scouting the area, we decided we could reach a good hunting area by making a short hike along the edge of the lake.

At 6:15, Saturday morning, duck and goose decoys placed, we tucked back into the high-and-dry cattails and waited for legal shooting time.

In the pre-dawn, a couple of teal settled briefly into the decoys, milling nervously before once again taking flight, vanishing into the fog that hung in the still air.

Legal shooting time finally arrived, heralded with the boom of distant shotguns.

A few minutes later, against the eastern sky, the silhouettes of four Canada geese loomed, heading straight for our set-up.

In range, they banked to the left. “Let’s take ‘em,” I said to my hunting partner. Shotguns boomed.

All four birds continued flying untouched as we exchanged excuses for our poor shooting.

Over the course of the morning, shotguns boomed sporadically to our north where several Wildlife Management Areas dotted the countryside.

To our south, where we could hear another party calling to what we presumed to be passing waterfowl, the guns were silent.

And mostly, so were ours.

Early on, a few teal ripped past us from behind, our middle-aged reflexes too slow to catch up with the speedy birds.

Finally, a trio settled into the decoys. I stood and scratched one as it flew dead-away.

Later, I tumbled one from the pair that sped by, left to right.

But apparently the hundreds of teal we had seen loafing on the lake the previous afternoon had headed for warmer climes.

Two teal, along with a lone mourning dove that VanThuyne tagged as it settled onto the mudflat, were the extent of our opening day action.

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