Hunters have a new opportunity to harvest up to six teal during an experimental five-day early teal season and shooting hours will continue until sunset rather than ending at 4 p.m. during the first portion of Minnesota’s waterfowl hunting season.
Other changes to waterfowl hunting regulations for the 2021 season include increasing the bag limit for dark geese from three to five per day, reducing the 12-day season split in the south zone to a five-day split and opening four areas where over-water goose hunting was restricted.
Waterfowl hunting season dates this coming fall will be:
Saturday, Sept. 25, through Tuesday, Nov. 23 in the north zone.
Saturday, Sept. 25, through Sunday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 28, in the south and central zones.
A five-day early teal season from Saturday, Sept. 4, through Wednesday, Sept. 8, will allow an additional opportunity to hunt teal that otherwise would have migrated south by opening day of waterfowl season on Sept. 25. Hunters may shoot up to six birds. Blue, green-winged and cinnamon teal may be taken in any combination from sunrise to sunset during the experimental early season.
“There was some concern expressed about establishing an early teal season so the experimental approach the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires allows the DNR to carefully evaluate impacts,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We’ll assess the season this year and can renew it for up to two years.”
The DNR does not anticipate that this increase in harvest will negatively impact the teal population or hunter experience on opening day but will carefully evaluate season results and gather additional public input to guide future decisions on continuing the early teal season.
Goose hunting changes allow hunters to take up to five Canada, white-fronted or Brant geese in any combination each day. Over-water hunting in September, which has been in place for most of Minnesota already, now is allowed in the Carlos Avery and Swan Lake wildlife management areas as well as the Ocheda Lake game refuge and the northwest goose zone.
With the exception of the early teal season, waterfowl season changes the DNR made this year eased or removed regulations that were implemented long ago. Considerable research, topical outreach and public engagement efforts to gather information and ideas were critical parts of the process. Those efforts included an online survey, direct staff outreach, a hunter attitude survey and public comments on proposed regulations.
“Hunting is only one aspect of waterfowl management in Minnesota,” Cordts said. “Our work to conserve, improve and acquire waterfowl habitat has a more significant impact on waterfowl populations and the land’s ability to support them.”
Initial details of the 2021 waterfowl regulations including a zone map are available online at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl. Information about waterfowl management in Minnesota is available at mndnr.gov/waterfowl.