Duck hunting is expected to be good when Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season opens a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 21.

“We’re continuing to see favorable counts of breeding ducks in Minnesota and North America so we hope hunters enjoy what’s shaping up to be a great season,” said Steve Cordts, Department of Natural Resources waterfowl specialist.

This past spring, biologists estimated the total breeding duck population in Minnesota at 14 percent above the long-term average and nearly identical to last year’s estimate of 693,000 ducks.

The estimated number of wetlands was 19 percent higher than last year and 23 percent above the long-term average, reflecting the wet year. Wetland numbers can vary greatly based on annual precipitation.

The spring estimate for Canada geese was 110,000 birds, down 32 percent from last year’s estimate; however, reproduction during the spring and summer affects how many birds hunters see in the fall. Reproduction was good this year, so there are still plenty of geese around for hunters.

Duck seasons and limits
The duck season structure is similar to recent years. The waterfowl seasons are based on a federal framework that applies to all states in the Mississippi Flyway. Waterfowl hunting regulations are available wherever DNR licenses are sold and available online.

Duck season will be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones:

  • In the north zone, duck season is Sept. 21 through Tuesday, Nov. 19.
  • In the central zone, duck season is Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29, closes for five days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 5, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 24.
  • In the south zone, duck season is Sept. 21 through Sept. 29, closes for 12 days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 12, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 1.

The daily duck bag limit is six per day. The mallard bag limit is four per day, including no more than two hen mallards. The daily bag limits are three for wood duck and three for scaup; two for redheads, two for canvasbacks, two for black ducks and one for pintail.

The DNR will post a weekly waterfowl migration report each week during the duck season. The reports are typically posted on Thursday afternoon on the waterfowl hunting page.

Goose and sandhill crane seasons
Minnesota’s goose season will reopen in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 21, with a bag limit of three dark geese per day the entire season. Dark geese include Canada geese, white-fronted geese and brant geese. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20. Light geese include snow, blue and Ross’s geese.

The season for sandhill cranes opened Sept. 14, and remains open through Sunday, Oct. 20, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only. The daily bag limit is one sandhill crane per day. A $3 sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license.

More information on duck, goose, sandhill crane and other migratory bird hunting is available in the 2019 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations booklet from license vendors and online on the waterfowl hunting page.