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Good duck opener expected

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When Minnesota's waterfowl season opens on Saturday, September 22, hunting is likely to be pretty good.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that record continental duck breeding populations combined with low water levels across much of the state will work to the hunter's advantage.

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"A pile of ducks are coming down from Canada, and they are going to be more concentrated this year because of less water across the landscape," said Steve Cordts, the DNR's waterfowl specialist.

Cordts said the September 22 opener, the earliest since World War II days, will help hunters be more successful. Moreover, the DNR has split the state into three hunting zones with different dates as part of an effort to provide additional hunting opportunities as birds migrate from north to south. By adding a third zone in southern Minnesota, the hunting season now extends through the first weekend in December.

Cordts said that teal and wood ducks are migrating out of the state every day, but more of them will be around this weekend. He also noted that Minnesota has good numbers of molt migrant Canada geese moving into the state. These birds have not yet been hunted.

As of September 14, Minnesota duck stamp sales totaled 46,001 compared with 44,479 in 2011 for the same time period. Youth small game license sales with a Harvest Information Program certification totaled 7,194 this year compared to 5,879 last year.

Record continental duck breeding numbers, early openers this year, long seasons and other organizations' efforts to get kids outdoors are all likely factors in a spike in waterfowl hunting interest.

The DNR will post a weekly waterfowl migration report each week during the duck season. The first report should be posted by early Friday at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/waterfowl.

Waterfowl hunting regulations are available wherever DNR licenses are sold and at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.

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