This fall season has not been a banner year for most Minnesota hunters. Here we are in the middle of the firearms deer season and the hunting, particularly in the agricultural belt, has been poor at best – too much corn. Duck hunters have another week and a half for their season and it is much the same – temps too warm and ducks that apparently prefer the Dakota’s over Minnesota.
It has been an unusual fall for the Minnesota sportsman. Now that is not to say that some hunters have not been having success, but on the whole most sportsmen I talk to have not had by any means what you would call a banner year. If you are able to roust a pheasant or two…that has been the exception rather than the norm. It seems most duck hunters have been sitting in their blinds with everything looking right…except for the ducks that have put on a disappearing act.
I guess the frustrating thing for me is you spend a great deal of the year day-dreaming about successful days afield…then when it comes time to hunt those dreams just don’t seem to materialize the way you had them planned out. Moreover, as our lives get busier and busier with demands pulling us in every direction, it seems that days spent afield hunting come at a premium. That means when you are out toting a gun you want to see results in the bag, and this year that hasn’t always been happening.
I guess for me the biggest disappointment was last weekend during the firearms deer season. This was the first year I could remember when I never saw a deer…NOT A SINGLE DEER! I didn’t even have a few moments when I thought a deer was approaching and my pulse began to race…only to learn it was some corn-fed, overweight squirrel acting a bit heavy in its tracks. For me deer season was a complete bust and it certainly was not for lack of trying. Unpicked corn fields stood in the way of my putting venison on the table this fall.
Likewise, pheasant hunting has been a challenge with all the standing corn. You just can’t easily hunt a corn field for birds when most of the corn towers overhead by a good two feet. And heaven forbid you hunt with a partner, whom you likely cannot easily see, or a dog that will not be accustomed to such a man-made maze. Face it, pheasant hunting has not turned out to be quite what most of us were expecting. On the plus side, perhaps when most of this corn gets picked by mid to late November it could prove to be a bonanza for hunting during the second half of the season. Let’s hope so, anyway.
Personally I have not done any duck hunting this fall…but from the reports from friends it doesn’t appear I missed much. There were hunters I knew who played the role of hunters only to never see a duck. I guess the only good thing that can be said about this is most waterfowl hunters will be able to save on ammunition for next year…mostly because they didn’t use much of it this year.
Duck hunting in Minnesota appears to be on the decline for the last several years. I think this is partly due to unseasonably warm temps that just aren’t driving the flocks of ducks south like the colder temps do some years. On the other hand, I’m hearing many hunters concerned that Minnesota needs to change the way it manages its waterfowl. It seems like migratory patterns are shifting more to the west (over the Dakotas) than they are in Minnesota. To be a successful duck hunter one only needs to heed the advice…”go west, young man, go west” cause you won’t find much to shoot at in Minnesota.
I think a lot of hunters this fall have become a little disillusioned with this fall’s hunt…and rightly so. No doubt about it the expectations we had for a successful hunting season has not been reached for most of us. Sure, it can be a little frustrating, but I look at it this way…if a hunter is successful every time they go out then they wouldn’t have the same appreciation for the times when they do experience good hunting. Call this a humbling hunting year, if you will…a season that we all need to go through every once in awhile to keep us motivated for the better days that certainly lie ahead.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.