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How to experience the hunt

If you are thinking about going duck or goose hunting, be prepared for an experience of a lifetime. As MSUM student Roger Sirek puts it: “I love hunting for the thrill and excitement it brings me. I go for the simplicity, the quiet and the nature.”

MSUM students have many chances to find locations around the area with public land to hunt. While waterfowl hunting definitely takes time, energy and money, it’s all worth it if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Many students at MSUM love to hunt. “Duck and goose hunting is really fun,” Becki DeGeest said. “I always get a big adrenaline rush whenever the birds fly over.”

The seasons for duck and goose vary year to year. This year’s duck hunting season opened Sept. 24 and ends Nov. 22. The goose hunting season opened Sept. 24 and runs through Dec. 17.

First,  find a local area where it’s legal to hunt. Northern Minnesota has countless public waterfowl lakes that can be hunted. The easiest way to find a good lake or pond to hunt is to use a plat book (a map drawn to scale) to look up public land around the location.  Another way is to use a Wildlife Management Area map to find a location to hunt. Information can be found on the Department of Natural Resource’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Look for a few things when scouting a lake. One is the surrounding cover. Good camouflage includes cattails around the lake’s edge. Another thing to look for is any type of vegetation, such as wetland rice. The vegetation helps as a natural waterfowl attracter.
Some good hunting areas near Moorhead include Barnesville, Ottertail and Hawley.

Equipment to buy

Once you have found a place to hunt, you are now able to gather your equipment. One main type of gear you need is camouflage. Most hunters prefer warm base layer clothing under waders. Waders are made of neoprene, a waterproofing material, and cover your feet up to your chest. You also want to have a warm camouflage jacket, gloves and hat.

Weaponry

Now that you are covered head to toe in camouflage, you need a weapon and ammunition. Most importantly before handling a gun, you need to get a gun safety license and waterfowl stamps, which make it legal for you to hunt. The licenses add up to about $45.

Almost every type of bird hunting requires a shotgun. Rather than rifles producing one single bullet, shotguns produce a spread shot of BBs. The most common types of shotguns to use are a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge, which refers to the size of ammunition it can shoot.

MSUM does not offer a gun storage area like Bemidji (Minn.)State University. However, student hunters often store their guns with friends or family who live close to campus.

Shotgun ammunition varies. For ducks you will want to use anything from 2 to 4 shot, which is the size of the BBs. For geese, you will need either BBB, BB or 2 shot.

You will also need a camouflaged boat or canoe and don’t forget the paddles. Lastly, you need waterfowl decoys. Most hunters prefer a variety of different kinds of ducks and geese. It all depends on what you want to hunt. Hunters usually use about 20 duck decoys and 10 geese decoys.

Location

You are now ready to venture out to your hunting location. Shooting usually starts at about sunrise so make sure you have enough time to set up beforehand. The first thing you need to do is set up your decoys about 20 yards away from your blind (camouflaged boat or cover). There are multiple techniques on how to display your decoys. One crucial thing is to put the ducks on one side and geese on the other.

Once you have your decoy spread the way you want it, you are able to pull your boat onto the bog and slide your boat parallel to the shore. Make sure cattails or other natural covering surround you so the birds aren’t able to see you.

Patience is a virtue

Now for the waiting. It may take a while before ducks and geese start flying, but be patient.

Some hunters like to use duck and goose calls to attract birds. The downside is that it takes a lot of practice. You may also want to use moving decoys to attract ducks. You can use mojos, which have rotating wings that makes the duck look like it is landing.

Soon, you will have ducks and geese flying into your decoy spread. Wait until they are at a good distance around your decoys and take the shot. Once the bird is in the water, you can retrieve it. Some hunters use a dog to help retrieve their birds. If you don’t have a dog, then  just row out and get it.

Lastly, make sure you follow the regulations. You can only shoot a certain amount of ducks and geese. You can find all the regulations on the DNR’s website. Once you have your limit, you are ready to pack up, head back and enjoy your meal.

For more information, visit the Department of Natural Resource’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

BY JORDAN SCHLUETER
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