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Anderson and 6 ducks

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Dennis Anderson: Six-duck limit gives hunters wrong message

Conservationists from Aldo Leopold to Jimmy Robinson have tried to get across the idea that the estimation of a successful hunt doesn't have to be the number of birds in the bag.

By Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

Last update: October 04, 2007 – 10:45 PM

The unexpected happened last weekend in Minnesota: Ducks showed up for opening day. Most were teal, bluewing and greenwing, and most were likely not raised here, but in Canada. And most Minnesota hunters responded as the Department of Natural Resources suggested. They shot as many as they could.

You really have to wonder what we're thinking. If we're thinking. The state's wetland base is declining -- still. And most wetlands remaining in Minnesota are polluted, degraded and/or filled with carp.

Yet given the choice to restrict Minnesota waterfowlers to four ducks this fall, as was the case last year, rather than six, DNR leadership -- overriding the recommendation of its own professionals -- chose the higher limit.

Perhaps Minnesota hunters were demanding more ducks? Not so. The DNR itself surveyed waterfowlers and found more than 80 percent were satisfied with four ducks a day.

Maybe Minnesota was home to a surplus of returning breeding ducks this spring? Guess again: Breeders were down more than 20 percent from 2005.

Note to the DNR, courtesy of Aldo Leopold and Jimmy Robinson: You don't have to shoot them all.

You wouldn't know it by the signals the DNR sends to Minnesota waterfowlers, most of whom -- having never been engaged in a conversation about waterfowl management -- know little more about ducks than how to kill them.

Instead, the DNR, believing its role is less that of waterfowl manager than duck distributor, sends hunters a different message: Value your time afield by the number of birds in the bag.

In Minnesota, after all, we shoot ducks in mid-September that are barely fledged, under the guise of Youth Waterfowl Day. On opening day of the regular season, we begin shooting at 9 a.m. rather than noon, as has been the tradition since 1947. And the state's 4 p.m. closing has been shortened by two-thirds to include just the first nine days of the season.

All in the name of more hunter "opportunity."

It is true that six ducks vs. four ultimately will result in a higher kill whose proportion likely will be negligible. But the higher limit also keeps hunters in the marsh longer, disturbing birds that are pressured enough already in Minnesota. This has implications for hunters who might still be trying to kill their first, second or third ducks of the day, and implications as well for the next morning's hunt, by which time many birds wisely would have flown south.

Minnesota does not have a duck problem. It has a people problem -- they're the ones, who drain and mismanage wetlands -- and a duck-management problem.

It wasn't always so. When Roger Holmes headed the agency's wildlife division, he shied not a whit from regulating the state's ducks conservatively. Similarly, the retired DNR waterfowl biologist Bob Jessen was an avid waterfowler. But he spoke without reservation first and foremost about a duck's welfare instead of hunter opportunity.

Who can blame a hunter last weekend who shot until he had six ducks in the bag? Big Daddy DNR said go for it. So it must be OK.

What an opportunity lost to educate the hunting citizenry, as should be the DNR's charge, rather than, in the name of providing a public service, greasing the skids for higher harvests.

No duck is as beautiful as one on the wing, no morning richer than one passed in a marsh. Neither experience, rightly, should be measured by game reduced to the hand, particularly so if that measurement is institutionally encouraged.

Yet Minnesota hunters can be forgiven if that's the lesson they've learned.

The late Jimmy Robinson generally allowed no guest at his Manitoba duck camp to shoot a legal limit, holding them instead to what he called a "sportsmen's" limit, or two fewer than the province allowed.

The message intended: You don't have to shoot them all.

And Aldo Leopold wrote early last century about what oftentimes is the mutually suffocating relationship between recreation manager and his constituent, the modern versions of whom often contribute to the other's lack of imagination.

"It is the expansion of transport without a corresponding growth of perception which threatens us with qualitative bankruptcy of the recreational process. Recreational development is a job, not of building roads into lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind."

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

The whole reason behind the 4 duck limit was to protect our local birds.

If these birds came from canada like Anderson says, how could we be hurting our local population????

Anderson is such a screw job.

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I'll bet he quits at 4 when he goes to Canada, North Dakota, South Dakota, etc. Once again, if someone shoots their limit(ONE DAY) everyone thinks something is wrong. Guess what Dennis, I only shot 2 ducks so if someone shot 6, then we both shot 4. make you feel better?

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AMEN brother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Well, I can't speak for wildlife or ducks, but in fishing, changing the limit doesn't really do squat. Harvest hardly changes, which is why fishing limits hardly change. Waterfowl isn't the same, and I get his point since MN has the most licensed hunters. I also get his point quoting Robinson and Leopold. For me, it's never been about the ducks, and I think the majority of duck hunters are that way.

I wish other states would lower their bags as well. It's hard not to use that kind logic (the 'they don't do it why should we') regarding bag limits, especially with nonresident licenses so expensive elsewhere and more liberal fish and game limits elsewhere.

One point I don't agree with him on:

Quote:

In Minnesota, after all, we shoot ducks in mid-September that are barely fledged, under the guise of Youth Waterfowl Day. On opening day of the regular season, we begin shooting at 9 a.m. rather than noon, as has been the tradition since 1947. And the state's 4 p.m. closing has been shortened by two-thirds to include just the first nine days of the season.

All in the name of more hunter "opportunity."


He's way off with the Youth Waterfowl Day comments. Don't write about declining interest in the Outdoors by young people one month and then blast the youth opportunities later. Natural Resources management isn't just a biological decision, there are limitless social and economic impacts worth considering. Minnesota has always been a great state for expanding outdoor opportunities. I don't think this does much for changing harvest. Pheasant season got extended for the same reason...that extra time afield doesn't result in that many more birds.

I don't really care if its 4 birds or 6 in all honesty. Now that the DNR has been blasted by all the big outdoor writers I'm sure it'll return to 4 next year. Sounds like Dennis and I are both out there for the hunt and not the birds, so who cares if its 4 birds or 6. The bag limit is designed to protect the species and sexes that need protection, does 4 or 6 really matter? What impact is 4 or 6 really having on waterfowl conservation? Sorry if this is getting off topic, but if you really want to make a difference do something about habitat. Fact is MN just doesn't have the habitat the Dakotas or Sasketchewan has.

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He sometimes seems to mix his messages and the individual arguments lose merit because he neither fully supports them nor fully tests them through hypothesis.

There is an entire system in place from the arctic circle to Mexico. The most licensed waterfowlers or not, MN is about 2 birds a day per hunter from making an impact on anything- production or harvest.

The challenge should be the logic in creating 'opportunity' and how that is defined. If opportunity is shooting the most birds over a period of time then dump YWD, restore the 4pm for two weeks, go back to noon, etc.

If opportunity is to put a few ducks in the freezer for the guy and his kid because their one time out is opener, leave it alone.

If he is assuming that since we are six ducks this year I've lost all sense of conservation I'll make certain to follow through on my threats to cancel that worthless rag he writes for (Sunday edition grin.gif) and donate the $ to MWA.

I'd be interested to see the fully burdened environmental cost of producing that Sunday kindling pack I get...

Anyway, expect more of this going into the legislative session as they rattle the sabers to support the dedicated funding, which will likely come from an increased sales tax.

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Quote:

Perhaps Minnesota hunters were demanding more ducks? Not so. The DNR itself surveyed waterfowlers and found
more than 80 percent were satisfied with four ducks a day.


Quote:

You wouldn't know it by the signals the DNR sends to
Minnesota waterfowlers, most of whom -- having never been engaged in a conversation about waterfowl management -- know little more about ducks than how to kill them.


OK so 80 percent of us were happy with a 4 bird bag, presumably for reasons of waterfowl management yet "most" of us have never been engaged in discussing waterfowl management and don't know anything except how to kill ducks? Not sure how that math works out.

What a bunch of self-righteous BS.

If I ever come across somebody with a duck boat hooked up to their truck or wearing Shadowgrass or Max4 while I'm filling up I always strike up a conversation with them and talk ducks - and I have yet to meet someone from that other 20% that was upset that they couldn't kill more stuff when out on the marsh. Guess I'm just lucky that way.

All we need is to have a purported outdoors advocate publishing an article that presents us as uneducated, ignorant barbarians that are incapable of policing ourselves. What a wasted opportunity to shed light onto a real threat we are facing here - the loss of quality habitat that is briefly alluded to in this article but overshadowed by the bashing of the biologists (yes, those guys and gals whose degrees are slightly more complex than English Literature and Communications) who are qualified to make these types of decisions.

I guess it just really ticks me off how "educated" people seem to think it is their duty to protect us "common folk" from ourselves.

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Quote:

You wouldn't know it by the signals the DNR sends to Minnesota waterfowlers, most of whom -- having never been engaged in a conversation about waterfowl management -- know little more about ducks than how to kill them.


Dennis does this look like we've never been involved in waterfowl conservation & passing it on to our youth?

Cubscouts Built these. After being educated on waterfowl conservation.

ScoutsWoodDuckInstallation.jpg

Dads installing.

WoodDuckInstallation.jpg

Dennis please don't speak for/or about the waterfowl hunters! We are intelligent enough to know what a sucessful hunt is and we also know a thing or two on waterfowl habitat & conservation.

Later,

Chris

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SportFishin,' thank you and great photos!

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maybe the dnr thinks that 80% of us are happy with a four bird limit is because 80% of the time we can't get two. now if we complained like a walleye fisherman then we would see something done grin.gif

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