When summer rolls around in Minnesota, my mind immediately turns to weekends at the lake. Beer, boating, and barbeque, what else could a man ask for? It’s these activities that take the edge off life for a while, especially when we’re reminded of the countless hours we’ve been cooped up in our homes from January to March.
Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that this time of the year is also great for exploring new public hunting areas. Sure, you’re usually battling mosquitoes, unrelenting sweat, and a blazing sun, but these short jaunts can pay big dividends in the fall. While I reflect on the public hunting locations that I frequent, I can only think of a handful that I didn’t survey in the summer prior. The birds are usually in a different seasonal cycle than in the fall, but the numbers of ducks and geese usually don’t fade. If a breeding population is present in July or August, chances are that a large number of these waterfowl will stick around for the first part of the season.
Other than surveying duck numbers, the other reason I will scout a body of water is to learn the landscape. My friend Jeff and I were recently discussing a scouting expedition that he conducted in the northeast Minneapolis metro. From first glance he knew it would be an impeccable waterfowl hunting location. Off the beaten path, cattails span the entirety of the marsh and he could make-out pockets of ducks and geese feeding throughout. As he began to look for a location to set up in the fall, he was at a loss. Each time he stuck his paddle in the muck, it would sink down 1-2 feet deep. He continued to paddle the entirety of the shore, and never found an ample location to stand. Having surveyed the lake, he now has a rudimentary strategy to try lay-out hunting in his twelve foot kayak.
Being I hunt in the Central part of Minnesota, one of the new strategies I’ve developed is scouting around the wild rice harvest. The harvest usually takes place in first part of September, which is also 2-3 weeks ahead of duck season. These bodies of water usually hold significant numbers of waterfowl due to the ample forage. If you’re having a hard time locating lakes with wild rice present, there is good news. The DNR has already mapped it for you! (link below)
Sorry for the picture Jase. I couldn’t resist.