Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations in Minnesota
Key Definitions and Restrictions
Understanding the appropriate terminology is crucial in navigating the regulations for hunting migratory game birds, which include various species such as ducks, geese, and doves. Notably, the term "migratory waterfowl" is employed specifically for ducks, geese, and mergansers. An undressed bird refers to those species that must retain a fully-feathered wing for identification post-harvest.
Non-toxic Shot Requirement
The law mandates the use of non-toxic shot—such as steel, bismuth or tungsten alloys—when hunting migratory birds like geese, ducks, mergansers, among others. Use of lead shot for hunting these species is illegal, and hunters must comply with the regulations set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding bullet material.
Opening Day Limits and Retrieval Duties
On the initial day of the season, hunters are restricted from possessing more than the designated daily limit of freshly killed migratory game birds. They also bear the responsibility to make a reasonable effort to retrieve any migratory game bird they shoot and include it within their daily bag limit to prevent wastage.
Decoy Placement and Use
Specific rules govern the use of decoys on public lands and waters—placement of these can commence no more than two hours before the sanctioned shooting time. It is against regulations to abandon decoys on public waters between sunset and two hours prior to legal shooting hours. Additionally, unattended decoys must not be left unmanaged for over three hours unless in waters adjacent to privately owned land. Motorized spinning-wing decoys are lawful statewide during the early teal session and the entire waterfowl season, with permissions extending to wildlife management areas.
Field Possession Limits
Hunters must adhere to strict possession limits while in the field, which preclude possessing more than the daily or aggregate daily limit of migratory game birds. This applies from the location of the take up to the hunter's vehicle, residence, lodging, bird preservation facility, postal office, or a common carrier facility.
Wanton Waste Prohibition
Lastly, hunters are mandated to recover all migratory game birds they wound or kill and must retain these birds in their actual custody while in the field. Immediate killing and inclusion in the daily limit are required for any retrieved wounded game birds. Transferring possession of birds to another individual in the field is not authorized, underscoring the principle of personal responsibility and the prohibition on wasteful practices.