Here’s an irony: In a prairie province covered in lakes, marshes and potholes, most waterfowl hunters do not hunt over water. And of those who do, even fewer of them hunt big water for diving ducks.
So if you are looking for a destination to decoy canvasbacks and redheads with little or no competition from other hunters, unlimited big-water opportunities await in Manitoba. The cattail marshes of Manitoba are prime breeding areas for both species, so in many cases, you’ll be hunting local ducks. Larger marshes and shallow lakes also attract staging diving ducks.
Manitoba affords canvasback and redhead hunters many advantages. For starters, it’s an early-season effort. Duck season opens Sept. 1 in Manitoba, but hunting heats up in late September when diving ducks move out of the smaller wetlands to larger water. And when you show up to hunt, many of the ducks have never seen a decoy spread, let alone been shot at. Simply put, they’ll readily commit, often even to a small number of decoys.
The only drawback to diver hunting in Manitoba is that most canvasbacks and redheads do not achieve prime plumage before they migrate from the province in early to mid-October. So typically, it’s not a taxidermy hunt. However, liberal daily limits are a boon to hunters who thrill at hoisting big diving ducks. Foreign (non-Canadian) hunters in Game Bird Hunting Zone 4, which is the southern area, are allowed four “red” ducks daily. Hunters can take any combination of redheads and canvasbacks totaling four, and still shoot four other ducks, too. In zones 1, 2 and 3, hunters can shoot eight ducks daily, with no restriction on redheads or canvasbacks.
For a truly big-lake experience, consider setting up in a shallow bay of Lake Winnipeg, Lake Winnipegosis or Lake Manitoba. Of course, the Delta Marsh, long famous for canvasback hunting, sits a couple hours drive west of Winnipeg.
A foreign (U.S.) resident game bird license is $170.75, while non-resident Canadians pay $98.75. A $17.85 migratory bird permit and wildlife habitat conservation stamp is required of all hunters. A firearms permit is $25, and transporting a shotgun into Canada is not troublesome. U.S. residents need a passport for entry.
If you are looking to start diver hunting early this fall, take advantage of super hunting for canvasbacks and redheads in Manitoba.