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Hi all

I've hunted the Devils Lake area in a group of 4 (from MN) for the past 2 years hunting ducks and geese. We stay for 3-5 days depending on the hunting. Last year we came around the 20-24th of October and had decent hunting for 1 day, then succumbed to the weather as most of the sloughs froze up tight. The birds, both ducks and geese, were plentiful but all were holed up in guide-leased land. We left a day early very frustrated at the lack of accessible land; we had never seen more birds in one area but couldn't find anywhere to hunt them. We returned to MN and had great pheasant and late season greenhead hunting for the rest of the season.

We pay $600+ per person and log about 1,500 miles (~1/2 in scouting) on the trip. 600 bucks isn't a ton but some in our group are high school/college students. We love our accomodations and the people of ND but the hunting just isn't panning out. This year we decided we could get more bang for our buck in MN or SD on a combined pheasant/ duck hunt. Another group of 6 staying at the same place we stay at was also considering not returning when we last spoke with them.

I know last year there was plenty of discussion in this forum about the guides locking up a ton of land and non-resident hunting oppurtunities dwindling. I'm curious to hear what some of the residents and non-residents see for land access prospects both this year and into the future.

BTW I hope water levels improve for ND for all that plan to hunt, pretty dry in MN too.

Regards and thanks in advance for any feedback.

Waterchicken
 

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I'm curious as to what some of the other Devils lake guys who read this Forum have to say. I know that if I had not been hunting our areas the past 30+ years and had not developed relationships with shirt-tail relatives and become friends with others that it would VERY difficult to maintain the quality of hunting that we still enjoy. I will have to say that if you are a NR and you want to hunt the DL area in fields and potholes.... good luck... it's one of the worst areas in the state for freelance hunters. There's many areas better in terms of land access, not waterfowl numbers...sorry you had a bad experience...although the freeze can happen anytime here so you just have to take a chance.

Oh and by the way, for all you NRs that hunt ND for both pheasant and waterfowl, if the FB law suit is successful free lance hunting as we know it will be a thing of the past. Many of the acres that we hunt on are owned by retired farmers living in Tx and Arizona. Try calling them the night before when you find a field of 3000 mallards....I wouldhave troouble reaching them and I have permission. I've hunted MN for pheasants and ducks as a NR and from personal experience it is VERY difficult to gain permission if you can even find the land owner. You guys know what I'm talking about....Call whom ever you can concerning this issue and express your concerns.
 

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It's not real freelancer friendly up here....but you wouldn't know it listening to the crap put out by the visitor group....guys come up thinking they'll find great duck hunting, only to find the great areas controlled by guides...same goes in the winter, they'll make you think you can show up & hammer the big perch....let me tell you its not that easy...I talked to many a NR who came up to fish, "expecting" big perch & only catching a few...the only saving grace for them was the walleye fishing....

There are some good areas left up here....but you'll need to drive aways north & east and father south and west....most freelancers up here either hunt the big water(most don't have the boat for it or don't want divers & shovelers) or sleep here & travel out aways...we do have the motel space.

what do I do????....well I'm a big water diver hunter, so I'm doing just fine...I don't even bother looking for a place to field hunt or pothole hunt, other than the res only week....I'll hunt hard that fisrt week & ease up till near freeze up & go after it hard again....

I also agree to let these motel owners(except the GA INN, outfitter owned) that they are in bed with the wrong people...
 

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FH,

About time people are starting to talk about how bad the DL area is for trying to get on land. Seems like every year more and more people are guiding and are leasing up land. We are finding posters as far away as the Esmond area with guides from DL on them. Kyle B. leases up land around fish lake which is 40 miles from DL but only hunts it late in the year when the birds move out of the lake alice area. Makes it pretty hard to swallow when land you have hunted all of your life now has that dirtbags name on it.
 

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It's pretty ironic that the group (DLCC) leading the "land a plenty" misinformation campaign last session is one of the areas suffering the worst from the effects of commercialization (G&O, too much pressure, etc.). It's also ironic and infuriating that this and other heavy use areas were excluded from the so-called "plan" of this year.

I've hunted an area West of DL each and every year for 10 years. My time spent in the area has dropped from 6-8 to 2-3 days per season. This started when corn fields started appearing in the area, and when the snows used to be huntable, they began a pattern of heavily favoring corn fields by the time they showed up in big numbers. Soon, the vast majority of all corn fields were locked up by the outfitters. It became very difficult to get into the corn, and if you weren't in it, you were just watchin' not huntin'. Later, even the duck hunting became miserable, as there was just too many people chasing too few accessible groups of birds.

The best, most-enjoyable hunting I've had in years in that area was last fall during the res only week, and likely my time in that area this year will again be confined to a few days during the res only week. In '01, when everyone opened for ducks at the same time, it was an unmitigated zoo.
 

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Waterchicken I dont wish to spread gloom and doom but you will find access more difficult than last year. Next year you will find it worse than this year. The commercialization is happening at a furious rate! The governor will not cap numbers or slow guiding interests. Non residents will have to use guides in the future to get good hunting.. Residents will have very limited hunting unless they have friends or family that have land. Most of the freelance hunters resident and nonresident hunters will be pushed on to the public land. What you knew is dissapearing fast.. As you hunt the Devils Lake area I would suggest you PM Cootkiller or Econ 101 They say they have contacts to lots of land in the Devils lake area that you can hunt. There is no problem . Good Luck
 
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