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I stumbled across this article from Ron Reynolds and Tony on his website. This offers I think a much better look at some of the issues than others I have seen. Thought some of you all should read it. Tom

Tony Dean Outdoors
Texas Style or North Dakota Style


Battles must be fought on many fronts. In his few words, Dick Monson's letter said more about this issue than all the opposition put together. The problem is not the number of non-resident hunters, but the solution to the real problem may be. The purpose of all the positioning is to
decide who will control hunting in North Dakota. There is excellent case history to guide us from states such as California, Texas, and Maryland. I have lived in all of these states and do not understand why any North Dakotan would envy the hunting systems in place there. I am
pleased that the rank-and-file hunters of North Dakota are taking up the battle to protect the model of traditional hunting.

It might be useful to examine the Texas situation as an example. A case study of the evolution of hunting in Texas was published recently by Clark E. Adams et al., 2000, A place to hunt: organizational changes in recreational hunting, using Texas as a case study. Wildlife Society
Bulletin. Clark is with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science at Texas A&M. Hunting in Texas, like most other states emerged into a typical Hunter-conservationist model in the early 1900s when game
numbers were greatly depleted from the ravages of unregulated harvest, and a general lack of (and understanding) wildlife/habitat conservation. The key to this extremely successful model was a somewhat equal partnership between the landowner, hunter and Game and Fish
Agency. This was primarily a hunter driven system, and in their passionate pursuit of hunting activities they were willing to wage battles to protect wildlife and promote conservation. The landowner provided the places to hunt and became the proverbial center pivot of the system. The Game and Fish Agency set the rules and was responsible
for fair play. One of the greatest things that came out of this process was ethical values that still prevail (in part) today. Eventually the Game and Fish Agency took on a more scientific approach to wildlife conservation and hunting management to the benefit of all.

In the early 1960s the model (and roles of the triad) began to change. Landowners began to realize that certain segments of the hunting fraternity were willing to pay for hunting access and began marketing these rights. Wildlife became a by-product of traditional agriculture use. The existence of trespass laws already in place in Texas greatly
facilitated the "hunting lease system". Landowners now controlled by virtue of access, that what had previously been held by the Agency in public trust (every state in the nation, and where federal authority prevails, places ownership of wildlife in the public domain). Landowners now went after more assistance and attention by the Agency,
even though the Agency was still being funded exclusively by hunters. It's easy to get addicted to someone else's money.

As access to hunting opportunity declined for the average guy (gal) and their children, the tradition, culture, and sociological aspects of hunting also changed and an entirely "new breed" of hunters began emerging.
These "new" hunters have begun taking advantage of depressed
land prices (farmland prices have generally not kept pace with salary increases of the non-farming industry) and instead of leasing land they saw more wisdom in outright ownership. By combining their financial force, groups of hunters can out-compete virtually any agriculture
based system for purchase and control of land. In this model, the traditional sportsman-landowner-Agency triangle is dissolved. Individual hunters participation in Agency decisions are replaced by special-interest-groups (clubs). Unfortunately, these "new" hunters seek instant gratification with increased emphasis on highly managed
hunting experiences and are not motivated by the desire to conserve wildlife and do not practice time honored ethics or rules of fair-chase (e.g., hunting trophy elk in an enclosure).

I predict the last phase of the Texas model will be played out in the future. As the public realizes that the hunters role as conservationist is now only a myth, they will no longer support hunting. Numerous polls have determined that the majority of non-hunters condone (if not
support) consumptive recreational hunting, but not "trophy hunting". If hunting survives at all it will go the way of Cock fighting in Maryland; underground. Game and Fish Agencies will wither as hunter dollars stop flowing (however some Agencies will ease into tax based funded programs to serve a special constituency).

Can't happen in North Dakota. It has already begun. One of North Dakotas largest Corporate/Commercial operations (130,000 acres) is owned by individuals from Texas. And North Dakota is currently moving at a faster pace than Texas did because the model has already been tested
there. The temptation to make money off of something you don't own or invest-in is overwhelming. There is nothing that market hunting interest won't do to protect their blood money. They will try to develop monopolies by limiting outfitter number and staking out territories". They will try and take control of setting seasons and
distributing permits. A case-in-point is the recent lawsuit filed by outfitters against the State of Arizona over access to elk permits. I can tell you of cases where guides in Maryland threatened the life of a waterfowl biologist for reducing the limit on Canada geese after these
"new age market hunters" nearly extirpated the Atlantic Population in the 1980s. In my life I have witnessed how greed-driven market hunting has stolen the peoples land and wildlife.

In all this I do not begrudge a landowner for charging an access fee. I welcome my Minnesota neighbors to come and hunt the North Dakota style (but, please don't try to convince me that Minnesota hunters are going to save our wetlands).

The Hunter Pressure Concept was developed by biologist from NDGFD. A waterfowl hunters survey (statistically valid random survey) showed that North Dakota waterfowl hunters wanted a limit of about 10-12,000 non-residents. So the Hunter Pressure Concept is liberal. The purpose of the measure is to manage hunting pressure in order to sustain the quality of hunting for both resident and non-resident waterfowl hunters. To date, the only group that has been willing to compromise is the ND sportspersons.

The only opposition to the proposal is virtually all from the market hunters and other money interests such as motel owners. None of these groups have a vested interest in wildlife.

The guides and outfitters are as nervous as a bunch of Taliban at a Blackhawk convention. They see an end to their free ride and don't like it. They will kick and fight for all they can, but when it's all over, I pray
that North Dakota can hang-on to the traditional model of wildlife partnership. The model where the average sportsman has a role and the Game and Fish Agency professionals, not the market hunters, are empowered to manage wildlife and hunting issues.

Take care.

Ron Reynolds


As is always the case, when you put something on paper, it is extremely well thought out and logically presented...and I agree with nearly everything you said.

I certainly agree that the trespass law, which we have in South Dakota, facilitates commercialization of wildlife. It has here...and everywhere such a law is in effect.

In fact, one member of the SD GFP commission, (who has Texas roots), has already indicated a desire to stock exotic game, Texas style, and presumably market the hunts on their ranch. And, our previous Governor, Bill Janklow, stacked the commission with lots of people involved in wildlife privatization.

And we certainly agree that we don't want to see the development of Texas, California or Maryland style huntng here. But I fear it's already started.

You say you don't begrudge the landowner for wanting a fee for hunting but where is that line that divides that landowner from the large commercial operating?

We both know that agencies struggle with this issue...emphasis on the word, "struggle."

Hunters struggle even more.

It's no secret our Dakotas don't offer the income opportunities available in Minnesota, Wisconsin or other states. It's also no secret that the emergence of fee hunting has placed great strain on the average Joe or Jill and their kids. At the prices charged for pheasant hunting in SD, for example, well, there just aren't many residents who can afford it. And that's the crux of the argument against non-residents. There is a widespread perception that they are the problem. And, they are, at least a small portion of them. But how do you deal with that small portion without impacting the much larger faction of non-residents, who also happen to be average Joes or Jills?

And to be truthful, fee hunting on that large scale revolves around...pheasant hunting, not ducks. Capping non-residents may well increase quality of hunting. But, it won't solve the problem. South Dakota allows fewer non-resident waterfowl hunters than North Dakota, and at one time, had a complete ban on visiting hunters. So, South Dakota capped WATERFOWL hunters, North Dakota is considering capping WATERFOWL hunters and the problem in both states revolves around PHEASANT hunters. I believe you were referring to the Cannonball Company, were you not?

South Dakota's ban on non-resident waterfowl hunting didn't stop land-leasing, it just changed the players. The same amount of land was leased by wealthier residents. Commercial waterfowl hunting became established long after the ban, especially alonag the Missouri River where it's still difficult to find a place to hunt geese. And historically, most of the land is controlled either by landowners there, by "clubs" or by wealthier resident hunters.

Did a ban on visitors restore quality hunting?

Not in my mind. In South Dakota, the traditonal way of scouting, following flocks, obtaining permission and then setting up decoys, doesn't work. That's because most areas frequented by the geese are under tight, commercial control.

Capping non-residents didn't solve that problem. And in order to attempt to solve it, the Game, Fish & Parks Department, acting as the broker, leased land in Hughes County, where I live and where the commmercial hunting is as intense as anywhere in either state. The program has been mildly successful. But, unless I'm mistaken, it's been funding by allowing a few more "private land only" licenses, which moved our state even closer to the agency facilitating commercial operators. Even so, at least local hunters now have some land on which to hunt.

In addition, South Dakota's caps on non-residents have only aggravated the situation in North Dakota. I wonder how long we'll be able to sustain waterfowl hunting by limiting the hunting opportunities in the two best waterfowl hunting states in about 15,000 hunters?

I know there are waterfowl biologists who share your view, including my good friend, Carl Madsen. But there are other eminent waterfowl scientists who share mine...that hunter numbers will fall when duck numbers drop and wetlands dry...such as our mutual friend, Harold Duebbert. Point is, this isn't about who's right and who's wrong; it's about whether limiting hunters will solve the problem.

What we're dealing with is, I believe, a complex social problem that defies easy and quick solutions. I know that you are one of the best waterfowl biologists in America and there are few in your profession I have more respect for, but I fear you are grasping for straws too.

I'm not trying to tell you that Minnesota hunters are going to help us save our wetlands. Lord knows they didn't save theirs. However, in view of the SWANCC ruling, the Bush Administration's efforts to open even more for drainage and the small hope that Swampbuster provides, I believe this is a more critical issue. Recent history indicates Dakota hunters are no better than their counterparts in Minnesota or Iowa, in recognizing the importance of wetlands and showing the willingness to fight for them.

I appreciate your intelligent input into this, Ron, and I wish there were a simple switch we could trigger that would make sure that there'll be a place to hunt for all, regardless of economic status.

If I had the answer to that problem, I'd be shouting it from the rooftops.


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Should send this to someone who would listen ???

Maybe the Govenor should appoint a Citizen (taxpayer) commision to meet & priorities all the ideas - Brain storm them - with professional mediators etc. ???

We could argue for years on who should be on this commision :roll:

One thing should be - you should have had a Hunting license for the last 5 to 10 years & hunted in many counties (both east & west) in ND. For a variety of game. No politicians -

No one with a conflict of interest - (we could debate that & argue over it forever too) :roll:

Isn't Government suppose to do whats best for the people ??? Usually business doesn't want anything to do with Government ??? Unless there is something in it for them ??? Are there any answers to this ??? Besides just let it happen - Free Enterprise & then try to find ways to tax it later ??? Even that doesn't seem to be a goal ???

How such a minority can manuver & shake things up - to go there way - is terrible :eyeroll:

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The problem is that in America money talks. Always has, always will. Especially in ND, where a little money goes a long, long way. At the hearings on 2048, all the opposition talked about was money, money, money. Money prevailed.

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Great letter by Ron.

However, I fail to make the logical jump, where states that he does not begrudge the farmer/landowner of making $$ from access to a public resource. It simply doesn't follow from all of the preceding arguments.

I still believe the Alberta model is correct and is the only solution that will work long term (other than making everyone virtuous...). We could Americanize it and have the government pay farmers for public access or whatever (e.g., PLOTS)...

We already have the scandinavian model for land access.


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So Finding away for farmers & landowners to profit (Raise / attract waterfowl & pheasants) is the bottom line ??? & how to manage it fairly - so all can participate & not overcrowd towns (But have sustained economic growth) & not overcrowd the land & not hurt the resource (maybe even improve it) ???

We can do that with Deer Hunting & Lakes & Fishing ??? (even our State Parks have limits :roll: ) Wouldn't we want to manage hunting & grow it & improve it as we can handle it ???

Is it possible to have a initiated Measure to outright Ban Leasing land for Hunting ???

Is it possible to Ban Guiding ???

Or regulate it so as not let them become monopolies ??? (say county by county) ???

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Of course there is, pass legislation that makes it illegal to profit off a public trust resource. As I have said numerous times, if No. Dak. can pass a no corporate farm law, why is it a stretch to pass legislation that makes it illegal to market hunt e.g., commercial hunting operations.

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I beg to differ that pheasant market hunting alone is the cause of our access problem. Increasingly outfitters are branching out into multiple species. What is a waterfowl market hunting operation today, will be in upland and big game shortly. Outfitters cartering to primarily NRs go for an extension of their season, even branching out into varmints as is currently the case in south central ND. Cannonball offers three species of upland, prarrie dogs, coyotes, etc. and rumors abound of their tenative forrays into waterfowl in the basin. Cannonballs clients are 90% nonresidents, primarily corporate businessmen.
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