North Dakota Fishing and Hunting Forum banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, I am new to this board but have been reading some of your posts. I am an avid hunter and fisherman who has hunted ND for 2 years now for pheasants. I plan on coming out to try some fishing this spring as well. I am from Minnesota.

I would like to comment on the non-resident issue that I see really becoming an issue in your state. Four of us, two father-son teams, used to hunt in SD, but 2 years ago decided to try ND to get a better overall hunting experience. We have no connections in either state, we just decided to come out and wing it. We are not rich folks by any stretch, but spend our fair share of money where we hunt. We eat in the local cafe's, stay at local establishments, etc. Although we have generally have had a good experience, we have had a very hard time finding places to hunt. We have tried from Lake Tschida to Hazen. Public land is generally overhunted, private land is all but impossible to get on. We have played by the rules at all times, we never hunt on posted land. We have seen many times, both ND residents and non-residents jump out of pickups and whack a rooster out of the road ditch in front of a No Hunting sign. It makes us :puke:. The PLOTS idea is great. I never hunted one west the river that had cover that could hide a sparrow. It was almost all hayed. Did farmers receive money for these as part of the PLOTS program and still hay it? Even a CoverLocks program was hayed and provided no habitat whatsoever. I have no problem if they hay it, but they should not be allowed to collect sportsmen money if they did.

A lot of people try and lay blame on the non-resident. From what I have seen, the NR is no better and no worse than the Res. Now I see that potentially we (NRs) will be limited in some way. Maybe that will effect us, maybe not. We are coming back next year, but are wondering whether it may be better to travel to Montana or Nebraska. In summary, we are exactly the type of hunters that ND wants and depending what happens, we may or may not be back after next year. And that is too bad, because I really like your state and the people are fantastic (with a couple exeptions). We don't shoot as many roosters as we did in SD, but the overall experience has been better (even with the land access issue). Did I mention the time cousin Shane went up to ask permission and the sign by the door said "Beware of Dog" and a Saint Bernard comes plodding around the corner.....

By the way, I am thinking about fishing Sak this spring, does anybody fish that very often? Any advice would be appreciated.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,287 Posts
Welcome to the forum Dino.

Unfortunetly, the issues in the state are always pinned as "resident vs. non-resident", and it's far beyond that.

Land access is dropping substantially, and at an alarming rate. I think the state needs to find a way to keep it under control. There isn't a perfect solution to this, and I feel Dan Bueide puts it best when he says you know you came up with the right compromise when nobody felt like they won. It's going to be about balance. We'll have to see the outcome in the near future.

As far as fising Sak., I don't get out there enough so my opinion wouldn't be as valid as some of the other members. I do know it's a world class fishery, and every time I've dropped a line in the lake I've done pretty well. The structure in the lake is ideal for walleyes. And if you're looking into the early spring, you can get into some BIG pike when the females run up for the spawn.

I appreciate your level-headed comments and opinions, and I would like to hear more of them from you in the future.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
537 Posts
Dino,

Welcome to the site. I too am an NR like you.

You mention that access to pheasant land is tough. Yes, it is. Most of the good stuff is posted. You can get permission sometimes. However, a lot of the land in prime pheasant range is reserved for fee hunting only. Those that control the land depend on non-residents to pay fees to hunt on "their" land. So, in that sense, the NRs are the source of the problem. I believe that they use the resource far more than residents do.

I wish the outfitters could be regulated severely in terms of how much land they use. Then there would not be so much posted land where access was impossible without paying big $$$$. But, until that happens, I guess the only way to preserve a quality hunt and cut down on the total amount of land posted is to limit the outfitter's cash resource ( the NR hunter.)

I will continue to poke around on the fringes of the prime pheasant range and see what I can do about gaining access. I hope you and your family can do the same.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Perry,
Very few of the people we asked talked about fee hunting or outfitters. Mostly it was family and friends that hunted their land. Thus I feel the majority of the problem was due to resident hunters. Nothing wrong with that, how can you expect someone to let me hunt when their family or friends hunt? So I am not complaining about that, but I am saying that I don't think the fee hunting by NR is much of an issue, at least in the area I hunted for the last couple years. How to solve the problem? I think the PLOTS program is a great start, but the haying issue this year all but negated the impact of PLOTS. Nobody knows if farmers got paid for their PLOTS if they hayed it? I am not anti-farmer at all, in fact I am from a farming family, but if they are paid for PLOTS, they shouldnt be allowed to hay it in my opinion.

The other thing I noticed is a distinct lack of habitat. Most areas out in that area cannot support birds. When you find some cover, you find birds. How about a program designed to gain a little habitat? Some tree plantings, native prairie grass re-introductions, food plots, etc. The conservation orgs should be working toward this, but I didn't see any evidence of them out there. A Pheasants Forever chapter could do a ton of work out there with a limited budget. If the residents really want to improve the opportunities, they should look into these orgs and bring them in, it would really, really make a difference.

We have discussed what a shelterbelt here, a food plot there, would do for upland birds out there and I really see an opportunity to do some good out there. I would do it if I lived out there (be involved, start a chapter, etc), but I cannot from here. For people out there reading this, Pheasants Forever is a unique organization that allows 100% of the funds raised by the chapters to be controlled and spent by that chapter. If you have a banquet and make $5000, the chapter committee (i.e. local residents) determine how to spend that money. Only annual membership fees go to the corporate office ($25).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
842 Posts
Anyone want to bet that the big outfitters will not lose a single customer next fall ?

Allocations of licenses to guides may even improve their business at the expense of the freelance hunter, especially if their quota exceeds last year's client base. (they need room for expansion - don't you know). The only guarenteed way to get a ND license may be through the guide.

A precendent has been established with NR deer licenses. I would expect that NR landowners may also get priority to any license quota on pheasants.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
842 Posts
PLOTS and winter habit are nice and very effective. But when the ND winter really turns NASTY (those years when entire cattail sloughs fill with snow) it is the working ranch yards that carry many a pheasant, turkey, and deer through the winter.

We have all heard about the rancher that does not allow hunting yet asks and receives free deer proof fencing.

What many fail to hear about is all the ranchers that carry 100s of birds and deer through a nasty winter. Most if not all of this expense - out of their own pocket book.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
prairie hunter,
great point. just think if a local PF chapter was around to help some of those guys with a little bit of habitat enhancement around their place and provide some financial assistance so it doesnt always have to come out of their pocket 100%!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
537 Posts
Dino,

You may not think there is much habitat out there, but there really is.

This fall we hunted west of the river one day. As we drove south toward the farm where we were going to hunt, it looked to this Minnesotan that there was not enough cover to hide anything but a sparrow. There were no trees, almost no brush, and no corn. It looked almost like a moonscape compared to Minnesota, Iowa, or even a lot of South Dakota.

But, when we got up close, there were grassy draws, hidden cattails, CRP cover, and some of the most godawful stuff to walk through that I have ever experienced. The locals said that knee-high stuff was just loaded with birds earlier in the season. I can see why.

There was also the farmer's shelter belt. It was really thick. There were just a few birds in it when we walked through it, but I'll bet when the weather gets nasty, it fills with birds. I really did not "see" this as a part of the habitat when I initially scanned the landscape in the area, but like the other habitat, it became very visible after being there for awhile. The landscaped looked completely different on the way home than it did when we first arrived.

PLOTS? All it does is give hunters a chance to exercise their dogs and get out in the fresh air. That's fine, but I don't think it adds appreciably to the habitat that is needed to raise pheasants.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Perry, believe me, I have put many, many miles on my boots in the Lake Tschida to Hazen area. Many more miles on the truck. They are lacking cover. Is there some? Sure and I know what you mean about finding some hidden areas. But most of the time, I knew that when you could find good cover, you would find a lot of birds. In many areas, you could drive for a few miles and not see any cover. Then you would come over a hill and there was some cover and there were the birds. Plus, you put a few inches of snow on the ground and a little wind (really, wind in ND), and a good chunk of the places the birds have are now worthless. They are in need of additional habitat out there. If they get a tough winter the bird numbers will plummet in many areas.

Dino
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
791 Posts
I would have to dissagree. There is plenty of cover out there in a normal year. Maybe this year was different because of the drought and the farmers being allowed to hay CRP. One thing you have to remember is that western ND is way different than Minnesota as far as habitat is concerned. The most natural habitat for that part of the state is grass. In a normal year (again this year was a little different because of the drought) there is more than enough CRP. You also need to know that Western ND doesn't get the hard winters like the rest of us. It could snow a few inches, then get up into the 40s the next day and melt it all, so unless you get a winter like 97, winterkill will be minimal in western ND (esspecially in the Mott and Hettinger area).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
842 Posts
SW ND really is pretty ideal territory for pheasants. Typically it has mild winters and relatively dry nesting conditions.

The CRP grasslands have replaced many a strip farmed field. Before CRP most of SW ND was covered with fields farmed in strips of grain and strips of barren ground. Land could only withstand growing crops every other year.

Spring and summer nesting conditions are probably the biggest factor influencing the fall pheasant populations in SW ND. Drought or the opposite: hail, heavy rain or long periods of cool wet weather have the biggest negative impact.

Still, in those years when even SW ND gets a nasty winter - all those fields of grass are completely snowed over and the grain fields covered too. Working ranch yards carry the majority of the birds.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top