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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No answers here - more questions :

A few people on this site have started talking about access. Some have proposed state funded walk-in access programs like they have implemmented in Montanta and South Dakota.

All good issues and good ideas, but -

Both of these states (SD & MT) have strong no trespass laws that prohibit a hunter from hunting any private land with out permission. North Dakota on the otherhand is wide open.

If the NDG&F begins to "lease" land how do you keep landowners from posting their land do to frustration of not being included.

For example, my neighbor signs a contract with the NDG&F for $XX to let people hunt his land. I get nothing so out of anger/spite/or some other emotion, I shut my once open land to hunting. Net result may be less land overall.

In SD and MT the other land is already shut-off unless you ask permission.

Note that SD attempts to set up these walk-in areas as huge blocks of land. Maybe a section or two or three (less the farmsteads).

Some of the NDG&F PLOT land that has been leased is pretty pathetic. Not sure if they were being reseeded or modified, but I have even encountered some PLOT lands were bare soil in the fall.

On government "leasing" of harvested crop land for decoy hunters:

This idea is pretty tough to pull off. Birds do tend to hit the same fields every fall - so some type of local consulting or scouting reports could help.

When are the contracts with the farmer signed ? in August? What if the farmer that traditionaly placed barley in that "Hot" field went with flax ? What if the farmer put in sunflowers and did not harvest until November ? Money wasted ?

Walk-in land is probably best reserved for pheasant country. The birds typically stay close by.
 

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you know I will always have a opinion :' ) I hear what your saying. I to hate to see government try or end up running things. Private ownership of land always has and always will raise the majority of wildlife. & do a better job of it. I have always said find a way to pay farmers to raise ducks & we would have more ducks than we need. (am I dreaming - a surplus of ducks - pinch me) I'm not sure the principles of supply and demand can work here. I wish they could. If somehow private land owners could supply more birds & places to hunt. Than demand to hunt them ??? Then the price would come down & be reasonable for all to hunt ??? Can this be done ??? Or does there have to be government regulation ? I hate to go back & rehash the CRP issue of why is that posted. We blew the best chance ever, to have opened up lands to hunt with taxpayer money. Now were trying to reinvent a simuliar program & let hunters try & pay for it. $100 per day for pheasants and $200 to $300 per day for waterfowl. What if someone had a outfit like some of the big guides (say hunting coops) & had huge well managed lands. & charged a reasonable amount to have access - maybe even give them tax support & incentives ??? Someone mentioned a county stamp at the GF meeting ??? Ran by a honest board of caring (sportsmen/landowners) & maybe they hire real experts to make it all work ??? I totally agree this has to be in the best interest of the landowner. There is not enough money for Gov. plots type or even DU type projects to catch up to the demand.(thats why the Montana idea BLOCK Management looks so good) Plus there has to be major concerns for the resources. Or these things won't mean much, if it is only to make a quick buck off what is left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Blocks of land for resident game (deer, pheasants, sharptails) would definitely help.

Waterfowl would be more difficult. Each fall different areas of ND may have better peak duck and goose populations than other areas.

Heavy late summer rains or hail can create an area of duck food bonanza. An area between Carrington and Fessidan was hit with such a pattern in 2000. Farmers in this area were hit with hail and huge amounts of rain. Destroyed their crops, but this created a great place for ducks.

Waterfowl would sit out in these temporary sheet water areas by the tens of thousands. Hunters in search for ducks in traditional wetlands (WPAs) nearby or 50 miles away from these flooded fields probably complained that there were no ducks.

The area around the big refuges in northern ND were hit with late spring rains a few years back. Some areas along JCS NWF had planting rates below 20%. No food - likely few birds would stay too long.

The big storm last year created a snow goose meca for the I-94 corridore that they had rarely seen in the past 20 years. Traditional northern county areas had a minimal snow goose visit.

Waterfowl do not migrate simply north to south. It is well known that many ducks that nest in western MN migrate to ND in late August. Mallards like barely stubble and shallow wetlands. MN is full of deep wetlands and corn and soybeans that remain unharvested. Mallard find the food.

Since 1993 I have rarely hunted the same specific area from year to year. Ducks follow the water and food changes. We follow the ducks.

How can anyone anticipate these changes and account for them in any land set aside program.

Scouting, driving and driving more, watching weather patterns, talking with farmers (they know the spots over the hill and not visible from any main road) are keys to successful waterfowl hunting.
 

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Prairie hunter, I will respectfully disagree with your counterpoints about starting a walk-in or land lease program. The State of ND has always lagged behind other states when it comes to implementing land-owner programs. While true, the State is one of only a few that does allow the sportsmen to trespass without permission, it needs to be more proactive in getting the landowners involved. Also, it only takes one legislative vote and ND is just like every other state. Then what?

I will state that I am a full-blooded republican who feels that the govt. should not be involved in matters of regulating private landowners, etc. But lets look at the economics of ND. The state has been trying, unsuccessfully for years to attract any kind of business, economic development for years, while not rallying to save the local farmer/rancher. Go to any small town and look at what is left, a few very successful farmers that are buying up all of the defunct mom and pop farms.

If the ND were to start a land lease program, at least these private landowners would have the choice to participate and have the opportunity to earn some extra income. It is simply their choice. Colorado just started a walk in access program, and to date they have secured over 100,000 acres of land.

To me, 100,000 acres of land is better than zero. Look no further than any WPA and associated uplands, you always see people hunting for upland or waterfowl on these parcels. While not every parcel of land may be ideal for waterfowl, they most likely will provide other hunting opportunities.

I believe it is in the best interest of all sides to give those sportsmen who are willing to pay, an opportunity to participate in a program where the landowners reap some financial benefits. Once you got the landowners involved, then you would also open the door to allow discussions on conservation and restoration opportunities, food plots, tree plantings, etc. After all, the sportsmen is the biggest conservationist of all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would love the walk-in access program I was just presenting some counterpoints to consider.

Ducks are as political as a topic can be. Look at the Southern states with their late season extension attempts.

There are already some farmers who feel they did not have a chance to participate in PLOTs.

Write your representative and state senator. Get going now. I look forward to your success.

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-03-15 12:49 ]
 

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I am not a "sportsman" (hunter) or landowner. I live in Dickinson so I am familiar with the views of many (not all) who are landowners in this part of the state and I feel compelled to explain some things.

The fact is, fee hunting is here and it will be hard to uproot. Complaining about it and other access problems (CRP, Posting, etc.) only alienates these landowners and makes it less likely that they will allow people to hunt on their land.

It boils down to this: "What are sportsmen willing to give to the landowner?" To listen to some radio call-in shows it would appear that the answer is "nothing." I don't think this is a reasonable cross-section of the sportsmen of North Dakota. But the fact remains, fee hunting gives the land-owner something for having people on his land.

Every land-owner I have ever talked to has shared stories of awful experiences with "sportsmen" (or at least those who use the title). They tell of times when litter (beer cans, potato chip bags, etc.) are left in their fields, gates are left open, and new roads appear in the middle of fields and pastures, and even acts of vandalism ("No Hunting" signs are shot at--if the hunter does not see a bright orange sign, I don't know if I want a gun in his hand). With fee hunting, the landowner is at least compensated and has some say in who hunts their land and for how long.

I have even talked to some landowners in the Cannonball Company who allow some people to hunt on their land--prime land--at little or no cost. What are they doing that people with trouble getting access are doing, it is simple, they give something back. Maybe they are willing to help out on the farm/ranch during the summer, maybe they are flexible and willing to come at the end of the season; or at mid week, not the weekend. My point is not that these will guarantee you access (I am not the owner) but that offers like this go over better than showing up opening day and standing in line to ask permission to hunt.

As for CRP land, I don't know of any court decision that has said that it should/is public land for hunting. The purpose of this federal program was to give farmers incentive to take land ("highly-erodable") out of production. It has several benefits such as providing habitat for wildlife (not necessarily to be hunted on that land), soil conservation, and also decreasing the number of bushels of surplus grain. The landowner still has responsibilities to maintain that land such as ridding it of noxious weeds, and the payments are not very large per acre compared to the fact that the farmer is not gaining income from the land and it does have some nominal costs (ie chemical sprays). If "sportsmen" are correct and this is public land, then the best thing to do is go to court and make your case so at least you have legal ground to stand on when stating that it is public land.

Also, keep in mind the economic impact of a fee hunting organization. Again I will use the Cannonball Company as an organization familiar to many people. According to a Bismarck Tribune article last May 20 the Company brought in close to $300,000. That means that it is an industry that brings in almost $1000 per person in the town. That would be the proportionally equivalent of a Bismarck/Mandan industry bringing in over $50 million. What area wouldn't love to have that kind of influx of money.

My point is that I understand the frustration felt by good sportsmen about their inability to gain access to the best land. These are valid complaints. However, all that is currently being done is battle lines are being drawn by sportsmen who want to be able to do whatever they want and wherever they want. These bad apples are ruining it for everyone. While most landowners are pleased with the influx of money, their main benefit from fee hunting is that it shows the value of their land (not great farmland in many cases) and eliminates the trouble of an endless line of hunters in the first couple of weeks of the season.

From someone who lives in SW ND and works with landowners frequently, the best strategy for sportsmen at this time is to:

1. Contact the landowner early, in February and March if possible. Not on opening day!!!

2. Be prepared to offer something. Maybe time in the summer away from pheasant season, maybe a share in the kill, service that you alone are qualified to offer...something other than the honor of having you hunt on their land.

3. Try to forge a relationship. Send a christmas card or a box of chocolates at New Years. Something to indicate that you value them for more than the land.

4. And I know the "good hunters" already know this, but "no means no." The landowner does not have to justify keeping his land empty. Maybe he wants to hunt. Maybe he has promised it to family/friends. Do not go onto their land despite their objection. Actions like these are what brought on the access problem.
 

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Hi Westerner

I sense your post is very real & honest. & as a hunter, I don't like those things you describe either. (& I don't think most here do) I also have to say I think a portion (maybe alot)of it is also Urban / Rural Legend ??? These same things have been said for, I don't know how long ??? Most likely forever. While I don't doubt some (maybe even most) has been true at one time or another. I just don't think they are as common as some would lead you to believe ???

In fact, I believe some of what you express is also just mean spirited ways of saying, they don't want hunters, or really like hunting. Don't care about the concerns of hunters. Money is the only factor to them. (& yes they have that right) It is there land. But thats not what this site, or the meetings & controversy lately is about. Your right about it, but most of us know those things, & some need to be learned & done better by some.

We discuss problems & try to come up with solutions. I'm sure the cafe talk out there is alot different. :smile:

That is why I said I did'nt want to rehash the CRP issues - It's over. But it is too bad someone did'nt tie it to open hunting - to make taxpayers all feel part of the program. Maybe it could - would have been made to be alot better for all - with very little opposition.

On the pay to hunt - you are again right that it is here to stay - but instead of being run by greedy / questionable(ethics) folks. Or by individuals - where libility & bother can be issues. We look for ways to have win - win for all sides.

You have stated problems from their perspective. But do you, or they, have any new solutions ??? I wish they would consider other options, that could benefit & be prosperous to them & keep ND a wonderful place for all to stay & live.

Isn't some of their economic future also dependant on having other people living up here besides farmers ???

[ This Message was edited by: Fetch on 2002-03-16 16:53 ]
 

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I saw in the Minot paper yesterday that the ND Guides and Outfitters Assoc.has asked for a sit down meeting with the Sportsmans Alliance and the ND Wildlife Federation to try and work out the problems.As of yet they have not agreed to do so.At least these meetings have brought the issues to the talking stage before the next Legislature.
 

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I feel that it is unfair to simply dismiss the thoughts of land-owners when it comes to hunting on their land. The incidents I refer to have been told to me first hand by land-owners and not as recollections of what has happened to other people in the distant past, but as recently as that (or previous) hunting seasons. Whether you believe it or not, this is the view held by many landowners who are restricting access to their land, and some of it is great hunting land.

I have tried to propose solutions. I am sorry if they are in contradiction to the common view held by those on this site, but I am simply addressing the questions asked. The fact is that the landowners that are restricting access to their land are not doing it as a political statement ("I don't like hunters,") nor as a strictly financial decision. My previous post referred to other things that restrict access as much or more than "money."

First of all, a lot of this land was posted "No Hunting" even before there was any fee-hunting in this part of the country. Also, fee-hunting does offer the land-owner some sense that his land is valued (in an abstract as well as concrete sense).

Talking to one land-owner he said that opening day was like getting 50 telemarketer calls. While most (if not all) hunters do not mean to be an inconvenience when asking to hunt the fact is that each time the land-owner is interrupted from what he is doing when in his mind he has already made his intentions clear by posting his land. My proposed solution is for hunters to contact the land-owner early and be prepared to show the land-owner some advantage to him/her of letting you hunt on their land. Because, trust me, as soon as they see the hunter orange approaching their door on opening, they are taking a breath to say "no."

As for "pay to hunt" being run by "greedy/questionable (ethics) folks" the fact is that in this part of the state they are run by people that the land-owner knows and trusts. That fact, more than a dangled check, is the reason for their popularity among some land-owners. My question is, what is questionable about their ethics in charging for access to land they control (by permission of the land-owner)

I am afraid that until the needs of the land-owners are addressed, there will be problems gaining access to their commodity. I am all for hunters hunting, but I think it needs to be more symbiotic and agreed on by both sides. Only then will "No Hunting" signs start to come down.

[ This Message was edited by: westerner on 2002-03-21 11:23 ]
 

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Living in Fargo I really can't comment on the struggles of a lot of farmers out west. We struggle in Fargo too. My wife drives 25 miles to work each day to help make our payments and during these cold mornings we get our 3 year old son up and take him daycare because we have to right now. I think I speak for most hunters here when I say that I can't afford $150.00 a day to hunt but I can afford $150.00 to buy an access stamp and give the money to struggling landowners who are gracious enough to provide me access. I know it isn't as much as they can make fee hunting, but I would hope it helps. We also need to do our part to report those who are unlawful and strain landowner relations. Despite comments from some board members most want people to come from out of state. these small towns need the hotels filled, but i think there needs to be a limit that sits well with most people. I think we are getting some good ideas out and can work together to reach some positive solutions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Moderate guiding operations have formed in a few areas that I used to heavily hunt.

What I have found is a "waterfowl lodge" may lease or post say 6,000 acres. Well waterfowl don't stay within those 6,000 acres - they go where the food is good and hunting pressure is low. These guides follow them and begin hunting on free land with paying customers.

The landowners next to these lodges are neighbors, but not necessarily his friend.
That guy is making money off my land and yet sends nothing back to me. The other landowners begin posting land to keep the guiding / lodge building neighbor off their land.

These farmers are usually glad to let a freelance hunter onto their property.

The tough part for the freelance hunter is separating what is what. All this land has become closed to hunting; some is leased the rest is in response to the lease.

Posting signs can be different, but not always. Usually they all have the same signs bought at the local Cenex.

So a lodge forms in your hunting area and 1/4 of the land is posted for his operation. Another 1/2 of the land in this area is posted to keep these guides off. The remaining 1/4 of the land that is not posted but offers little quality hunting opportunity. Thus the area becomes "difficult" to hunt.

Speak to farmers around the large guiding operations that are not part of the lease. This scenario is occurring over much of ND. Some guides will tell you they always pay a farmer for their access - this is likely the exception not the rule.
 
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