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6375 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  prairie hunter
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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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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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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