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This was in Sunday's Forum (local paper).

Fee hunting means for survival
Associated Press
The Forum - 03/24/2002
REGENT, N.D. - The Cannonball Co. is housed in a doublewide modular building, just off main street, one of the newest buildings in town.

Manager Pat Candrian explains that it was bought in Grand Forks a couple of years ago - flood-related housing, repossessed by a bank and then moved to Regent to be headquarters for the fee-hunting operation. During the pheasant season, the building is the dispatch center for the company's 13 guides and as many as 70 hunters a day.

In the past several weeks, Cannonball Co. has been at the center of a controversy. Its members successfully lobbied Gov. John Hoeven to move the pheasant season up a week, so that corner of the state could serve more clients.

A promise from Hoeven, however, put him in political hot water with state resident hunters who are upset with the proliferation of out-of-state hunters.

Seven of eight advisory board members rejected the governor's proposal for an earlier date, and Hoeven one day later announced he would scrap the plan. Some hunters said they should have been consulted earlier.

"We didn't want to be at the center of things," Candrian said. "Maybe we're just the most visible."

Candrian, 48, knows something about surviving on the land. He lives on the home farm place, about five miles east of Regent. His family has been involved with the Cannonball Co. for all of its 10 years.

His wife, Linda, was one of its organizers and was chairman of the board. Pat, one of its first guides, has managed the company for six years, with Linda's help.

Pat, the youngest son in a dairying family, moved to California to work on a dairy farm there, but returned to North Dakota.

"California had 'different' people,'" he recalled.

"You can't beat North Dakota people," he said. "My heart is in North Dakota, and it's the people who make the state what it is."

The Candrians milked cows for nearly 22 years, until 1997.

"It was always a downhill battle with the farm," Candrian said. "It was either quit and salvage the land and keep on going with your life, or keep on farming and maybe lose it all.

"If I'd known there was such a good life after milking cows, I would have done it 10 years earlier," he said.

"That's except for the last few weeks (of controversy)," he added.

The Cannonball Co. ran its first hunt in 1991.

"The company started with a group of local farmers, basically, who got together back in tough times and low commodity prices," Candrian said. "They said, 'We've got these pheasants; we've got a resource we can market.'"

The group set up the company as an S-corporation, meaning income passes through to shareholders who are taxed individually on their corporate income, according to accountants. A common goal in an S-corporations is to pay less Social Security tax than in other corporate forms.

There were 18 stockholders. Original stockholders each received 100 shares. People contributing land, lodging or guiding received another 50 shares.

In its first year, Cannonball handled 54 hunts. A hunt is one person hunting one day. This past year, Cannonball handled 1,200 hunting days and sold about $20,000 in hunting licenses.

At $200 a day, the activity produced roughly $250,000 in revenue a year, spread among 50 different people -shareholders and guides.

Candrian draws a sharp distinction between Cannonball and others who simply lease the hunting rights.

"We do not control their hunting rights," he said. "The landowner still has his hunting rights."

Board member Barb Mayer and her husband, Vern, farm and own the Dancing Dakota bed-and-breakfast. They were among Cannonball's early organizers.

The Mayers own 1,250 acres of land, and about 250 acres are heavily hunted by Cannonball.

Barb Mayer estimates the income from the hunters - the land and 150 "hunter nights" in their bed-and-breakfast -accounts for about a fifth of their family's net annual income.

Cannonball brings in the clients and assigns each to a guide and a place to hunt.

The guide keeps track of how many birds are harvested off each landowner's land, and the company pays the landowner accordingly. The compensation rate was $15 per bird last year and is going to $17 a bird this coming year.

Landowners enrolled 25,000 acres in Cannonball in the mid-1990s. Today, the company involves about 40,000 acres, including three-fourths farmland.

Candrian notes that of the 500 or so hunters last year, about 60 were from North Dakota - about 10 percent. About two-thirds were corporate hunts.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, airports in Dickinson and Bismarck would have had slower going without hunters. About 90 percent of Cannonball's clients fly in, totaling more than 400 flights.

Initially, the federal government subsidized much of the development through CRP and other conservation programs. In recent years, landowners have been financing their own planting so they can control it and maintain it for maximum pheasant habitat. One landowner planted 50,000 trees on his land and installed water holes.

"He's developing that section of land primarily for pheasants because it is poor cropland," Candrian said. "And he's doing it without government payments."

Candrian said some North Dakota resident hunters have developed strong relationships with farmers and ranchers. But in general, he said, North Dakota resident hunters "have to get away from the mindset that they have the right to hunt your ground.

"They have to realize they need to develop that relationship, or you're not going to get to hunt on it," Candrian said.

Barb Mayer said the resident hunters often drive up in a $40,000 Suburban and don't want to pay to hunt. "We're driving a 1989 diesel, and the doors fly open when we turn the corner," she said.

"Well, what about the privileges we've lost?" she said. "We've lost our high school. We've consolidated our teams, so we don't have people coming to town for games, stopping at the co-op or the library. We don't have UND (University of North Dakota) in our back yard with students coming, buying stuff.

"This is all we have," she said. "We finally found a product that has value that we can be proud of."

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Remember it's tough out in SW ND. Like it's just great in eastern ND!!! How much do we make in Fargo compared to the rest of the nation?? If Cannonball wants to help us stuggling homeowners in Fargo maybe we should charge access to our backyards!!

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I might get a group together to go out to these fee groups in Mott and trying to raise money for struggling home owners in Fargo. :sniper:
One of these clowns actually said their clients fly in and buy their supplies in Fargo etc etc etc. Show me the receipts. If I was taking a trip to Nebraska I sure wouldnt wait to buy my shells there. Nice try guys but that really was a weak statement :puke:

Eric Hustad
Fishing and Big Game Director
Nodak Outdoors Field Staff

[ This Message was edited by: Eric Hustad on 2002-03-25 15:10 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Eric Hustad on 2002-03-25 15:17 ]

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Didn't that outfit start leasing land around Medina last year so they could start booking waterfowl hunters also?

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I also thought the game in the state was the property of the state. If they are, some of the statements in the post are very disturbing. Some of the statements:
1. We've got a resource we can market. I thought they were charging for access, not the pheasants.
2. The landowner still has the hunting rights. I'm going to have to find out who's in the Cannonball Club and ask for permision to hunt from the landowner. He implies they can give permission.
3. Compensation is based on the number of birds killed on each ranchers land. Again, are the pheasants their property to sell?

I remember a number of years ago when the pheasants were in bad shape due to blizards and lack of food. The ranchers in the SW area actually put an ad in the Forum asking for donations for food to feed the birds. If in fact they own the birds and can charge hunters based on the number of birds killed, then I say let them feed them in the winter when things get tough also.

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In regards to owning the birds. Front page of Minot Daily on Sunday 3-24 "The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1842 that wildlife belongs to the public." I challenge any hunting attorneys out there to see if there is an angle that can be taken to prevent the selling of the birds, since the Cannonball Co. has admitted they are selling birds, not just charging for access.

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846 Posts
The Federal government controls the sale of migratory birds (ducks and geese), but pheasants are controlled by the individual states. MResner will need to keep searching the ND Century Code. Good Luck.

The comments below are from the US F&W web site:

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects more than 800 species of migratory birds - almost every common wild bird found in the United States except the house sparrow, starling, feral pigeon, and resident game birds such as pheasant, grouse, quail, and wild turkey. (These game birds are managed separately by the states.)

The Act prohibits the possession and sale of the parts and feathers of migratory birds. Use of feathers or parts from protected species in craft items and any sale of such articles would violate this law.

Feathers from legally hunted migratory waterfowl (ducks, geese, brant, and swans) may be used to make such utilitarian retail items as fishing flies, bed pillows, and mattresses. But feathers from these and other legally taken migratory game birds cannot be used commercially for "ornamental" purposes and are thus not appropriate materials for artists who sell their work.


One other Federal law that could be in violation is the Lacey Act. It forbids interstate transport of illegally taken gamebirds including pheasants. This might be a stretch.

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The fact that they are now doing the same thing for waterfowl is truly disturbing. Not to say what they've been doing with pheasants hasn't been disturbing all's just really tough to think that waterfowl hunting could be headed in the same direction. Can we say "cap" anyone?

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505 Posts
Water resources and their associated wildlife are tied to the "public trust domain." If you are not familiar with this concept, I will briefly introduce the roots and where the public trust doctrine has been applied.

Under Roman law it was stated "by the law of nature these things are common to all mankind; the air, running water, the sea, and consequently the shores of the sea." What this meant was that the rivers, ports, sea, shores of the sea, and rights to fish in and use those areas belonged to the public trust. Stated another way, the "ownership" of such areas was deemed an inherent element of sovereignty. Thus, under the common law, these public rights were inalienable and could not be transferred by the government into private ownership, any more than could any other governmental power held by the sovereign. This concept, which came to be known as "the public trust for commerce, navigation and fisheries," eventually found its way into American law.

What does this mean to you? The public trust doctrine is an affirmation of the duty of the State (it does not matter where you live) to protect people's common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands, surrendering that right only in rare cases when abandonment of that right is consistent with the purposes of the trust. Or stated another way, the State has the responsibility to protect the continued sustainability of an ecosystem so that people can benefit from its common heritage resources, their uses, and ecological values. This is a moral obligation of the State supported by case law under the principles of the public trust doctrine, which dates back to the Roman era.

In today's society, the public trust doctrine is usually applied by the Federal Clean Water Act (as amended) to protect against all unsuitable uses of the federal and State's waters (through the Section 401 of the Clean Water Act). What is fascinating about the public trust is that it is now shifting from water issues to wildlife resources. Most case law supported the Public trust doctrine by impacting uses of water that were considered unsuitable to downstream users ranging from pollution, diminished aesthetics or natural beauty, interference with the right of the public to enjoy a natural resource of state or national significance, or threatening to upset the ecological balance of nature.

I recently attended a seminar on this subject, and as the speaker said, "…all you need is some ambition, money, and a very creative lawyer, and the Public trust doctrine has great practicability to protect your public trust rights when it comes to wildlife."

In essence, all "State" wildlife is held in perpuity within the "public trust." This public trust resource (furbearers, large mammals, and upland game in this case) is administered by the state wildlife commission and implemented by the NDFG via rules, code, etc. So to conclude, if an entity is degrading a "public trust" resource, you have recourse to sue that entity via this doctrine.

[ This Message was edited by: bioman on 2002-03-26 13:06 ]

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846 Posts

A road well traveled lately. In the 2001 ND legislative session, the guides and outfitters had "confiscated" or had allocated their needed share of licenses 2,500 (about 10% of 25,000 at one point). Search out some of the previous posts for past discussions.

Outfitters already take half of the available NR deer licenses which they can then sell as a package hunt on the internet for $1500 to $2500.

Caps will certainly reduce the overall number of NR hunters in ND.

Unless ND sportsman are diligent and at the top of the legislative game -- the big outfitters will get every license they need and probably more.

Someone look back at a previous post on the Casselton meeting. Did the guy owning the Streeter guide service (HUGE # of acres under lease) even propose that all NRs should be required to hire a guide ??

The Medina area was one of my favorite areas to duck and crane hunt in the 1980s. I drove through this area in 1999. There are two lodges in Medina, one in Streeter and now Cannonball is moving in too (or did they affiliate with one of the two lodges already in Medina ??)

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40,000 acres tied up for only 1,200 hunter days total. :******: That is way too much land for only 440 nonresident, 59 resident, and one governor hunters. :******:

About 70 hunters/day on 40,000 acres is 1 hunter per 571 acres (that is almost a section apiece guys) :******:

Think there may be a serious under harvest of roosters on this land ? :mad:

Hope none of these landowners have depredation issues in the winter :mad:

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844 Posts
Field Hunter,
You are referring to:
NDCC 20.1-01-03. Ownership and control of wildlife is in the state
Schedule of monetary values. The ownership of and title to all wildlife within this state is in the state for the purpose of regulating the enjoyment, use, possession, disposition, and conservation thereof, and for maintaining action for damages as herein provided.

Your argumment is supported by NDCC:

Everything has an owner. (NDCC 47-01-09)

The game animals belong to, and are controlled by, the state. (NDCC 20.1-01-03)

Individuals own the land, not the game animals on the land. (NDCC 47-01-04; 47-01-12 )

Landowners who charge for hunting access are "exercising unauthorized control over" game animals. (e.g., no individual can sell access to a state owned computer or car or whatever even if it is located an an individual's property). This is theft of property from the state (NDCC 12.1-23-02.)

This deprives the state of economic value of something that belongs to the state (NDCC 12.1-23-10.3.)

NODAK OutDoors should ask ND's Attorney's General for an opinion on such matters.


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Wow !!! If thats real those folks might all turn into preserves. I don't mind preserves - if thats for you - go for it (can be excellant way to work a dog) & many don't have time to really HUNT. But to try & turn so much area into a preserve is ridiculas.

I have wondered what Pheasants Forever must feel about their hard work - being sold & now alot of members & donors are unable to persue the birds, they have helped to provide ??? Plus the G&FD has stocked birds in areas & if successful in getting them established & lucky enough to have nature cooperate. Then the areas get posted & the birds sold ??? These areas could be great for all if programs like plots and block management were implemented & farmers & landowners were handsomely rewarded. Why are so many, so stubborn, on looking at alternatives ???

To bad these things have to be learned, with a us against them attitude & the other sides (many who are not hunters or landownwers) trying to spin things in their favor ??? Instead of finding real solutions to problems they have created ???
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