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Matt,

You bring up some good points. Many say that the numbers of NR hunters coming to Nodak will dwindle when the drought comes and the hunting declines. Well, hunting in AR has been down the last 2-3 years and I don't think their numbers have declined. If anything, drought will make the hunting even worse in AR and other states in the south and the hunters that have been paying/travelling to hunt there will pay to come to ND, even if the hunting is down significantly from historical levels. Most are used to paying for guides/lodging and will likely do the same when they come here.

As far as those guys buying land for hunting site-unseen in Nodak, why not? It is not uncommon for quality bottom-land that is only good for hunting to go from anywhere from $1000 to $5000 an acre in Missouri (if you don't believe me, let me know and I'll give you some references). Some of the duck clubs north of St Louis charge up to $30,000 per year for memberships.

I lived south of KC for four seasons and if you didn't own land, here were your options:

1. Show up at a state managed area at 4 am and hope to draw a low enough "pill" (basically a lottery) that would let you in to one of the better "pools" of the managed areas. Even if you got in, no guarantee that some idiot wouldn't set up 100 yards down wind of you and skybust the ducks that were swinging on your spread. On weekends at some of the hotter areas it wasn't uncommon for half the parties to go home because they didn't draw a low enough pill.

2. Show up at one of the unmanaged state game areas. Most of these areas didn't hold many ducks and, in my experience, they were very crowded.

3. Race to the spot on Truman Lake. Many of the guys who guided on Truman Lake had their clients meet them at the boat launch at 1 a.m. so they could be first to the "hot spot" (all COE/public land). They would advertise boats with sleeping bunks and they would serve breakfast. I believe the going rate was around $200 per gun per day (hey, breakfast was included!)

4. Lease a blind. Cheapest I saw on the western side was $1000 per season per blind.

5. Join a hunting club. On the western side, there is a club that leases 250,000 acres and has 500-700 members. Membership was $750 per year. Most of the land was open farmland good for turkey, deer or upland game. They had about 8 duck leases and it was first come first served--call in advance to reserve a blind and you would likely get paired up with one or two other hunters. This is the route I took.

I looked at a non-guided hunt in AR for this year. No lodging, no meals; access to a flooded rice field and that was it. Cost was $200 per gun per day.

So, the bottom line (IMHO): as much as many guys south of the line are paying, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they turned to Nodak to hunt as the hunting gets worse down there (no matter what the cost, no matter how bad it is--it's still relatively cheaper/better than what they can get down there).
 
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