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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've refrained from commenting on the current controversies swirling around hunting issues in North Dakota, but I have now been compelled to speak. I attended the recent Game & Fish Advisory Hearing held in Dickinson, and heard Gene Harris, President of the ND Stockmen's Assn make statements which certainly sounded to me to be a threat to deny access to hunters. Yesterday, I heard a news story on KFYR radio, and was interested enough in that story so I went to KFYR'S website and read it. To quote, "Observers of the debate about ND's pheasant season say its full effect won't be known until fall. That is when the 'No Hunting' signs could go up on more pheasant land. Rural business people and landowners say there's a lot of anger about hunter opposition to an early pheasant opener. Lowell Prince runs a bed and breakfast in Regent that caters to hunters. He says he's hearing a lot of talk about posted land in his area this fall." That sure looks like another threat.

The truth of the matter is that both the threats from the Stockmen's Assn and the commercial hunting operations are hollow. In the case of the "Grazers" of the public land; they have NO control over access to the public grasslands. They would certainly like to have the authority to close those public lands to all but their own self-interest, but for now at least, they will have to content themselves with their heavily subsidized grazing rates.

As to the commercial hunting interests in the Regent area; nearly ALL of the pheasant habitat in that area is in the hands of the commercial interests or absentee owners and lessees. What little land is open to non-fee hunting is quickly inundated with hunters forced away from of the "hunt for dollars" places. The result is that the miniscule amount of open land can't provide sufficient quality hunting opportunity, and hunters unwilling to concede to the selling of the public resources don't have much land or opportunity to lose. So the threat of more "No Hunting" signs is an empty one. The truth is that there just aren't many places left around Regent to put up another "No Hunting" sign. Many more and the signs will have to be planted in rows, like corn stalks.

The access/non-resident numbers/absentee landownership/wildlife management questions in North Dakota are far from settled. The pheasant opener date was a very small victory for the sportsmen of North Dakota, and while a small victory is certainly better than a loss, there is a danger of letting that small victory result in a return to apathy. The commercial hunting interests are well organized, well funded (some, such as tourism development, by our own tax dollars), and well connected politically.

If you're a North Dakota hunter, you must realize that no one is going to protect your interests except YOU! Don't let yourself be intimidated. Speak out, it works, just look at what the large turn-outs for the Advisory Hearings accomplished. Join a sportsmen's group. Get informed. Propose a positive idea. Don't threaten or confront. Contact your legislator, and learn his/her positions. If you don't like your legislator's position, get to work to elect someone who will represent you in the next session of the legislature.

Boy, did that get long. If you're stil sticking with me, I hope you're interested enough to convert that interest into action!
 

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Great Post! I think that to some extent we might see some problems with landowners this fall. Like you said, it's going to be hard for them to put up any more "No Hunting" signs. The thing is that there's a lot of farmers who do post their land who allow access with permission...especially later on in the season when there is little hunting pressure. So yes, there land is posted, but they will allow some access. What I'm afraid of is that we're going to lose access to those places where the farmer may be "reserving" his land for friends or family but later on allow people to hunt. They may simply turn down everyone who asks in spite. Although I think this was an important issue that sportsmen had to stand up for I do feel there is going to be some repricussions that we'll have to pay in the form of a lot of farmers not willing to let anyone hunt their land.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Kudos to you, Matt. I am always glad to see someone post who is willing to use their name rather than a "handle".

I have certainly considered your concern that some landowners may further limit access out of spite. But I certainly wouldn't agree with your use of, "a lot", of farmers doing so. In the first place, my comments only referred to the Regent area, and there simply aren't many farmers there who allow more than miniscule access such as you describe. Most good pheasant habitat in that area is tied up in commercial hunting operations. Let me say it again, there simply are , "few", not, "a lot" of instances similar to the ones you describe.

Another factor is that the good folks you describe; those who reserve hunting opportunity for friends and family, are not the commercial operations. The people you are concerned with are not the type to threaten, or engage in 'cheap shot' retaliation. Heck you seldom hear from them at all. They just get tired of SO-O-O many hunters with Minnesota license plates.
 

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Mresner,
That was a great post.

Matt,
I have found that being a young hunter(20), farmers are more apt to deny me access than say a "more responsible" hunter, or an older hunter. I am lucky enough to have family owned land in a decent area, and I know for a fact that if anyone asked my grandparents to hunt their land, they would be more than willing to allow access. This may be more the exception rather than the rule.

My fears lie deeper in the fact of land owners looking at me as being young, and immature. I dont want to label all land owners, but this is the feeling I get when asking for permission. I think it is easier for elder hunters to gain access than it is for say teenagers and those in their early twenties.
 

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It is without a doubt the Commercial interests that are trying their hardest, to now turn this into a issue of get mad at the hunters. They are spining this to make non-paying hunters look bad any way possible. They see it as losing one battle, in their long term war to convert ND to their special interests. It is easy to make farmers & landowners even more frustrated then they are. & have them take that frustration out on freelance hunters.

The Farm Beureau tried last fall with their signs. A few years ago it was all the signs telling hunters to stop the USFWS from implementing Swamp Buster & No net loss.

I have found these folks to be mean spirited /angry all the time. In general the types that need Medical Help to solve their problems (no reason for anyone to be that angry & depressed today)- but most likely never will. They would not allow hunting if everything went their way.

I respect farming & want them to make it. I want them to profit anyway they can. But with the best interests of all ND'ins. Not just the fast talkin (or should I say locals in pursuit of $$$ hunting, that know how to speak the local language of Negativity ??? Or promise to solve their concerns privately. (right now I don't blame then for not trusting Government)

Now the cry is to spend more on PLOTS ??? Not spend more on a new programs Like Montana's Block management - where they could lease, many times more, land & make it available sooner. (& it AINT JUST PHEASANTS!!!)

The Govenor still does not get the real problems or possible solutions. I also wonder if the G&FD does either ??? I'm sure most of the regional advisors DON"T. Lets Hope the Judisary B Committe does & maybe some other Legislative Leaders that Hunt. (WILL THE G&FD Director, under his own powers, make some decisions & try to implement them ??? without the Govenors OK ???)Stand up & say this is what should be done ??? Or just be a go with the flow political yes man ???

We (freelance hunters from the cities) are NOT THE ENEMY OF THE FARMER OR LANDOWNER. In fact we want to make it better for you. Better for your all communities - Better for Economic Development - better for the Hospitality folks. Many things have been suggested the past few months that could. Pheasantgate only brought these things to sportsmen & women & united us. Who demanded others to take a look. Now is the time to keep this thing going. We all need to Join either the Sportmens Allinace or County Wildlife Federations (Or Both). So they can continue to carry the ball on all this.

The ones that can make changes, are still trying to figure this all out. If all they hear now is the commercial interests sides & the damage control sides - we will lose the momentum that was just earned. If they are bombarded with facts & ideas NOW & for sometime to come. Maybe ??? Just MAYBE !!! they will see the truth & try to do what is right - for a change. If Not, CHANGE, Will have to be done at the Ballot box. Hopefully Both ???

How can we get the Farmers & Landowners & Hospitality people to Listen. Everyone I have spoke to individually say - I see - there are other ways, to solve these things. But no one really wants to come out & tell the other side ??? Stand up & say maybe we have been wrong about a few things. Why is that ???

Why do so many hate brainstorming things & coming up with creative answers - why is so easy to travel the path of most all other states ??? & let $$$ & profit be the ones that run or ruin what we have ??? (One step forward two steps back) :grin:

[ This Message was edited by: Fetch on 2002-03-22 16:35 ]
 

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I agree with Muskat. When I was in my early twenties, access to posted land was difficult at best. The best pheasant land from Lidgerwood to Oaks has ALWAYS been posted to NO Hunting. We almost always hunted public land. Access in December was granted occasionally when we dared ask.

Now I am in my thirties. I actually prefer to find birds (especially geese) on posted land. I am not afraid to ask. My success rate the past three years is over 95%. Of course I am not hunting in the backyard of the large leasing operations. If a large leasing outfitter opens its doors in my hunting area - my song may change.

If I find a goose field that is posted. I find the landowner and get permission. I also ask him to call me if he plans to let others hunt the next day too. The farmer is always invited to hunt with us.

This usually results in a field the next morning where our hunting party is the only one there. I get a little more sleep ... better chance for a quality hunt also.

Anyone who grew up hunting in ND knows what it is like when you set up several hundred snow decoys at 4:30 in the morning only to have some idiots show up 30 minutes before shooting time and set up a few hundred yards down wind from your spread. Or have five decoy spreads in one section of land.

Unposted land in goose country was a mixed blessing on a weekend decoy hunt. Miles of unposted land in goose country was great for those sneaking geese.

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-03-22 15:01 ]
 
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