PH, I don't mean to take a shot at you, but the personal conflict you feel as a long time ND hunter but now a nonresident tends to come out in your posts. You're conflicted, and I can never quite tell if you support the caps or not. You say so, but the tenor of your messages is also often defensive.
Enough Freud, now the facts:
You can't keep comparing today with the heyday of the 70's. First, as you said the snow goose was king then, and the bulk of all waterfowl hunting was done in fields. As you noted, many ducks were shot incidently to goose hunting. Yes, afternoon jump shooting and setups for ducks took place, but overall pressure on ducks was much less. Now that snow geese have evolved thousands of years in the past 20, they have become virtually unhuntable here, and the shift is to ducks - on the big water, little water and in the fields - hammer, hammer, hammer.
And since you're familiar with the hunter stats, you know that in 1977, for example, there were 63,000 resident and 8,000 nonresident waterfowlers. Because of the different hunting methods and efforts of res/nonres, those numbers actually produce less intensive pressure than the 35,000/30,000 split today. Statistics bear that nonresidents harvest 1.36 ducks for each duck harvested by a resident per day afield. Adjusting for that factor, we actually have a few thousand higher pressure units today, when hunters are now focusing on ducks as opposed to just viewing them as bonus. Relative pressure in ND as compared to surrounding areas has affected the snow goose migration patterns, and there is no reason to believe the ducks aren't far behind. With virtually no pressure south of mile marker 1, why would they stay here?
Also, at least for a while, the bulk of the ducks we hunt left their egg shells on ND soil. Recently we haven't and for the near future porbably won't have consistant migration flights to supplement the home-breds. Believe that was different too than in the 70's. Now, when we burn them out, there isn't waves and waves to take their place.
Finally, how many 16 foot, deep v, 90 horsepowered duck boats did you see up and down the byways in the 70's. I wish I would have hung onto the article, but I was stunned by a quote from Rostevet, I believe, at the time when the two waterfowl drowning incidents occured this fall. Something like 75-80% of nonresident hunters were thought to bring duck boats with them. I cringe when I see these boats, not because I have any desire to have one, but because the ducks now truly have no place to rest. Even the big roost water gets hammered now. Given the current res/nonres split, this has a huge impact on the birds' habits.
At the end of the day, the 70's don't parallel all that closely with today's situation. We can't and never will equal the harvest of the southern states. On average, we have an effective season of about 6 weeks. If we doubled the number of hunters, gross harvest totals may rise slightly, but per hunter numbers would drop and our effective season would shorten because of premature migration. On the plus side, we'd all make the Christmas card list of the SD waterfowlers.
PH, if you truly support the HPC, email the ND legislators, especially those on the House and Senate Natural Resource Committees. This goes for you too Dino. A message from nonresidents opposing caps does not recieve much attention - it's self serving and they hear that all the time. But, a message from you and other nonresidents that you (who have a much different stake in the game) see the need for reasonable caps to ensure that we maintain a premier waterfowl resource for everyone, even nonresidents, would likely get some attention. Every nonresident on this site who isn't oozing at the pores with cash and would like the opportunity to take a grandchild to this waterfowl paradise some day, can and should join in the efforts of residents. Heads will turn in Bismarck when legislators start hearing the same message from knowledgable nonresidents that they're hearing from resident sportspersons. Guys, we know why you want to come here - that's why many of us are here in the first place.