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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Below is a copy of a "letter to the Editor" I am sending to every ND news or local paper I can get a physical or email address too. This proposal should solve all our problems :roll:

Economic Development via Access!

As an avid outdoorsman I was shocked to learn of the increasing amount of land used for fee hunting operations. Land that used to be available to ND Sportsman is now off limits due to fee charging landowners and lands leased by outfitters and guides. In addition, land purchased by wealthy non-residents specifically for hunting purposes not only restricts hunting access, but drives up cash rents for competing local farmers. The people engaged in these activities have proclaimed this is economic development for the rural communities and will help them protect their rural way of life!

At first I opposed this whole initiative! But more recently, I have come to embrace the whole idea! After getting this years property tax and state income tax figures, I came to the conclusion that we should all embrace this idea. If it can work for the rural communities, surely it can work for residents of North Dakota cities. We can all benefit from this well thought out rural economic stimulus plan. Here is what I propose to help residents of North Dakota cities survive these tough economic times.

First, each and every city with a population over 10,000 people should put toll booths on each road entering their city. Similar to our rural counter-parts who charge up to $100.00 per day to hunt their lands and gain access to a state resource, the toll booth attendants would check to determine the residency of the people trying to access the city and charge according. For example, if a car loaded with passengers from Mott pulled up to enjoy our cheap groceries, fine dining and shopping, the tollbooth attendant would charge the customary $100.00 per person/day to access our cities resources. Imagine the revenue that could be generated to offset our property taxes and boost our local economies. In addition, I propose that each city with a major airport charge a touchdown fee of $250.00 for any non-resident hunters accessing our fine state through our airport!

This should help ease the property tax burden local city residents absorb to help support the infrastructure necessary for all these fine services, including the hospitals. Just as private landowners have the ability to "do what they want with their land, city residents should have the same rights to charge "non-city" folks to use our services?? The potential of this rural economic plan saving our ND cities is phenomenal! It is hard to imagine we never thought of this sooner?

Now, if you are critical of this plan and think it is ridiculous, you have a first hand understanding of how resident sportsman from ND cities feel when we visit your local communities that embrace fee hunting!!!!!!
 

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Bronco, I think you can put most of the NR in the same boat as you. Although there are some that pay these rates, many more simply choose the freelance route and spend their money in the form of hotels, restaurants and gas stations. When fee hunting comes to an area, us NR freelancers leave and so does our $$. Who really supports the town, an outfitter or a freelance hunter? How many people really pay for fee hunting, both res and nonres? I could be wrong, but I dont think that many in terms of numbers do. I am a nonres and I love your state and plan to spend money there for years to come. I love to take my dad out there and get him some shooting. I am going to come fishing with my wife this year. I just hope all the controversy this is stirring up does not impact me, the freelance hunter and fisherman.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just for the record, I wouldn't care if things went back to the way they were in regards to non-resident caps. I think our resources can handle alot of non-resident hunters= provided access is available. In my opinion outfitters and fee hunting organizations are the ones that SCREWED everything up. Can ND handle 40,000 non-residents on a good year? Damn right- providing the resource (wildlife) is healthy and abundant and there is access. The problem is access and if we don't get it resolved, hunting will suck for all who don't have a mighty big checkbook. ND does not have the public land other states have and without access there just isn't room for everyone. I plan to stir things up as much as I can, but don't worry things can't get any worse. 85% of this state is posted and quickly being leased up and if we can't put a stop to it- YOU the non-resident hunters will be in the same crappy boat as us residents!!! We have to work together and gain access through some means that benefit all, not just one greedy group of outfitters!!!
 

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Interesting...will look for your letter in the paper.BUT...I live in a town of 2,500.Guess I will have to pay $200 everytime I take my wife to Minot.At that rate I won't be able to do any hunting! :eyeroll: :eyeroll:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nothing personal- it just the principal of the matter :D Just trying to show fee hunters/landowners how ridiculous they are :eyeroll:
 

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Bronco, don't mean to be "preachy", but sometimes I think we need to be a little careful what we ask for. It would be nice if more productive waterfowl ground would be more available, and that would certainly ease the overcrowding. But, even with less crowding, I think the overall effect would be negative if the greater availability were used to justify more pressure/hunters. Just a short flight to the North and South, the birds get dramatically less pressure that is already affecting their migration patterns, and towards the tail end of the season, those that stay develop all sorts of survival habits, like hanging on the larger refuges and feeding once, mid day. This because they're now hammered in ND over and over, and everywhere: on the roost water, loafing water and in the fields.

As I've responded to PH and DP in the past, we need to lose pressure for waterfowl if we want to regain the resource. More access alone will mean we won't stand shoulder to shoulder, but we'll be spread out and all watching empty skies or the overflight to the land of 6,000 nonresident hunters.

Upland's a different story - they can only go so far to escape pressure. There, additional access could allow for more hunters, but we'd need to pick up several counties in the SW to get ahead of the trend that started about 6 years ago.

The decline of quality hunting, upland and waterfowl, is a complicated situation and no one approach will bring it back. This session we need to work on measures that reduce hunter days (often related to, but more important than, gross number of hunters), discourage the buying and leasing of land for hunting and curtail the proliferation of outfitters that lock up land for all but a very wealthy few.

I appreciate your efforts, but again, be careful what you ask for......
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Dan, good points and I appreciate them. I guess- I get caught up in the upland game thing more than waterfowl- even though I mostly waterfowl hunt nowdays. I still have a "thorn" in my "foot" because I used to love to pheasant hunt and I have almost gotten to the point of hanging it up- because everything- and I mean everything is posted out my way. I guess when I refer to more numbers I was thinking of upland hunting more than anything because if the smaller communities really wanted economic development $$$ off hunting they would take steps to open more land for access to residents and non-residents- not close more land- forcing more hunters on to the few public and plots acres. I understand where you are coming from with waterfowl, although I do like the Hunting Pressure Concept- in the fact we should let as many non-residents in that our resource can support. On wet years- it may be more?? I don't know? I will let the pro's figure that out. However, if we don't get some snow or rain out here (west), we won't be hunting anything but cactus pretty soon :eek: Thanks for "trying" to keep me on track :beer:
 

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The resource handled over 60,000 hunters in the 1970's (over 50K residents - I was one of them then). It can handle 60,000 hunters now. ND had historically reported a harvest of ducks of about 300K to 400K in wet years. The number could have been much higher - but ND hunters chased geese - ducks were largely a field bonus or tagged jump shooting.

Now ducks are the main target. If ND harvests 500K ducks or even a million ducks - then the US F&WS needs to change their models and season structures. Louisiana often kills 2 million birds a season. Texas and Arkansas often kill a million. ND should be allowed to harvest what the season/weather/etc.. will allow.

Thus 34K residents + 22K NR = compromise.

I grew up in Cass county. Cass county was barren (a few pheasants - no canada geese then). We traveled then to hunt. Many of the best areas in Richland, Sargent and Stutsman counties were posted and posted tight. Land was leased then too. Access was an issue then. I remember well that waterfowl hunting in ND on a weekend could be crowded and verycompetitive for good WPA areas.

The ducks are still in ND all fall. ND has always had so called lull periods when the resident ducks have migrated or simply relocated within the state and the birds from the north have not appeared yet. Read Lohman's Fargo Forum articles from the 80s and 90s. He often wrote about his mid-october drive through much of ND - not seeing any waterfowl on the ponds - must be all gone. You know what - they were sitting in that slough that could not be seen from the road. Instead of 25 birds per every pond, one pond held 1000s of birds. We found that pond and had a good shoot.

The problem has certainly esculated. And access to the average man is the issue.

Other issues include recruitment of young ND hunters. It is not a hunting resource issue either. It is the fact that too many non-family activities are now scheduled on weekends in ND. Look at all the Class B football games scheduled on a Saturday. How can these kids hunt an opening day or have time to scout for a Sunday hunt ?
 

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Let me tell you a quick fee-hunting related story. We had shot some geese in the morning and stopped by a place to ask permission to pheasant hunt in the afternoon. One thing led to another and the landowner ended up with our geese--which was fine with us. However, we weren't able to hunt his land that day. We couldn't get back that trip and so we stopped back the next year. He indicated that he had went to fee hunting, but we could hunt for free because of the geese last year, "consider it your lucky day" was his exact words. OK, no problem so far, I surely can understand a guy wanting to make some money. But then we hunted. We ended up with two birds for 4 experienced guys with 3 good dogs. And we were damn lucky to get those two. One bird flushed wild and just happened to fly right over my cousin who was hundreds of yards away. The other was a 300 yard trail job by a dog and a long shot. Only saw a couple more. IF we would have paid, I would have been really upset at the lack of birds for the money. I see fee hunting leading to some really bad situations. I have talked to others with the same issue. I really wish I could help in some way, but as a NR, I dont know what I can do.
 

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Seems every state has its villan. Now Louisiana and Arkansas are blaming Ducks Unlimited for their poor season. Of course it can not be weather related.

Evidently the theory goes : DU has created grain field staging areas and ponds are held open all winter to short stop birds in the northern and central states. Thus birds never reach their traditional wintering habitat.
 

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I've heard that there isn't squat for birds in Arkanasas or Louisiana. A guy I hunted with last month just got back from Ark. and said he was really disappointed. It appears the birds are all holding in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Nothing is froze.

On the eastern swing, Illinois didn't really have the numbers this year either in the popular areas, the birds stopped short.
 

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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.
 

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Dan,

Here is a long one.

I do suppurt caps at about the 20K to 25K level and you can bet I have written several key ND legislative members. I have received responses from 3 out of 4.

One thing I feel is being missed would be lowering the number of days from 14 to 10. Two five day periods. While the majority of NR hunters probably spend less than 10 days in ND hunting ducks, this would target the "hardcore" 14 day limit hunters that do pressure the resource too hard.

Boats vs no boats. Bear baits vs no baiting (thanks Jesse). Spearing northerns. Mt. Lion hunting. Much of that discussion can be argued to death. Hunting traditions vary by region. We hunters as a group need to be careful not to separate out other hunters by their methods. Only loosens the network we have organized against the anti-hunting groups. The PETAs of the world are intelligent in their approach and tend to attack these fringe hunting methods ....

I do not hunt from a boat in ND. Sometimes I wish I did a few years ago when many slough could not be access because of high water. Over the passed five years I have noticed that:

1) many NR come to ND with boats - few ever use them. I have only seen one NR boat out on the water. I would guess many use the boat as a trailer for carrying decoys, coolers, etc...

2) many ND hunters on this site and others now hunt from boats. Fetch, NDJ, .... All the complaints about boat hunters on the big MO in December - residents in boats ??

Of course I can tell a story where my brother, nephew and I watched two hunters boat out into the large, shallow lake and push our scouted flock of geese to who knows where. We all yelled dame WI hunters. When we drove by their vehicle - it had ND plates. Yah I know everyone on this site can tell the same story where the plates are MN or WI.

Finally, yes Dan I do feel pinched. I have hunted in ND for over 25 years. About 50/50 res/NR. Water/drought/Flood/Water - watched all unfold. Not happy that 20K new NR now enter ND. Not because they impact me in October, but because they may limit my return.

Many on this site have become upset when I say the quality of my ND hunts have been very good the past 5 years. We have had no problem finding good places to hunt with ample opps to shoot mallards and or geese. Now we do remain flexible. Field, water, upland - weather, scouting, and energy level determine what the next day will bring. We do not force hunts.

We are very successful hunting my "home" turf in ND. Limits - sometimes - sometimes not. Does not really matter. What does matter is I am spending time where I feel comfortable - with family and friends. Teaching kids to hunt ....

The fact that ND waterfowlers have fallen from 63K to 34K is frightening. Remember in the 70s when many said they would quit hunting when lead shot was banned ? Aging population ? Drought of the 80s - lost generation of ND waterfowl hunters ? Snow geese are gone - so are the snow goose hunters ? Young kids have to many organized activities on the weekends that pull them away from hunting with family ? Competition for hunting spots ? Guess I say yes to all of the above.

Finally - Every year that I have hunted in ND - there has always been periods of time when ducks where "scarce" - especially when scouting from the roads. SE ND was especially hard hit with the mid season "lull". In the 80s we may have started around Oaks on a Friday evening and ended up in Woodworth or Tolna by Sunday night. Lots of miles looking for those hidden hot spots - during that mid-october lull.

The fact that much of Canada has been dry and the weather patterns strange over the past years has changed some of the migration patterns, but the ducks are there for those who look.

Those in the south are complaining too. No changes in LA hunting pressure yet their ducks are missing this season too.
 

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Dan, can you tell me what the Hunter Pressure Concept is first? Sorry if that is a dumb question, but I would like the details first.

Thanks so far for your help and I will be emailing these people.
 

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I will have to think on this, but after my first read, it looks like the NR gets the scraps left over after the residents are done. I don't see how this would benefit me (as a NR). Maybe I am not understanding it correctly, but if resident pressure equals that of the total pressure cap, that means no NR can hunt. This could happen if either the resident pressure goes up or the total pressure cap goes down. I dont like that model at all. Am I missing something? I am keeping an open mind at this point.....
 
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