I hunted west of DL from Saturday through Tuesday (10/19-10/22). We had good pothole hunting on Saturday PM and Sunday AM and saw many large groups of mallards and geese. By Sunday PM the same sloughs we hunted earlier were froze tight and bird numbers were down. Monday was tough, though we saw a few very large concentrations of birds. A few observations we made during our trip that may be of interest:
*Deer numbers are crazy. I was glad to get out of the state without wrecking my vehicle.
*As mentioned earlier on this board; lots of snows and mallards should be showing up in central/southern ND soon.
*Lots of prime land locked up by guides (much more than last year)
*Much more posted land. 3 times we found large groups of birds on fields or potholes and before we could figure out who owned the land we witnessed someone posting it. Last year land access was no problem, this year we had a tough time.
We were supposed to stay through Wednesday but left a day early because the birds were all holed up on posted land and in every case noone was hunting the land the birds were congregated in. The birds had no reason to leave posted land...Blakefields, Kenners, et al have the fields surrounding the water locked up too.
I coordinate a trip with 4-6 non-residents including 2 under 18. We really like our accomadations and most of the local residents in Maddock and Devils Lake. Over the next 3 months or so we will decide whether to try a South Dakota pheasant/duck hunt instead or move to a different area/time in ND. We spend about $3000/year on our trip and this year our time would have been better spent hunting at home. Hopefully the ND legislature will do something to limit guides and reward landowners who allow non-resident access.
My final observation is that once again the ND residents we talked to about land acess, patronized in small towns, and talked to for any other reason were gracious hosts in every respect. Even the landowners who were obviously under the guides thumbs often stated that they'd "like to let us hunt, but..."
Good hunting everyone.