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I missed this to keep it going, but anted to aWaterfowlerdd my 2 cent opinions.

They are counting better than they used to with more people and better methods. They think there are more when in fact they are just better at counting.

For at least 26 years I have seen a decline. I know this because the ducks in general are not as far away from several flyways as they used to be. Habitat they used to use just doesn't get used because their sticking to close to the rivers because there just aren't as many. This has been a phenomenon I've observed over 26 years.

I kill more ducks now, but only because I am better at it. I see fewer and fewer and they are concentrated on the flyway.

You could justly argue that the pressure is keeping them moving and not meandering or staying put in an area to utilize the resources like they did in the past. I hope this to be the case.

I hope they stayed up north last year.

I hope they bypassed us the year before because of the ice and two icestorms.

I will say the last year I saw a bunch of ducks was the 95-96 season. That year the duck numbers were supposed to be low. I think the season was 30 days maybe 45 and the limit was 3 mallards.

Since the duck numbers came back in the late 90s to all time records since the 70's, I haven't seen them. Nobody has.

Have heard the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska have had more in the last 7 years than ever before. If they have shifted their migration pattern I would believe that. And the reason they shifted is because of pressure before robo and after.

All I can honestly say is something has happened. I used to hold large concentrations of ducks in my areas for a week. You would see a gradual buildup for 3 or 4 days and then a gradual decline for three or four days.

Now that same cycle lasts 2 or 3 days if your lucky. It's pressure or numbers or both.


The entire commercialization of waterfowling is the biggest problem. The kind of pressure put on the birds & the kill success, is higher than the counters realize. Or will admidt. But everyone wants their cut of the pie.

Predators are next

Weather is third


How long have you hunted North Dakota?

Have the numbers gone up in the laste 90s?

Are the counters right?

Have they shifted west?

Duc Tater

I wonder how many guys report Honestly
when fillen out their hip report? Isnt that
what they base Harvest on?


I have hunted all of ND & for over 30 yrs for ducks. Hardcore for SOB's for 20 of those yrs. But only been hardcore for just ducks for about 5 yrs. & most of that has been around 50 miles radius of Devils Lake.

It is so hard to tell. During the drought we had up here - they were so concentrated on the places that had water - it was impressive. The last 9 years have been extremely wet here. & the water & cover, really spreads them out. I'd have to say we have had excellant #'s of local ducks - the migration has not been as good. The ducks are getting hammered up here now too & going to get worse, before it gets better. Things in Canada have slowed down (hunting pressure) & with crop changes up there = the ducks & SOB's are staying up there & flying over alot of the hot spots with pressure. Places like SD are getting alot of ducks & holding them very late - SD only allows 4,000 Non Resident hunters for 2 weeks & 2,000 NR's for a 1 week license. - ND has gone from 5,000 NR hunters 10 yrs ago, to 30,000 last year. & odds are this year will be even much higher. ---ND residents are fed up & there has been alot of pressure to get this under a manageable # - there will be limits put on NR's By either our G&FD or the legislature, or by initiated measure (referal vote) We are hoping our G&FD does the right things, to avoid the hassles yet to come. On top of that land is getting bought by out of state (wealthy people) or groups - or corporations at a alarming rate - ND was & is one of the last states with unique laws - all land not posted can be hunted & it used to be most posted land could be to (by asking / respecting the owners wishes.) Most posted for deer season. But that is rapidly changing. As guide #'s keep growing & many are leasing large 50,000 plus acres - EACH !!!, of some of the best habitat / fields available. This is the #1 thing pissing off Residents. Alot of this is because of the liberal changes in hunting SOB's - then these guys find out it is hard & the SOB adapt & learn. Then they see all the ducks & next year say screw the SOB's and everyone brings 4 or 5 more the next year & so on & so on & so on.

Now this may seem normal to many states - but it sure ain't here. Many residents are starting to wonder why we do live here ??? If this is going to happen ??? We have been losing our young people for many years.

Finally the state is coming up with ideas to lease as much land, as they can, to try to keep alot public. I'm afraid it will be not enough & way to late. The commercial interests now want a compromise (???) & they are way ahead in the game ??? ??? ??? I'm part of a group, doing what we can, to promote the residents points of view. There are a few fragmented sportsman / hunting groups. & no ND Waterfowl Assn. But I can see one, hopefully, coming - but it will be to late to really stop the $$$ people.

( this is where & why I have the belief there are distinct groups - HUNTERS & SHOOTERS !!! I'm sorry to tell ya - most are Shooters. Pay to play & want it fast & easy & $$$ is going to ruin it (Hunting) & because of $$$ no one can or will stop it. (& guess what - there is always someone Richer than the other guy)

Once ND is screwed up & then other midwest states Nebraska - Kansas - (Mo - Iowa) are about there & Minn. is a sad duckless place (also Wisconsin) & they have probably some of the hightest #'s of hardcore waterfowlers in the country. I think I'll move to SD ??? They are just as bad (with commercialized hunting)at least for Pheasants Sad Sad Sad is what the future looks like from my perspective.

& no offense (But) the Southern states that really are Hot for waterfowl, have been screwed up for a long time.


From: Atlanta, GA, USA

What I took from what you said is that the numbers were higher (albeit concentrated) in the late 80s and early 90s. Is that what you said?

When the #s went up (reportedly) in the late 90s along with water/habitat conditions the birds spread out, but the numbers didn't go up to speak of.

I've done some research and see a #s explosion for the late 90s for the Dakotas and Nebraska. Is what your saying just because there are more hunters?

You say that the ducks hang up in Canada. When I was a kid we had boo-coodles of Canadians, now none. Thought it was the farming practices.

Have the ducks (mallards) learned/evolved to hang up there because of pressure.

I have kind of got a phiosophy that says when the northern breeding grounds are dry the southern wintering habitat is wet and think I'm seeing that cycle just shift. We had ducks in Arkansas when the season was short, no ducks, dry prarries, 80s and early 90s, etc.

My philosophy also thinks that the pressure is what moves the birds and that has intensified like crazy.

When I was kid (70s), I grabbed my gun, walked out the bag door, loaded it in the yard, and was hunting, crossing everybodies land. If I was driving and I saw ducks in a field they were mine for hunting. Those days are gone. We still have the locals that think if they can boat to it they can hunt it, but that will change in the next few years.

I think the birds are going to dry up, the south is going to get wet, the season/bird bag will be cut, and we are gonna get the birds again.

Although I know duckhunters are the most optimistic lot in the world.


Yeah the local ducks have done well the past several years.(gone up) I have heard we are raising the majority of ducks here now ???

I think all the pressure forces those out of here, or onto waters they can't be hunted on. & the lack of pressure holds those up there.(Canada) Until weather forces them down. The past few years that same weather also forced them further south.(here ND)--- Plus 30,000 NR & 30,000 resident hunters.

Pressure no doubt moves em. SD and Nebraska & Kansas don't have near the pressure (but that will also change) & with mild winters they are only going as far south, as they have to. & I bet all the pressure down there, forces them to stay as far north as they can (open water & lack of heavy snow cover) There is so much food for them in these states there is no reason to leave. Other than heavy snow & freezeup.

Lowering the days & the limits would be very good for the overall population of ducks. Most shooters would find other things to do. & that would be fine with me. BUT the $$$ is what runs things. & way to many are trying to control hunting. Control management - control government - control letting the moblie shooters, be able to go where the ducks are. I know the wildlife folks like to have the public believe hunters / shooters have little impact. But I believe that could have been true 10 - 20 years ago. But the last 5 to 10 years, that has changed faster than they can keep track of. Throw in the spinners & it is mostly the young ducks getting killed & the older ones are wiser. No wonder some areas are shooting themselves in the foot. But $$$ will stop & influence any rapid changes. They have to study everything (which takes $$$) & creates jobs. Plus all that revenue to the states (in licenses) is hard to turn away. Plus the economic impact on small towns & businesses. & those folks really don't care about the resources. Or do much to support the wildlife. It's a lose Lose situation. Only nature can't be controled.

Used to be (not that long ago) the only pressure came from hardcore residents, of each state. & the real hunters were not into limits & killing nearly as much as modern day shooters. Now with the proliferation of guides & outfitters & info on the internet (& cell phones)it is way to easy to take full advantage of all this information.

It also used to be, real conservation, was something many were proud of. Now they think - send your $$$ to save the ducks & all will be OK. If not for weather & nature & farm programs that encourage habitat. Things would be much worse.

If Canada gets a program like CRP in the USA & nature cooperates. The ducks will be OK into the near future. Without that - I think they are being hurt & by the time things change, they could be seriously hurt. Only then will extreme controls possibly help them.

Maybe then, the shooters, can go back to their sporting clays etc. ??? But the wealthy will always find a way to buy what they want.

- It's to bad a computerized gun can't be made, to point at the ducks (in their enviroment) & allow the shooters to shoot & the thing would tell them if they hit or not ??? Even capture it on video, or on digital camera ??? So they could go home & relive the expirence on their PC ??? ??? ??? I wonder how many would do it then ???


From: Prior Lake, MN
Fetch is right about the what's happening with duck huntin in ND. Minnesota hunters are headed to the Dakotas in record numbers. Over 30,000 last that to 23,000 ND resident hunters. There are going to be some real battles between these two states in the next couple of years. If you look at a chart of the ducks per hunter you can see what is happening. MN hunters for the most part buy there stamps in MN so they are a counted as MN hunters. But when you complete the harvest survey (not HIP survey) ducks are listed by the state they were harvested. You can see this in the following chart.

Either Fetch is really getting good at setting decoys and calling or MN hunters are inflating the numbers. This is also indicated by the supposed lack of success by MN hunters. A lot of hunters look at the ducks per hunter and say hunting is poor. However, what I beleive is happening is some of MN's most dedicated hunters are spending the best part of the season in the Dakotas, increasing their harvest while at the same time lowering the MN harvest. If you combine the ducks per hunter for MN and the Dakotas they look like what what is happening in the rest of the flyway. MN certainly has some habitat problems but if I got to where I only shot 6 ducks a year (MN average) I would hang it up.

Bottom line though is that fewer hunters are shooting more ducks than ever before. I think a lot of this has to do with the strong economy in the later part of the 90's and the commercialization of the sport. Anyhow, if you beleive the harvest data.....these are the good old days.

[ This Message was edited by: Fetch on 2002-05-06 13:06 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Fetch on 2002-05-06 17:58 ]
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