I wanted to take a moment and share a perspective that I am confident will offend some on this board. First let me tell you about me. I am a nonresident hunter that has enjoyed North Dakota hunting for the past several years. I come up and stay three weeks. Hunt ducks the first week and then Pheasants and Sharptails the next two. I am there with my father and brother and some years a friend or two. We stay at a motel, eat at the restaurant and visit the connivance stores in the small towns in the Western third of the state. I respect the land I hunt as well as the people I meet. I am greeted enthusiastically by those who own the establishments I visit. I, to date, have hunted land that is public access.
Many of the store owners discussed with me their view of the stupidity of capping or limited nonresident hunters. A restaurant owner in Dickinson told me that this was the most profitable time of the year for him because of the out of state hunters. A radio station claimed every hotel/motel room in the city was filled for the pheasant opener. My credit card revealed that I spent a little over $1,900.00 on my trip this year.
Resident North Dakota sportsman are allowing themselves to be perceived as egocentric individuals only concerned with their own experience at the COST of others. This is not the impression I would hope you intend to leave. A quick review of the posting here would lead most to believe that the political concerns of some louder individuals on this page is (1) reduce competition for my hunting opportunities, (2) keep my costs low, (3) reduce economic opportunities for others, (4) me, me, me.
I have said it before that I believe a more effective strategy to improve everyone's outcomes is to partner with the broader interest. I strongly believe that the only way to maintain great hunting for EVERYONE is to make great hunting EVERYONE'S interest. You do this not by alienating others and putting your priorities and values ahead of others, but by building a coalition of common interests.
The continuation of great hunting in North Dakota is dependent on;
· Great Habitat
Great habitat will be available as long as it is in the interest of the farmer/ranch to maintain it. Financially we (resident and nonresident) as sportsman need to be prepared to contribute to the cost of maintaining wetlands, creating shelter and food plots, and managing with a mind on wildlife production. Some here are quick to point out that the state owns the wildlife. That may be true but the farmer/rancher carries the bulk of the responsibility for raising that wildlife.
· Public Access
Publicly funded access programs need to be expanded. A culture of being thankful and appreciative of that access needs to be nurtured by sportsman and also local chamber of commerce members.
Population management based on sound research is needed to adjust season lengths, limits, and harvest techniques. By maximizing wildlife revenues through license fees and other taxes, great habitat can be sustained and expanded. Great habitat increases wildlife populations. Increased populations can sustain greater harvest.
What can sportsman do?
· Recognize that either all interests win or lose together on these issues.
· Support initiatives that increase (not limit) sportsman recreational days. Beyong the obvious interst of the sportsman it is the interest of the businessman and will lead to increase wildlife revenues.
· Be willing to financially support through higher license costs (both resident and nonresident) funding wildlife programs.
· Acknowledge that the farmer/rancher should not be expected to provide use of their property for your recreation without compensation. Persons who golf don't expect it to be free. We as sportsman should value our heritage to the point we will financially support it.
· Realize that those who feed their family by operating a convenience store, gas station, restaurant, sporting goods store, or hotel benefit from nonresident hunters.
Specifically I would like to see the following type of initiatives pursued as opposed to what appears to be a fear based strategy that is aimed at limiting the number of others and hoping everything else will stay the same approach.
§ Increase the number of waterfowl management zones (to say 12 or so) and require state duck stamps for each zone which are valid for one week and no more than one stamp valid at anyone time. This may spread out the pressure and increase revenues). If the biologists believe capping each zone each week is needed then I would support that idea.
§ Institute a "Hunting Guide Tax" on person's utilizing this option. Moneys should be used to secure public access and address leasing by outfitters.
§ Person's utilizing the services of a guide should not be allowed to utilize public access lands.
§ Establish a resident goose season stamp for the early season.
§ Institute Upland Game Stamp valid for 5 day periods. Allow multiple purchases if desired.
§ Increase (double) resident and nonresident license fees.
§ Offer financial incentives ($1 to $2 an acre) to all persons entering into CRP contracts to sign on a public access lease for the length of the contract.
I realize that these ideas would significantly increase the license cost to average hunters. However, I purchase decoys, guns, shells, cloths, dogs, dog food, etc., because of how much I value the experience of hunting. As a nonresident going from $100.00 licensing costs to say $300.00 is not going to deter me and I suspect it will not deter many others. The last statement is especially true if the hunting and access becomes even better as I think it will. The approach I offer here serves the landowners needs, the business owners needs, the sportsman's needs, and the resources needs.
…. Just my thoughts …