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ND Hunting Heritage

4762 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  prairie hunter
I do not get to chase geese so I have to sit and type on a computer. Here I go again:

Many North Dakotans feel hard pressed because of how easy it used to be to hunt waterfowl. Excellent chance of success with little competition. Knowledge of your area and a good tank of gas to scout was all one really needed.

A drought, not people, was the single largest factor determining if your spot had ducks or was huntable.

Decoying, pass shooting, and sneak hunting geese in the morning is what really defined ND waterfowl hunting over the past 30+ years. Now the snow geese are lucky to be in ND for a couple weeks instead of a month plus just 5-10 years ago.

This has left many ND hunters looking for a new game in town. Canada geese (resident giants and smaller migrant birds) have helped fill the void especially as limits were liberalized.

Ducks to ND hunters are MALLARDS. Some may disagree, but only when a ND hunter shoots a limit of greenheads does he start bragging about duck hunting. ND hunters are a humble bunch. Most ducks were taken while goose hunting or jump shooting in the afternoon. Ducks came easy. Lots of birds, little competition, and access was relatively easy. I grew up jump shooting ducks, many along roadside and highway ponds after a morning goose hunt. This is how many 12 yr olds learn to hunt ducks in ND.

More and more ND hunters are now hunting over floating decoys compared to 20 or 30 years ago. They are replacing all those snow decoys with duck decoys. Hey I have seen more ND boys with duck boats in the past two years than the past 20 years before that combined.

Now as most ND hunters are adapting to different game and ways of hunting, they have also had to adapt to huge increases in water levels and very mild October weather patterns which stalls migrations in Canada until one big push comes through the state and the end of the season.

Couple this with a huge influx of hunters from other states (3 fold increase in a short time span) that often hunt ducks hard and hunt ducks well.

Lodges have formed to accommodate NR hunters used to leasing and guided hunts. They have blocked out huge tracks of good hunting land in major staging areas. This further agitates the average ND hunter because they have been shut out by MONEY.

It is my honest opinion that much of the NR problem would not be occurring if

1) ND hunters still had their snow geese to hunt

2) Relatively easy access to hunting was maintained. This long traditional rite of ND hunting heritage (access) has become endangered by outfitters and NR lease arrangements

3) Number of hunters competing on the remaining amount of land was moderated.
Moderate caps or reducing the time each NR was allowed in the state (reduce 14 days to 10 days, 2 5 day blocks) is a start.
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Much of what prairie hunter has to say in this post is true. There are alot of ND hunters that jump shoot ducks and they started as small boys doing it this way. However, there are many non-residents doing this as well. Not all the non-residents are the purists that you make them out to be.

Last season my son and I saw a number of non-resident duck hunters driving the back roads and jump shooting ducks. One case that will stick in my mind for a long time...a number of mallards and canada geese were along side of a highway. As my son and I were talking to the land owner only about 1/8 mile away. 2 guys with out of state plates slammed on the brakes, left the car doors open and shot off the highway. The landowner was so infuriated that the land was posted the next trip down.

As to your input on the NR that hunt ducks hard and hunt them well I just have to say is I hope they're eating duck every night. There is a limit. I personally have witnessed NR hunters trying to give away their ducks from a morning hunt so they can continue to hunt. I think the tag system should be initiated again to take care of this as well. Maybe this would cut down on how hard the ducks are hunted and keep them around a little longer.

Just a few thoughts from a resident who has witnessed the changes over the years.
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No guilt implied or intended. No purist attitude implied or intended.

I never implied that NRs are purists I said they hunt ducks hard & hunt ducks well. Many are too relentless (limit or die trying). Yes NRs jump shoot as often as residents maybe more. Some are not above certain laws or ethics (hunter ethics is a debate in itself).

Most of my early jump shooting (as a resident ND boy) was not at birds in ditches - simply birds spotted in a slough from the road. Growing up, we often scouted for geese in the afternoons, shooting a few mallards or teal in the process made for some nice memories.

As long as you do not hunt on posted land, don't shoot across highways, and park some distance from the water and walk towards your quarry - go for it. I agree shooting from or near a vehicle is wrong.

In my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with driving around, spotting ducks, and jump shooting them. Many ponds including those on Federal WPAs are next to roads. It is not easy finding good shallow sloughs in the middle of fields or prairie. These sloughs are often drain tiled towards the road via a nice ditch. Farmers sometimes drain the middle sloughs to the outside edges of a farm field - makes it easier to farm. Do not have to circle around a lot of little ponds.

I prefer decoy hunting any day and anytime, but weather (rain, cold, bluebird) often dictate that jump shooting is more productive, especially for kids. I am a NR, but hunt often with resident ND kids, jump shooting while scouting is fun, instructive, and keeps the kids interested. I often walk/sneak with them, usually without a gun. Try to teach them how to sneak effectively and safely. Plus when the bird falls, the kid knows who shot it.

In Minnesota ruffed grouse are road hunted hard. There is a lot of debate regarding walking, ATV, and pickup road hunters. They now have laws regarding distance between hunter and vehicle - difficult to enforce unless it is a "decoy" sting operation.

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-04-01 11:14 ]

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-04-01 11:33 ]

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-04-01 11:37 ]
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Re-introduction of NR season limits and tagging birds (only way to keep people somewhat honest) was proposed on a separate post in a separate thread. Even as a NR - I tend to agree.

One possession limit of ducks or geese per 5 or 7 day stay should be adequate. This may force some of the hard core (limit or die trying) NR duck hunters to Canada. It would definitely lower the pressure on ducks.

Two possession limits over a season is 24 ducks and technically you better be eating birds as you go (both residents & NRs), since only one possession limit is allowed by law.

If you really want to make an impact on pheasant guides and outfitters - get the possession limit reduced back to two times the daily limit. All of the fly-in hunters would not be able to hunt all week without eating or giving away birds.

This might be a start.

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-04-01 13:13 ]
Praire Hunter makes a great point. Growing up I too jump shot ducks on sloughs in the afternoon. This is how i grew up hunting ducks. I didnt think twice about it until I got a little older, and wanted to start decoying. This is how my father, his father, and his grandfather have hunted, and this is the tradition that they passed on to me.

Just this weekend while I was out with all my uncles and my grandparents for Easter on the farm, this tradition was seen. I set up decoys for snow geese on Saturday, came back to the farm practically empty handed, and was made fun of by my family. "Why dont you go and hunt the real way, jump shoot the geese?" All of my uncles, including my father, thought I was crazy to try decoys. This is a result of traditions being passed down, and I think that a lot of ND hunters grew up this way, and continue to do this way of hunting.

I am not saying that jumping sloughs is wrong at all. In fact, I still love to do it time to time, just to bring back the memories of when I was a teenager. Nothing brought greater joy to me than going out with my family and sneaking up on a slough. Now, I have some money, bought some decoys, and love to scout, find a good slough or field, and set up decoys.

I think we have to look upon every style of hunting as equal. As long as the people are having fun and making memories, not abusing the bag limits, and also hunting legally and ethically, we must congratulate them that they are out there enjoying the resource that ND has to offer.

[ This Message was edited by: muskat on 2002-04-01 12:04 ]
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I think that the point that Field Hunter was trying to make wasn't that jumpshooting is unethical, but that there are a whole lot of "weekend warrior" NR hunters in ND, that only jumpshoot. I personally think that ND lost a lot of their hardcore NR duck and goose hunters when the snow geese stopped coming consistantly. I go to Canada every year and almost everyone that hunts up there used to go to ND, but quit because it became too inconsistant with the migration. Where I hunt in ND most of the NR only will decoy until 8 or so in the morning, then hit the roads and jump until they have their limit.
There are residents and NRs that are expert hunters, there are resident and NRs that are not. There are resident and NRs that break the law. Everyone probably has stories about all of the above.

I grew up in ND. My dad was a goose hunter. We would set up goose decoys under the lights of a pickup truck then one person goes and parks the truck.

I think the first time he shot a duck over floating duck decoys was when I was in high school. My brother and I bought a couple of dozen floaters and some duck calls and learned as each season went by.

My dad had fun being with us - but looking back I am sure he thought we were a little crazy for carrying full decoy bags 1/3 mile or more through the prairie in the dark and then standing in a cold pond with waders on for ducks. :???: He would always park himself nearby and shoot passing birds. No waders - of course.
Prairie Hunter,
I can see your point, but you are sounding like you think that all ND waterfowlers are goose hunters and don't know how to hunt small sloughs. There is a new age group of ND hunters that are growing up that have either had to learn to hunt ducks, or not hunt at all.
When I started hunting in ND in the 60's I lived in MN.We had to use those tags on each bird.They were a real pain.I would never want to inflict that on anyone.There has to be a better way than going back to those.
Yes Decoyer - that is exactly what my original post says. ""More and more ND hunters are now hunting over floating decoys compared to 20 or 30 years ago. They are replacing all those snow decoys with duck decoys. Hey I have seen more ND boys with duck boats in the past two years than the past 20 years before that combined.""

The snows may be gone forever. SO your right ducks, honkers, and crane are still around. Hunt them or quit.

When I hunted small sloughs with floating duck decoys as a ND resident in the late 70s and 80s, we were BY FAR the exception not the rule. Canada goose limits were one until about 1994. Not many people set up field spreads in central ND for 1 goose apiece.

We kept duck hunting through the entire drought - sometimes just a fews days in the driest falls.

There are many youngsters on this site, you will see drought conditions, but I hope never to the extreme that was present in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Right now I am a NR, but hunt almost entirely with resident ND hunters. I know ND hunters are excellent duck hunters - I used to be one of them.

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-04-01 19:36 ]
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