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What happend with the snow geese in nd?

7568 Views 17 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  SHOTGUN
I haven't been around to know what the hunting has been like 15-20 years ago, but i have even noticed within the last 6-7 years that they don't stay around very long. One thing is that the flyway is changing every year. I live in Bottineau and my dad said this isn't anything like back when he hunted. They fly through so quickly and they are alot smarter. Plus they used to be all over in the bottineau area. Now they are more west and east of here.(in the fall that is). I was just wondering what other people would have to say about this.Has anyone else noticed the changes?
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I was raised snow goose hunting once it became really good in your area. Before they would come through Devils lake, Ashtabula, Tewakon, and through W. Fergus Falls of the olden days.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I was told the flyway shifted west for food, as they followed the increase in small grains further west.

Nowadays, the birds stay in Canada longer for a couple of reasons. First, pea farming has taken off up there and the birds stick around longer to take advantage of that food source. 2nd would be the lack of hunting pressure up north(although this is changing). And 3rd, they've implemented dams that will hold the birds when there wasn't prior. The combination of those 3 plus the mild fall weather has been keeping most birds void of ND. It's taken a blizzard to bring the birds down every year since 97.

Last fall was a breath of fresh air as we finally had a chance at a mass numbers in ND in the fall. It's just too bad every weekend was bluebird weather.
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From what I gather with the game and fish, and stories from my dad, their staging area has been shifting north for the last 30 years. From what my dad has told me, those lakes next to I 94 (Hobart for example) used to be white with snows by the second weekend of duck season and Rock Lake would have huge numbers of snows by the opener. Every year, it was further north. In the Mid to late 80's it was Devils Lake, and in the early to mid 90's it was Kenmare to Langdon. Now it is Canada. Also, what is called a lot of pressure up there is hearing another gun shot in the morning. I have never experienced crowding in Canada like I have in ND. Seems like whenever you locate a good group of snows, there are 10 trucks scouting it, and 10 more trying to jump it.
I would add a #4 to those reasons.And it's not because I am anti outfitter.When I first moved here in the early 70's,there was a lot of ND hunters on the weekends.The birds would get hammered.Then we all went back to work and there was no one hunting Mon-Fri.The couple thousand non-res were spread thin.The next weekend would have heavy pressure again.I remember hunters lined up along the fence at Salyer every 30 yds.Then in the early 90's guides and outfitters started showing up and more and more non-res were here to hunt all week.The birds refused to accept this heavy pressure and started staying in Canada.
Good Topic

I started out hunting SOB out of GrandForks (70's) - Only had to drive to Petersburg or Michigan ND. & we always got a few. Used to drive back & forth everyday. Then we headed more towards Brocket & Edmore - then Bisbe & the Rocklake areas (used to shoot them as they crossed over the border :grin:) started getting into decoys. Had some spectacular hunts & really thought we knew what we were doing. Like Ken said, not many hunted Mon. thru Fri. & the weekenders actually helped decoyers to keep the birds moving.

It used to be the SOB's would show up in smaller family groups & could find them feeding in new barley shoots & green fields - (not worked yet.) then they would move to waste grains. The young birds had to acclimate to grain, after living on grass shoots up in the Tundra. I think hunters helped, group the birds up, by hunting them. Plus as they moved to grains & eventually corn - they started piling into the same fields - as more & more came down. This was the great staging area. That they all came to & built up fat reserves - until they made the flight south - usually forced out by weather. It was amazing to see all the birds.

I have been terribly disappointed, in the last ten years, as the size of the flock grew bigger - we started getting less & less birds. & since the conservation hunts & liberal regs. it has gotten even worse.

Weather & crops have played a big role in that - also pressure from hunters.

I saw the ever progressive move of the flyway west. Where Hurricane North of Leeds & Rugby & Bottineau, became the center of the flyway.

I eventually got a lake place in Devils Lake. It saved me alot of driving & gave me lot more sleep.

The high water in the region has changed everything also. Their roosting areas changed dramatically (& still are)

With the popularity of everyone wanting to come to ND & shoot a SOB. Also caused the rise in guides & outfitters. & all those folks found out how tough they were to hunt & needed guides to get any. ( or even find them :roll: ) Then the leasing began & has got worse every year. Plus all the freelance hunters, found out, we had the majority of the ducks here too. & of course the internet came along. & the word spread like a wildfire. Every year a few came & were amazed - the next year they all brought a few friends & so on & so on & so on etc. etc. etc.

During this time the geese started staying in Canada (for the reasons in the above posts) Then the guides & outfitters started to panic & had to go out & get all the land a SOB either landed on, or even flew over - to at least show their clients a few.

I hope the word gets out, that ND is really not the meca of SOB hunting anymore. That plus the fact, most have tried it & found out it is expensive & harder than shooting golf course geese back home :grin: Maybe now, they have learned, it's not all it's cracked up to be ???

I'm afraid a drought & severe restrictions will be the only thing to prevent the duck hunters from coming. $$$ to the state G&FD (license sales) & all the other $$$ involved has changed things (IMHO for the worse) What was a recreational thing for us, is now a money thing, to way to many. I will also say, many of the most successful, at making money from all this - really were not the best hunters (or really gave a hoot) before. & now they don't want to compete with the recreational ones - that did become very good & loved every aspect of hunting them. That is part of why there are opposing groups, with totally different idealogical & opposing views. Now make this political & you have a real mess.

This is why, I think only the G&FD can (or could have) done things, to have prevented some of this. But in many ways, they have missed the chance now ??? Or don't want to take the flak, for doing what is best, for ND Resident hunters. (???) :sad:

Is it a resource, that can be managed, as a economic resource ??? Or should it be a recreational thing (1st for residents) & then allow, as many as can be managed, from out of state to partake ??? How the guides & outfitters, got to the point of being a sizeable portion of this ??? - is beyond me ??? & should they have a equal, or even a higher priority say in it all ??? I guess the Govenor thinks so :roll: What a mess !!!

& I have not mentioned, the word Pheasant once, until now. That mess only triggered the bigger problems. & served as a wake up call to many. That something needs to be done - studied - changed - before it gets even worse. :sad: & as Redlabel points out, things change - But do they have to keep changing (so much)in unmanaged ways, that will untimately make ND, like most all others states ??? Where $$$ & those that have the most of it, are the only winners ???

[ This Message was edited by: Fetch on 2002-04-17 13:06 ]
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Ditto to all that is said above. I guess the snows also stay in Canada because the fall plowing practices are also more conducive to holding the birds up there.

North Dakota really is only a shadow of its former self when it comes to snow goose hunting. I don't know why a new snow goose hunter would go to North Dakota in the fall unless its to see old friends. I have been hunting them for 27 years and with all my knowledge, it's not getting any easier. In fact, it's much worse.

We did get lucky last year when the weather played right into our hands. But, for the last 7 to 10 years our luck has been rather poor.

I am still a bit puzzled how outfitters can be out there paying to lease land when there are not enough birds to make it pay. How long can that last?
It won't Perry,that's why North Central went out of business.
The biggest problem with the lateness of the migration is the pea fields in Canada. If you ever travel to Canada set up in the pea field in a snow goose area. They'll eat those before anything else. Second the darn things get here, at least the last couple of years, around deer hunting time. I find it a little hard to lay in camo or white when there are guys shooting high powered rifles at every deer that crosses the road.

Last year in the central part of the state there was about 5000 using the same field every day for 3-4 days straight. We could have slaughtered them but the deer season became more important. Nobody shot at them for the whole time we hunted the area.

Thirdly, the guides in the traditional areas just have too much land tied up. Watched many geese not being hunted in good areas last year as the outfitters were saving them for their clients. When they do hunt them they just get pouded and leave the area.
Ken, et. al.,

I would like to think that if more outfits like North Central go out of business, the snow goose hunting pendulum will swing the other way and the number of leased acres and hunting pressure will decline. Then, maybe some of the birds would return. But, I believe that is wishful thinking on my part. I think that once the migration pattern shifts, it is incredibly hard for it to shift back - at least in my lifetime. I have seen it shift steadily west in the last 25 years and now skip right over North Dakota as the birds stage longer in Canada.
The only way it will change is if it really drys out in Canada and if the birds get pressure they won't tolerate.
Field Hunter's comments are pretty true to the mark.

The snows are continuously changing - hey maybe in 20 years they will return and stage somewhere in ND agian.

30 years ago Salyer was full of Specs and not a snow goose. 15 years ago there were almost ½ to 1 million snows staging on the refuge. Now they have mallards and giant Canada geese and snow geese may stop for a week or two.

Snow Geese Return to ND in big numbers and stay all October ??????

May be :???: on the northeast side of ND, but from Bottineau west, the geese will likely stay in Canada longer.

The big "river" refuges in north central North Dakota (Salyer, Des Lacs, and Upper Souris) have been short stopped. Dams were built on the same rivers on the Canadian side of the border. Geese sit by the hundreds of thousands 15 to 100 miles north of the ND/Canadian border in western Manitoba and eastern Sask. Unfortunately, these Canadian reservoirs are drought tolerant like their ND counterparts

Snow geese have not returned to SE ND, with the exception of weather-related years, it is unlikely that they will return to northern ND either.

In the '70s and early 80's I hunted snow geese in SE ND from October 10 to freeze-up.

Snow geese prefer to nest on the arctic and winter near the gulf coast. In Texas, snow geese are around from November until February. North Dakota is a potential stop over to keep their bodies fed for the migration. Unusual weather patterns will likely play a bigger factor now. If by chance southern Canada is hit with a huge snow storm in October, northern ND could have a good year again.

[ This Message was edited by: prairie hunter on 2002-04-18 10:47 ]
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I know some farmers that farm peas in the kramer area. Even if north dakota started farming peas i don't think it will help out having geese stay in nd longer. I wish there was something that they could figure out so the price to go and hunt in canada wasn't so expensive. Just think if there was hunting pressure up there like down here. The snow goose pop. would drop more. Since they don't stay around in the same place very often it is harder to hunt geese that way too(since they are hard enuff to hunt as it is). It would be nice to have something work out so it was alot easier to hunt in canada.
Even if they do start coming down in the fall like they used to, they still are going to be even more diffecult to hunt than they have been the last few years. Saskatchewan is going to open up the use of e-calls in the fall this year.
That's already a done deal??? I thought they'd never get that passed in the fall?
Yes,I've seen that posted on another site also.I guess it will be legal in Man. and Sask.Supposedly if you have out snow decoys only.
That is a joke in my opinion. First of all, most snows that will be shot are young of the year birds that aren't threatening the population, and second they will be screwing up hunting further south in the flyway by taking more young birds out of the flock. Resident Saskatchewan hunters are already having problems with some American hunters "need to kill" when they go up there and this will only add to it. Just look at the example in Wadena last year. DU Canada found over 900 duck and goose carcasses in a dump, not even attempted to be cleaned. That ****** off a lot of locals in Sask.
I am not so sure snow goose hunting is really "tougher" than it used to be 20 years ago. I remember limits of 5 snow geese per man in the 70's, and it wasn't always so easy to fill that limit. I think I even remember a limit of 4 at one time.

My grandfather used to hunt all day for one Canada goose (which was the limit) near Rock Lake, ND, in the 60's. The snows rarely stopped to give him a chance.

The limits of 20 are hard to get now (at times), but the old limit of 5 geese is not really "tougher" in my book.

I started hunting snows over decoys with my dad at the age of 10, in 1972. We would usually have 8 or 9 people in the blinds, and often shot 30 to 40 geese in a day. I would say that we usually did better than the average goose hunters, and those numbers are comparable to today's "average day."

[ This Message was edited by: hunt4life on 2002-04-19 07:27 ]
Interesting topic

Where I hunt in Alberta 10 yrs ago if you saw something white in a field you could get into an argument if it was a seagull or what. Put the spotting scope on it and my god its a snow goose!!!!! Where did it come from?

Then about 6 or 7 yrs. ago I would see a few hundred here and there.

Last fall I had to hunt the sob's a few times and the smallest field I hunted had about 10,000 of the sob's.

I don't think they will go much further west, the mountains will stop em.

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