North Dakota Fishing and Hunting Forum banner

Will it all come down to this ???

9254 Views 32 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Dan Bueide
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
:( :( :( :( :( And they wonder what we are trying to do here??!! Unbelievable!!!!
That one should be required reading for anyone who wants to participate in any discussion involving caps, liscence fees, and commercialization of the resource. Someone should cut and paste it over here. I wish I would of. Thanks for tuning us into that Fetch. Tom
Tony Dean Outdoors
Conservation Issues
Where George Bush Gets Those Wierd Ideas About Conservation

Texans, especially rich ones who own ranches, often have strange ideas about wildlife. They believe they own it, and the "it" refers to every critter that someone will pay a fee to shoot. And ever since we remembered Alamo, and even before the Texas Rangers were something other than a baseball team, the Lone Star state has been the leader in turning recreational hunting into a financial benefit for private landowners. In fact, they say hunting is so expensive in Texas that only oilmen, sports franchise-owners and perhaps the individual members of the Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers and Spurs, can afford it. Overall, the Texas attitude is, if you can't afford it, don't do it.

Lewie Moore, an old fishing and hunting pal who lived in Pierre in the 1970's and 80's, has lived in Fort Worth, TX for over a decade. And he can tell you how much it costs to hunt in Texas. Though he makes a good living as a supervisor for a big construction company, he says hunting Texas costs a lot more than he's got. In fact, he has pretty much given up most of his hunting, with the exception of an occasional duck hunt on a nearby public reservoir where the state charges a $35 daily boat launch fee. Can you imagine how people in the midwest would react to a government agency charging a $35 daily launch fee?

But, by Texas standards, that's a bargain.

History shows that if you give an inch, recipients want a mile and private landowners in Texas personify that belief. They've long sought private control over seasons, bag limits, and even the ability to control genetics and breeding of the public's wildlife. Maybe that's the inevitable result of ranches so big that the Ford Motor Company names a Club Cab pickup after one of them. Yes, these are big spreads, larger than some states or countries. What they have learned in Texas is that if you have a big ranch that holds enough deer with big antlers, there are lots of fat cats willing to pay more to kill one of them than some people earn in an entire year. And few of them care about how they do it. Some have also learned that if you don't have deer with big antlers, anything with horns will do. That might explain why it's possible to hunt kudos in Texas. Besides, with the exotic species, you don't have to deal with those guys from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

According to the Wildlife Management Institute, big Texas landowner groups have produced a pair of bills for the Texas Legislature that, if approved, will wipe away any pretense of public ownership of wildlife and grant full privatization of white-tailed deer to a select few. Some say that in the Texas legislature, that's just good "bidness."

My friend, Joel Vance, a Missouri-based outdoor writer, suffers no fools when it comes to writing about lawmakers with a desire to go beyond their agencies and do their own fish, wildlife and environment management. He has taken to calling such legislation, "stupid bills" in reference to the SB that precedes each Senate bill number. I'll add my own definition on House Bills, which usually precede the legislation with HB followed by the bill number. I'll call'em "Hoo Boy," bills, as in "Hoo Boy, that sure was dumb."

So it is the Texas "leg", as described by columnist Molly Ivins for their pro-"bidness" views, that is now considering a measure that's been introduced concurrently in the "Stupid Bill" Senate and "Hoo-Boy House." This legislation would establish a high fence deer management permit, that would facilitate intensive commercial management of deer on those properties. Presumably, high-fences, which now surround several million Texas acres, also keeps freeloaders out. That means anyone who foolishly thinks that deer belong to the public. And since some real trophy hunters get their trophies on these ranches, I will assume that the "fair chase" aspect regarding shooting critters inside an enclosed area, shall be discarded. These Texas ranchers have figured out how to build a wall around themselves and keep any unwanted guests out.

So why worry about such schemes? After all, they're saying it's going to keep ranchers on the land, but then so do oil depletion allowances. But this legislation also lowers requirements for management plans. It eliminates state agency rulemaking authority, state-sanctioned bag limits and tagging requirements, and allows for unconstrained trapping and translocation of deer between properties. It also enables them to avoid recently enacted testing requirements for chronic wasting disease and other diseases. After all, what's a little disease between friends, even if it's chronic?

It is, what a member in good standing of the Texas legislature calls, "a simple little bill. That's what happens when a public agency stands in the way of "bidness.?"

"Bidness" goes on as usual.

As I read about this, I think of all of those mediocre to poor television hunting shows that fill the Outdoor Channel's time slots. Most of those I categorize as "mediocre, " are really lousy shows and the word "poor" speaks for itself. They all feature fat-bellied guys who talk like their mouth is full of either marbles or chaw and too many feature "hunts" on big Texas ranches where they try to make it look real. But it is hard to make this look real because the deer are coming to commercial feeders. It's kinda like going to a pro wrestling match, and believing it's real. Each show also features commercials with Ray Scott of BASS fame hawking products to feed to deer to make their antlers grow bigger. That and commercials for those horrible-looking tower deer stands and massive feeders that make you wonder what's happened to the "one bullet, one buck, and travel light" philosophy that once characterized deer hunting.

I grew up reading the Sports Afield, Outdoor Life and Field and Stream, as well as Saga, True and Argosy and those magazines featured hunting stories that pictured hunters as real outdoorsmen. Today, the latter magazines are no longer in print and the big three has relegated hunting to the process of hiring the right guides and hunting places beyond the financial reach of the average guy. That includes nearly all ofTexas.

Well, I've been there a number of times, mostly to attend fishing tackle and SHOT shows, but enough to form a few impressions. Back then, all I knew was in Texas you could drive as fast as you wanted while sipping your beer and listening to country music on the radio. I've eaten some great Mexican food in Dallas, and spent a spooky Sunday morning wandering around Dealey Plaza where Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy. I remember walking downstairs in the Dallas Convention Center and seeing a portion of the SHOT show that, thankfully, no longer exists. There were people in turbans, face paint and camouflage and every booth featured fully automatic weapons. I figured that every soldier of fortune and third world country did their arms buying there. Anyway, I knew I wasn't in the upland game section when a booth operator called me behind his booth to show me a diagram of the trilateral commission, the new world order, and told me of plots involving UN plans to take over the world. Worse, he said, George H.W. Bush (Dubbya's father) not only knew about it, he was in on it, along with McArthur, Eisenhower and a bunch of others. I mention this anecdote because in Texas, such thinking is, if not normal, not discarded either. Let's face it, this is a state that's famous for producing, shall we say, "out of the box" people? General Ed Walker, H.L. Hunt, Jack Ruby and Ross Perot come to mind.

I hunted Texas once, at the invitation of a well-heeled friend I met at a Ducks Unlimited banquet in Sioux Falls. He came to South Dakota and hunted ducks with me the following fall and then invited me to Texas to hunt geese on his place in Texas. After several years of phone calls, I relented and as I recall, arrived in Houston on a flight that was so late, I checked into my hotel in time to unpack my bags and dress for the morning hunt.

My pal picked me up at 4:30 AM in the most customized of custom Suburbans and we drove some 45 minutes out of Houston. Since I was sleep-deprived, I set my share of the front seat into nearly the full reclining position and the next thing I recall was the feeling we were driving over a rough stubble field. It woke me up and then I realized we were driving over a rough rice stubble field. Suddenly, we plunged downward…into an underground garage…and three steps later, into an underground lodge. Maynard Reece originals graced the rich, paneled walls and I wolfed down a southern breakfast complete with grits and red-eyed ham gravy cooked by a black chef, who came adorned with the tall white hat that trademarks that profession. If the quality of the food we ate that morning was any measurement, he was the real thing.

My host glanced at his Rolex, grabbed his Purdey and said, "It's about time. Follow me."

I checked my Timex and agreed, grabbing my Remington and following him into the smoking room, a room large enough to hold a full-sized pool table, more waterfowl art originals, overstuffed leather recliners, a fully stocked bar and a large humidor I was told contained nothing but Havana's best.

We walked up three steps and through a another door into a concrete-lined pit, complete with upholstered seat pads and a mahogany gun rack. A pot of fresh coffee perked on a gas stove. In front of me, I found two unopened boxes of Federal steel #1's. I looked up and gazed over the largest goose decoy spread I've ever seen. If I said there were 2,000 decoys out there, I wouldn't miss by much. They were expensive white, full-body decoys and we would be hunting snow geese. The pit was shaped like a cross and had a swivel top, so that regardless of wind direction, you could face any direction you wanted. It was, as they say, an engineering marvel, not to be confused with goose hunting comfort overkill. I'll admit it took a while to get used to laying on the cold ground after that trip. A dog handler sat in another much smaller pit to the right along with a big lab that would retrieve any birds we killed. We weren't introduced and I would later learn his vocabulary was limited to, "Fetch Bo."

As the gray of morning turned lighter, the birds began arriving. I won't bore you other than to say what we were doing resembled hunting, at least superficially, though it was more like pass shooting over decoys. No scouting, no arranging the spread. I felt like a cross between a guy who stumbled into a carnival shooting gallery and a first timer at a bordello. Because of the sheer numbers of geese, we were done in less than an hour. I mention the bordello connection because this experience was much like that minus the romance. Five birds each and when we came back the following morning for the second and final day of the hunt, they'd have them cleaned, frozen and ready to take home. I later thought I'd have been more comfortable in a business suit with the tie loosened slightly, camo coveralls over the top, of course. But I guess you have to experience shooting to understand what separates it from hunting. Course, when you start worrying about things like this, there'll be enough others to tell you to forget that weepy ethics crap.

On our way back to Houston, my pal asked me what I thought of "our little place," this south Texas hunting lodge he shared with five other businessmen.

"It's pretty impressive," is all I could think to say.

A few miles later, I asked him, "If you don't mind telling me, what does it cost down here to have a hunting deal like that?"

"Well, we each put in $50,000 to start, and then we pay the landowner $10,000 per year after that," he said. "We've been there about ten years and we'd like to get a longer term lease but the longest he'll go is three years. And if we backed out, there's a big waiting list for a place like that."

I thought about that. In 10 years, five guys plunked down $660,000 bucks to hunt snow geese. I wonder today if they'd have done that had they known that in less than another decade, northern state biologists would let you kill all the snows you wanted for free, and even let you take out the plug, use an electronic call and hunt them in the spring. But truthfully, if you plunk down that kind of money to hunt geese, who could blame you for thinking you are damn well entitled to great shooting and even a claim on wildlife ownership. At least now, I know what that big sucking sound is all about.

I did have one more question, one to which I guessed I already knew the answer.

"Where does the average guy…the mechanic…the guy who works at a plant…hunt down here?

"He don't," came the reply. Not mean either, more like, well everyone knows ordinary guys don't hunt. Not a great explanation but one that does make it easier to understand why guys like Tom Delay and Phil Gramm think like they do. It also makes you realize that George W. Bush doesn't just dream up his ideas on how to take care of conservation and the environment.

Texas A&M University researchers have demonstrated clearly that the changing dynamics of Texas do not bode well for the future of hunting there, especially as the public perceives that access to hunt is restricted, exclusive, expensive and trophy-centered. And all of that, says the Wildlife Management Institute, is manifested in those two pieces of "Hoo-Boy" legislation. They note that with millions of acres of high-fenced land in Texas at present, if the legislature passes this stuff, it will send a clear message to the Texas public as to how they see the future of hunting.

Here in the midwest, we see Texas thinking springing up in a lot of places. Some from Texas ranchers, others from those who know them. And in the end, there's only one way to deal with their demands.

Don't give another inch, not even a fraction of an inch. Some landowners want the authority to buy licenses and resell them. Some are already thinking of stocking exotic game, which is considered normal in Texas. Don't laugh. Former Dallas Cowboy tight end, Jay Novacek, now has a ranch stocked fully with exotic game in his home state, Nebraska. He might have dropped some passes in his day, but he did more than play football in Texas. And in South Dakota, we even have a game commissioner dropping hints she'd like to do the same thing on their ranch. They're relative newcomers, having moved to South Dakota…from Texas.

Myself, I shot 10 Texas snow geese for the cost of a plane ticket and a hotel room. As for deer, well, I imagine shooting one of those genetically-engineered, antler-growing feedbags from a tall tower in front of the feeder would be just one helluva lot like knocking one out of Yankee Stadium…with a corked bat.
See less See more
If people are willing to shell out that much money, what is a little plane ticket to Bismarck or Grand Forks?? The infidels are coming and the nodakoutdoors boys can see them on the horizon. Go to the advisory meetings!! Raise a little hell.
Wow! Anyone in ND who thinks everything is fine and dandy now. Needs to read that and see whats on the horizon. At the rate we're going now, thats how it will be for my kids!
This is precisely what many of us have been busting our balls for a few years to protect against. We're now about halfway along the Texas model.

No matter how you cut it, you can't stop this without caps. When pressure/competition becomes unbearable, those who can afford to do so, get their own piece of the rock. That land becomes unavailable to anyone else, and the rest of the Joe Hunters compete for an ever-shrinking amount of available ground, fueling the cycle. And this isn't just about resident hunters. When the model plays out, you have less people using more land and nothing good comes of that for rural economies.

Maybe Tony is beginning to see the light. Hopefully so will the resident sportspersons who have not yet gotten involved as will many of those who jumped on the commercialization bandwagon who really don't understand what they're fighting for.
I sent it to Governor Hoeven. Hopefully he'll take the time to read it.

Please don't read things into my story on Texas hunting that aren't in the text. This is about legislation introduced by a few huge Texas landowners that seeks to take management authority from Texas Game and Parks, who are charged with managing public wildlife.

It was not about North Dakota or about caps.

When you go to a state legislature to ask elected officials to plunge into the wildlife management arena, you may not get what you want and you may get many things you do not want. Either way, you open the doors to the possibility of taking that management authority from Game and Fish.
I cannot emphasize that enough. By their sheer makeup and the speed with which they must make decisions on a wide variety of issues, legislators are not prepared to cope with wildlife management decisions that, of necessity, should be made carefully and deliberately.

IF you are successful in establishing caps, you will find, as we have in South Dakota, that the only thing that will change is wealthier locals will control the best hunting ground through lease or purchase.

In the end, hunting numbers will fluctuate with water conditions and the expectation of good bird numbers. Then it becomes self-regulating. We see more and more evidence of local hunters trying to keep things to themselves. In Wyoming and Montana, it's deer, in spite of the fact much of that recreation is done on public lands. And the local solution there is high non-resident fees. That doesn't shut out the high rollers. To them, high fees are a minor annoyance.

But it does shut out Joe Average. And maybe his kids.

What doesn't end is the hard feelings that have and will develop between city sportsmen and small towns and rural areas. Keeping the doors open at small town businesses is pretty important to locals who live there, even if it's not to those who live in larger communities.

I have often written in the past, that we would be wise to focus on real issues and the biggest I see in either Dakota...or anywhere in the prairie pothole region (concerning hunting) preserving what wetlands remain and keeping grass on the prairie. See my story in July's Dakota Country for more on the latter.

There's another huge issue looming. The Bush Administration is seeking to consolidate the realty divisions of the various Interior agencies into a central location. That spells real problems in enacting wetland and grassland easements as well as purchases in fee title...and that means an end to buying public hunting areas.

As duck hunting is relegated to fewer places, over-protected for and by a few, and done by fewer people, you will find less political support to maintain hunting.

You should all have had the opportunity to interview Secy. of Interior, Gale Norton, as I did last week. Then you'd have an inkling of the real problems that face our resources.

The best advice I can offer anyone who hunts...or to focus on big pictures, not small snapshots.

Tony Dean
See less See more
Tony, I know what you are trying to say about focusing on the bigger issues. I agree.

But I really have to disagree with you on the effects caps have on SD hunters. You do not hear SD hunters complaining about the wealthy guys having the only access in the NE, I can promise you that. I have lived there for 30 of my 31 years. I wrote many emails supporting the 500 3 day liscences they allowed for the NE. But since coming to ND, it is obvious to me that completely unrestricted numbers can be a problem as well. I have watched shows you have filmed with family of mine, Dennis Fagerland of Langford, and with unrestricted numbers, those areas would soon be just as leased for waterfowl os Chamberlain is for pheasants. They just are not leased like that now Tony, and that is obvious. Pierre is the only area of SD that has waterfowl leasing anything approximating what is happening in ND. Roslyn and Waubay are way behind.

What people are seeing from your article is the effect of commercialization. Not referencing caps, quotas, or bird tags at all. Commercialization. If someone can show people how to stop commercialization without caps, I think people would embrace that liek the second coming. But in reality, it will be the least costly in a number of ways to put the brakes on this thing before we have the situation with pheasants in my former state of residence. Or Texas. The only other alternative I can see is a referal action to ban all outfitters, or any form of payment for access for hunting purposes. And those are not without there problems either.

I listen to what you say about ND and SD, and I cant help but see things as being colored by where you live currently. Not a slam, just an observation.

A great piece of writing by the way. Loved your observations. Tom
See less See more
Tony, I understood you were not advocating caps in your article, but many of your comments resonate with our efforts, and I and many others don't think we can preserve what we have without caps. Believe it or not, many of us aren't fans of caps either, as they may impact friends or family who travel to ND to hunt with us and they create that "ishy" feeling between different in-state and out-state interests that you alluded to.

But, many of us feel we're in a new paradigm, where mother nature is not going to bail us out like she has in the past. During the last "boom cycle" we had something less than 50 hunting outfitters. We now have something north of 300. During the last boom cycle we had no more than 9,000 nonresident waterfowlers, mostly from Minnesota and at a time where pretty decent hunting opportunities also existed for those folks "back home." Without a cap this year, we will be well north of 30,000, hailing from every corner of the universe. During the last boom cycle, we didn't have the internet or the breadth of other media outlets focusing the spotlight on ND.

Because even in the poor years hunting will be relatively better here than in almost any other state, because of the heavy commercialization and access-difficulty that has already occurred in almost everywhere else and because our recent rush into commercialization, mother nature will not rectify matters this time. Commercialization/crowding/pressure is here to stay, unless we help mother nature out with some reasonable restrictions.

While there are some ND's who have the ability to acquire ND property for their exclusive self-use, that "problem" doesn't worry me - there just aren't enough wealthy ND sportsperson to materially affect the overall situation. Our economics, as you have pointed out in your article, are on a vastly different scale, and the much, much greater risk is the ability of nonresidents from all over to acquire tremendous amounts of exclusive access, whether from lease or buy, that do impact the overall situation.

Many of us have said this before: The national issues you raise are important and need everybody's attention and effort, but they won't matter a hoot to most of us if the commercialization trend continues. For us, we're doing our damndest to not forfeit one more inch, and this is as "big picture" as they come.
See less See more
Isn't the commercial sides here going to the Legislature & requesting things that help them grow & keep or get a bigger piece of the pie ??? & won't they continue to do so, until were not much different than the texas's out there ??? & up until recently they were respected as authorities on whats best for ND. :eyeroll:

Hasn't our G&FD lost authority ??? :idiot:
By their sheer makeup and the speed with which they must make decisions on a wide variety of issues, legislators are not prepared to cope with wildlife management decisions that, of necessity, should be made carefully and deliberately.
& this is not the case here ??? :******:

Yeah !!! just keep making places for the unlimited #'s of NonResidents to come & use :roll: thats the answer :roll: :eyeroll:

I believe in nip it in the bud - before their thorns get to big & strong to deal with.

How many more chances will we get ???

When will all residents wake up - or will they ???

If were making errors lets do it on the side of caution & whats best for ND residents & the resources. Not help or ignore individuals that only wish to profit or take from what we have & what is so unique & special.

We had a sign up for Delta & put it on many other web sites asking Nonresidents to give something back - & we got what ??? 2 :(

Were just starting much earlier & taking your advice (before we get to where texas is)
And in the end, there's only one way to deal with their demands.

Don't give another inch, not even a fraction of an inch.
See less See more
Darn Tony, I thought maybe you were joining our side. I do see a few pertinent tidbits you fail to mention.

The more commercialized hunting becomes, the more political it becomes until you eventually end up with what Texas is facing. Lack of regulation of the demand for a highly sought after resource (which is a public trust in this case) leads to leasing and commercialization.

It is usually not the hunter's choice to go before legislators, but rather done out of necessity after those (the guides and outfitters) who sell something that belongs to everyone have manipulated the system into a political one. Our Game and Fish Dept. has put forth number restrictions and has been ignored for 3 years now and the bottom line reason is politics and the almighty dollar.

Do huge commercial operations in Texas keep small town businesses open there? They definitely have an impact on land prices and therefore the farmer's ability to make ends meet and maybe even continue to farm. Where does his money (year round money I might add) go if he leaves or moves to the city?

As far as South Dakota goes, this fall will be my second year as a North Dakotan non-resident hunting there, and I can tell you for sure that we had no problems with leases for waterfowl in the pothole country. The overall quality of hunting I experienced was ten-fold what we now have in the Jamestown area. Is my money helping to keep the small town doors open here in ND? It used to (year round I might add), but now it goes to other areas that still maintain the quality of hunting I look for (admittedly a subjective realm).

Joe Average and his kids--if you cannot offer quality hunting or opportunities for Joe or the younger generation, how can you sustain their interest? While it is understood that hunting is more than just the harvest, for younger hunters it is still a very goal oriented activity.

One last thing: if I eventually get so frustrated that I give up hunting altogether (look at resident waterfowl hunter numbers in Nodak over the past decade), why should I give a tinker's damn about wetland protection?

See less See more
I hate to say it, but our Game and Fish dept. has already lost its management authority. We put the management of our waterfowl resource in the hands of the legislature this spring(SB2048). This was a bill that was developed by OUR game and fish BIOLOGISTS, to protect the resource for the benefit of all. And look how that turned out!! Its also time that G&F gets some balls and stands up to the the governor. They are in charge of managing our resource, not another "economic development" tool!!
Dan B. you stated "The national issues you raise are important and need everybody's attention and effort, but they won't matter a hoot to most of us if the commercialization trend continues."

I think your logic is flawed. If we lose wetland protection and bird numbers plummet, will it really matter if a cap exists or commercialization (of what) is out of hand? Don't get me wrong I think the items you refer to are important, but the resource itself has to be protected first.
but the resource itself has to be protected first.
& how is this going to be done above & beyond what is being done ??? I get sick of reading crap like this that just takes away from the real issue at hand today. Do you think all these people that come here to take, will care when it's gone ??? Or do much but whine when it gets more restricted because of over harvest & bad weather.

It does not matter if we become the worst state for game - if we can no longer participate. Or have to be like texas :roll:

& now because other states have screwed up what they once had )mainly due to too many people. Or privledge for the rich - Now we should for (really Nominal fees) let them come & rape what we have. :******: :******: :******:

Tony is as full of it as he ever was - all he is good at is controversy & bringing attention to Tony. When I 1st read this I thought OK Tony is coming around & in another of his rants he used this quote from Daschle
"Good Managers," he said, "do things right. Good the right things."
Seems this is lost unless it's about habitat :roll: :eyeroll: :******: Get Real !!!
Slow down Fetch, things like the CWA Restoration Act of 2003 sponsored by Oberstar in MN and the NDGF's planned expansion of PLOTS land to almost a million acres in the next 5-6 years are a couple ways to go beyond what is currently being done. If Hoeven would put a permanent 25-30K cap in place, increase the available public hunting land and control the G/O's we'd have a workable solution.

Even with the expanding number of non-resident waterfowl hunters in ND, I find it difficult to compare the situation in Texas (population 20 million) to ND at 650K.
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.