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N. Dakota Report


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Idaho Chukar Hunter

Today there is a real storm in ND.  It has been spitting snow and rain since yesterday early eve.  The  wind is just howling.  So, we are tucked into the 5th wheel with the heat on high and probably will be until Friday, it the weather holds.  There was a little snow on the ground and the temps are in the 30’s.  The dogs are loving being in the camper.

So, I thought I would give my thoughts on the Pheasant season so far and the Grouse season.  I am in S. N. Dakota and I am finding birds.  But, I am lucky enough to have private ground to hunt.  I have been hunting this area for almost 30 years.

I have put a lot of miles on my truck looking at the Plots parcels, which open for out of staters on Saturday.  

The conditions are really grim.  So much of the Plots parcels are either grazed or mowed.  The CRP that usually has 18-24 inch high cover has about 12 inches.  In talking with ranchers in E. Montana, they told me that even CRP hay is going for $250 a ton, if it can be found.  The farmers and ranchers are really suffering.  And so are the pheasants.  Where there used to be, for example, 10 places to hunt, now there are about 2.  The birds just don’t have places to hide like they used to.

The bright sign is that there are young birds around.  But, I fear for next year.  The birds just aren’t going to have places to overwinter like they need.  

I don’t want to seem to be all doom and gloom, though.  I have had just wonderful dog work and have found my 3 birds most days.  I am shooting a double barrel for the first time and really enjoying it.

I am hunting the dogs separately for pheasants.  I hunt them together for other birds, but I really try to keep them closer than for sharptails and to hunt as silently as possible.  Those roosters sure get smart fast!  The dogs sure hate it when it isn’t their turn.  I also ended up with about the smallest rooster I have ever got.  I didn’t shoot it, though.  He made the mistake of thinking he could outrun Moxie…..silly bird.

So, this Sat starts the S. Dakota season for out of staters.  I will be hunting there next week, then back home.  It has been a great trip, so far.  

I hope all of you are having a great season, also!

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Good report, hope your luck continues. Your pups look content.

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munsterlander

Yes, I am there also, and can attest to that nasty storm!  News said it was the 2nd wettest October day on record. And the wind!  
Last year at this time I was here and it was a blizzard with drifts of snow 2’ deep and temps down to 5 degrees. 

What’s happened to our crisp and lovely fall days I am used to here at this time of year?  I’m hoping to get one one in a couple days!
 

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Larry Brown

Re ND weather . . . I recall hunting out of Medora for sharpies before the pheasant season opened several years ago.  Probably the last week in Sept.  We cut our trip a day short because a high temp of 80+ was predicted.  The day after that, they had a snowstorm.

 

I think maybe whoever said:  "If you don't like the weather, just wait a little while!" lived in western North Dakota.

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bigjohnsd

Freeze warning in ND and Northern SD tonight

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uplandnut30

I saw more pheasants this year sharptail hunting than I’ve ever seen in ND.  Easily 3-4 times the numbers I normally see.

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I generally echo what was said. Just got back from a few days hunting the East half of the state. Basically if you usually plan on hunting plots land there's maybe a 50-50 chance there's grass to hunt. The few spots that did have habitat were absolutely pounded this past weekend.

 

It's really sad driving around and looking at all this beautiful habitat that's been reduced to the length of your front lawn. And I'm much more concerned about next year, we need habitat to have birds.

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One boon to habitat here is all the rain we're getting. It wets down the cattail sloughs so there will be fewer mowed and burnt. Once the corn gets harvested cattails are about the only cover left this year.

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Larry Brown

At one time, ND had over 4 million acres enrolled in CRP.  Don't know the current figure, but it's a lot less now.  Haying and grazing the CRP makes for tough hunting.  My first really outstanding  season on pheasants post-CRP came in 1987.  1988 found Iowa suffering from a 100 year drought.  CRP all gone.  The hunting wasn't nearly as good in 88.  However, the grass came back really well, and Iowa had a really solid decade plus of pheasant hunting starting in 89.

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Farmer/Rancher friends in SD have always said, weather withstanding, CRP and bird populations go hand in hand.

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dogrunner
14 minutes ago, SODAKer said:

Farmer/Rancher friends in SD have always said, weather withstanding, CRP and bird populations go hand in hand.

Definitely. 

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Around my area of the SE part of the state I'm thinking the population is about like last year, a bit low. There is still lots of corn standing that will slowly be harvested due to wet ground. It might spread out the harvest of grain and birds. Deer season opens Nov. 5th so we'll see how hunting progresses. I picked up 2 today, an early hatched and a later hatch. Amazing what an extra month will do for bulk. No fat on them yet.

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