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CANOPY SAM

2014 NoDak Waterfowl Reports

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Proskier2038

Boxmn- sounds like a fun time! And good hunting for not traveling much. I head out tmrw morning and really have no idea where we will end up. smile will be hunting untill Sunday so hopefully I can find service to give a couple reports!

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TylerS

Awesome reports guys! I think things are turning. Snow is falling in Canada. Not enough for a huge push, but birds are going to come through. Looks like wind this weekend and cold. Can't wait!

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BoxMN

Forgot to mention that we did see quite a few big flocks of snows flying over, most were high flyers but we did see some in a field, but not a big group. We only saw one flock three weeks ago, but probably about a dozen flocks flying over last weekend.

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fishuhalik

Sounds like pretty legit push happened on Monday. We left Monday am. Typical...

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CANOPY SAM

I talked with Jeb over at the ND Game and Fish office in Harvey, ND., and he said they were seeing a fairly decent influx of new birds moving with this last weather front.

This light snow and cold was pretty far up into Canada, and the far northern offices, and guide services, in the Canadian provinces are saying that a LOT of their birds have pulled out.

I'm optimistic for this weekend! wink

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fishuhalik

Forgot to share this pic. Reset the trip when I left the driveway, took the pic when I pulled back in. If that ain't dedication...I dunno what is smile I gotta say, I'm pretty proud of the ol' Cruze. We had 3 guys over 6" tall & fit all our stuff in no problem. Leg room in back was better than most 4-door pickups. Ratchet-strapped a duffle bag to the trunk on the way home which gave us enough room to lay down in the back but killed our mileage. We averaged 37.6mpg on the way there, dropped down to 32.5 after scouting & stayed right around 33 with our duffle bag "spoiler" on the back. Not too shabby ol' girl

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Proskier2038

Just got back from a few days in Nodak. We hunted near lehr and had to work for the birds. As stated previously it's still mostly locals without much pushing down yet. We put in a lot of time scouting without much luck finding large numbers early in the week. We also didn't see much for birds feeding in the fields . Friday morning everything small froze up and things started grouping up on large water. We hunted mostly small potholes and would bang out a few gadwalls but nothing to write home about

- birds were Extrememly decoy shy and spinner shy and we did our best using 5 magnum floaters and a flapper. We found a soybean field where mallards were feeding Friday afternoon so we finally got a field hunt Saturday afternoon and banged out a 5 man limit of mallards filling with pintails and widgeon in a couple hrs . Our best hunting was from 2pm - 5 pm all week long. Not a lot for honkers in the area but the snows started to show up Wednesday.

All in all it was a fun trip- looking forward to next year!

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CANOPY SAM

Our hunt sounds an awful lot like Pro's above.

We arrived at our destination (between Harvey and Carrington) on Thursday early afternoon, and I was pretty optimistic about the number of birds I was seeing. Good numbers of ducks in virtually every pothole, and lots of big groups of snows, and honkers in the fields. But things can sure change in a hurry!

As stated above, that cold front that rolled out of Canada on Thurs evening had everything small to medium sized frozen over on Friday morning. It was 14 degrees when we hit the fields on Friday morning.

My boys still managed plenty of shooting, and connected on a handful of puddlers and a few geese, but it wasn't one of those hunts you'll never forget. Both geese and ducks were extremely decoy shy, even with good calling and a very good looking spread. For two days I was almost pulling my hair out trying to figure why I just couldn't put birds on top of my boys.

On the way home I spoke with another group in Carrington that confirmed my suspicions. The majority of birds in the state are still primarily locals, or just the first push of lower Canadian birds that have moved a little south. They've been shot at for 3-4 weeks now, and have seen every tactic we have thrown at them, and they're not buying it. frown

Add in another tangent....the majority of fields in our area that were previously planted in small grains were this year planted in beans. The corn is just starting to come off, and the birds are beginning to transition into the cut corn fields.

If I could put one word on the whole situation right now I'd have to say "transition". Seems the primary ag crops this year are beans (likely due to the short growing season) which doesn't seem to hold a lot of birds in the area for very long, and the corn harvest is just beginning, so finding really good feeding areas is a little tough right now. Also, the vast majority of birds in the area have been hunted pretty hard, and there doesn't appear to be many new birds down from Canada yet.

On our way back home yesterday the vast majority of sloughs we saw speckled with birds on Thursday were now completely void of any birds. I think it's a fair guess that many of the local birds (ducks at least) have moved south now.

All in all I'd rate our hunt as very good, but after 30+ years of waterfowl hunting I don't keep my score card with numbers of birds in the bag anymore. We saw a TON of birds...something my boys have never seen before, and we had a few great shoots for divers, and puddlers, but nothing truly stellar. The experience/adventure itself was priceless! If you're disappointed in your NoDak hunt at this time of year it would prolly be a good idea to re-evaluate why you are actually going out there. It is truly an epic place to hunt waterfowl, but it can be tough, for even the most experienced hunters, to get on the X and really get into the birds.

On another note, I was pretty stunned to see how tough the last few winters have been on the upland birds, and deer! The hard winters and no doubt the loss of millions of acres of CRP land. The country has changed dramatically since I was last out there, and we really struggled to even find good numbers of sharp-tailed grouse! Pheasants are there, but they too are in pretty low numbers. Since I first started hunting this country in the late 80's it was always relatively easy to find great numbers of upland game. What's out there now is dramatically lower then I've ever seen before.

Overall I suspect we'll see another extremely late migration thru the state. By the time the true big push of birds out of Canada makes their move the majority of the water in NoDak will be frozen solid, and most of the birds will simply fly over the state. I've said it for years, but this always makes me wonder if these small brained critters are actually a LOT smarter then what we give them credit for! wink

Still, I absolutely love hunting North Dakota! If all the stars align I may make another run out there in a couple weeks, but the weather holds all the cards for that decision. Thanks for all the reports. I look forward to hearing how everyone does out there as the season progresses! smile

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2thepointsetters

We hunted the central part of NODAK over the weekend and found very few birds moving. We put on about 200 miles a day hunting/scouting but it was worth the time. We did well in the fields and the water hunting also produced well.full-14148-50664-blindview.jpg

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full-14148-50667-blindviewgooseretrive.j

full-14148-50668-blindviewgeeseandmallar

full-14148-50669-blindviewdecoyspread.jp

full-14148-50670-blindviewcanoe.jpg

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mulefarm

For some reason this year it seems a lot more land is posted and when contacting the owner, permission was denied on a regular basis. Not sure if it has to do with the measure 5 amendment? They sure spend a lot of time and a lot oney on posted signs!

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Todd Caswell

For some reason this year it seems a lot more land is posted and when contacting the owner, permission was denied on a regular basis. Not sure if it has to do with the measure 5 amendment? They sure spend a lot of time and a lot oney on posted signs!

And it will only get worse, never heard another shot fired in Canada in 5 days, and the cost is very close my 2c

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fish_hunt_guy

Todd do you ever shoot any birds with color up there or is pretty much brown duck after brown duck?

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TylerS

I don't think posted lands have anything to do with Measure 5. I've been hunting Nodak since 2000, and it's gotten progressively worse every year. Between the outfitters locking up land, hunters getting to know landowners and locking up land for them, and dingleberries not contacting landowners but throwing up posted signs anyway, well, what you see is what you get.

That's why I stopped hunting fields. Lots of public water. It's the way to go when every Tom, Dick and Harry is clamoring over a depleting number of huntable fields.

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CANOPY SAM

For some reason this year it seems a lot more land is posted and when contacting the owner, permission was denied on a regular basis. Not sure if it has to do with the measure 5 amendment? They sure spend a lot of time and a lot oney on posted signs!

I noticed the same thing, mulefarm. But not just the presence of more posted land. I also clearly noticed a marked change in opinion, by local folks, toward non-resident hunters.

Only a handful of years back 99% of the local people I knew in central NoDak, and even farmers I didn't know, were very accommodating and friendly toward non-resident hunters. Driving around the countryside it was actually pretty rare to come across a No Trespassing sign.

With this last outing I was pretty surprised to see so much land posted up, and even more disappointed by the general attitude of local landowners, and business owners, toward non-resident hunters. I stopped at a local establishment to pick up some beverages and a guy inside saw me and actually started hollering about how..."no non-resident hunter is EVER going to set foot on MY LAND!"

Where we used to be warmly welcomed by very kind people, we are now looked at like infidels.

I'm not sure when, or why this has happened, or what is driving this attitude, but it's definitely a different place then it was just 5 or 10 years ago. Pretty sad.

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Todd Caswell

Todd do you ever shoot any birds with color up there or is pretty much brown duck after brown duck?

No we shoot some birds that are colored up, I'm not real big on only shooting drakes so doesn't really matter to me if they look pretty or not smile

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brittman

I have hunted ND for almost 40 years straight with half or more as a NR.

I can tell you that some of the comments noted above are local / regional. No hunting signs have been common forever in ND and I really do not see a large difference between the 1990s and today. Guides and outfitters come and go, heavy posting comes and goes. One area becomes worse, while another subsides. I travel and/or hunt across many, many counties in ND. Corner to corner and in the middle too.

The later in the season you head to ND (closer to deer season) the more posting signs you will see. I have hunted an area that is maybe 50% posted for youth waterfowl, 75% posted if in pheasant country and 90% posted after November 1.

You can always ask ...

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TylerS

I hear ya Brittman. I guess it pays to expand your area of comfort, eh?

I do know one thing: After deer season and once the fear of someone spooking out "a landowner's big buck," getting on land gets a lot easier.

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CANOPY SAM

Yeah. I was also thinking this had more to do with the deer season so close, but it really didn't explain the obvious change in attitude about non-resident hunters.

Regional? I'm not so sure about that.

Our family land really isn't in a "flyway" so to speak. We're smack dab between the Missouri flyway, and the flight route thru Devils Lake. Not everyone we met were crabby. Many were still salt of the earth folks, and very friendly. But we certainly met more people who wanted nothing to do with us. I'm not surprised. Just kind of disappointed. I've met more then my share of non-resident slob hunters out there, and I can only imagine what the landowners go thru each year. I suppose some of this should be expected. crazy

On another note...what are folks seeing out there today? Pretty big front rolled thru pushing north/northwest winds, rain and snow out of Canada. I'd expect some new birds in with this weather.

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Roosterslayer05

The funny thing is that most of the time the "poachers" are actually locals. This rings true for hunting and fishing. The locals feel "entitled" so they trespass and take over their limit. Many times it's not the non-residents but the actual locals who rape the resource. Think about it. laugh

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Kettle

The last two years I have seen more people hunting in Canada, doesn't bother me too much. I like my big water hunting so normally not much competition there but field hunting has been more competitive. We always ask permission, never seen anything posted but not sure of the trespassing laws. I would think most farmers up there wouldn't take to kindly to driving in their fields without permission. Fortunate to have farmer friends up there my dad established relationships with in the 80's so normally don't have to knock on doors of people we don't know. It does sound like next year we will be heading to far west Sask or Eastern Albert to avoid field competition.

Kettle

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fishuhalik

IMHO, it isn't gonna be too long til nodak turns into Texas, especially around DL. Once landowners realize hunters are willing to "pay to play," they're gonna capitalize on it. It's the way our society is going. Many people have lost the friendly farmer attitude. I think a lot of that is due to the oilfield. There's such a huge influx of people from all over the country moving to nodak, & most oilfield guys that I know are at least casual hunters. Locals are tired of "oilfield trash" litering their roads, tearing up their land & making trouble in their small towns. In my area, I've seen posting go up by at least 500%. Just between last year & this fall, there was at least a dozen fields that I hunted last year that were posted this year.

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brittman

Kettle,

The west side of SK is very busy in the core speck range. Often drier with fewer lakes and the river congregating birds. Can result in some stacking up of hunters.

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TylerS

The funny thing is that most of the time the "poachers" are actually locals. This rings true for hunting and fishing. The locals feel "entitled" so they trespass and take over their limit. Many times it's not the non-residents but the actual locals who rape the resource. Think about it. laugh

Ehem, "most of the time" is reaching. I'd say there are a fair share of slobs on either side of the border.

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brittman

I have a feeling that in some areas of NoDak the land owners are wearing out of all the waterfowl hunting.

Use to be North Dakota would open 1st weekend of October and by deer season (early November) everything was froze but the MO river system and maybe a few other spots here and there.

Now the waterfowl season runs from mid-August through freeze up (which often goes into November). Then you add March, April and May for spring snow geese season and was once a 31 day season is well over 100 days and sometimes approaching 160 days or more.

Until 15 years ago or so ... central ND saw minimal waterfowl pressure and little nonresident pressure. Before 2000 or so most nonresident pressure was Devils Lake, the northern tier counties to Montana, and some in SE ND.

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Bryce

Historically high water levels have changed the equation.

No time for scouting so set up on a hunch. No color and even the grays are showing off their education. full-283-50799-2014_11_0711.00.48.jpg

Scouting not showing a lot but did find a honey hole holding several thousand mallets for the morning. Some snows in the area. Wind to shift to the north later today. Hopefully brings in some new bords.

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fishuhalik

Well, looks like its a flyover year boys. Couple of bros were out hunting the last couple days & watched bazillions (their estimated number, not mine) flying about 500 yards up & fast. Might see a few dropping down to rest but I doubt they'll get settled enough to set up a pattern by the time this cold weather hits next week. Until next year!!!

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fish_hunt_guy

lotta season left fishuhalik lotta season left. and there will still be some birds to shoot wink dont get to excited, it aint over till its over

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lifterpuller

guaranteed corn country in SE and SC will be bonanza city the next 5 days

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CANOPY SAM

Hey fish! Ultimately, a lot of em' are headed down to you now anyway! You'll have to start a 2014 Texas Waterfowl Reports Thread!!! laugh

I know that too much of Texas is locked up in private land, but there's gotta be someplace down there you can shoot at a duck or two?

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fishuhalik

Well Sam, there's this small body of water about 30 mins from my front door I plan to spend a little time on. Hear it gets a few ducks & geese every year. I think it's called the Gulf of Mexico. Heard of it? laugh

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