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marine_man

Waterfowl Season Starts Saturday

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Here's an update from the GNF:

Dry conditions covering much of North Dakota have waterfowl biologists cautioning duck hunters to scout early to determine whether favorite marshes will be huntable this year.

Mike Szymanski, waterfowl biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said below average annual precipitation will affect areas available to hunt. “Much of the state was without significant snowfall last winter, and spring was very dry,” Szymanski said. “These conditions left habitats such that few ducks initiated nesting efforts early.”

While June rains didn’t necessarily improve wetland conditions, it did spark some late nesting by mallards, gadwall and some blue-winged teal. However, reproduction was spotty, as few ducks were produced in the western two-thirds of the state, with average production further east.

“We carried a relatively large breeding population from previous years, so it’s not to say that hunters won’t encounter ducks this fall,” Szymanski said, while noting breeding conditions in prairie Canada appear to be similar to those in North Dakota. “It’s just that a higher proportion than normal will be adult birds that are not as naïve to hunting pressure.”

While most of the state is drier than it was last year, the eastern third appears to have the most moisture. Biologists will conduct a fall wetland survey in mid-September to quantify wetland conditions across the state.

Goose hunters can expect another good fall flight based on biologist observations. Resident Canada geese continue to be abundant across the state. However, Szymanski said a low nesting effort will result in fewer geese in the western portion of the state. “Dry conditions out west not only resulted in lower reproduction, but also more adult birds leaving the area to molt their flight feathers,” he added.

Reports from the Arctic indicate good weather conditions this summer. While biologists have not yet conducted reproduction surveys for Arctic nesting geese, conditions should result in a good fledging rate. “There certainly will be more young birds in the fall flight of light geese than last year, which was essentially a reproductive bust,” Szymanski said.

Opening day for North Dakota residents to hunt ducks, geese, coots and mergansers is Sept. 27. Nonresidents may begin waterfowl hunting in North Dakota Oct. 4.

Resident hunters must possess a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. In addition, hunters ages 16 and older must have a small game license and federal duck stamp.

Nonresidents must purchase a nonresident waterfowl license, including the general game and habitat license, and certificate. Hunters age 16 and older must possess a federal duck stamp. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. See the 2008 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide for details.

All migratory bird hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters who purchase a license through the state Game and Fish Department HSOforum (gf.nd.gov) or instant licensing telephone number (800-406-6409) can easily get HIP certified.

Otherwise, hunters must call 888-634-4798, or access the department’s HSOforum, and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required only once per year in each state that is hunted.

Hunters should refer to the waterfowl hunting guide for season regulations including licensing requirements, dates, bag limits, season zones and nonresident hunting zones.

marine_man

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I am planning on heading out with a few of my buddies. A lingering foot injury from football has recently resulted in a fracture in my foot, but that will not stop me, I'm going out on crutches!

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While I agree that a certain percentage of ND residents do this, I would argue that a larger percentage do not.

That said, any hunting pressure among local ducks (since it is almost never cold enough to start the migration when the season starts) will move ducks out of their roost, especially when they're hunted on their roosting spots.

marine_man

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I go to school as well as hunt in Valley City my Fish and Wildlife professor has commented many times on the amount of CRP that has dissappeared. I have noticed this as well when duck hunting last weekend as fields have been plowed and turned into cropland, but not only fields but also smaller weetlands within fields have been drained and plowed over.

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I heard today on the radio that Out of State license sales are down 50 percent from last year. They said it could be a combination of the drought and high gas prices.

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I heard today on the radio that Out of State license sales are down 50 percent from last year. They said it could be a combination of the drought and high gas prices.

I would agree with the last part. I remember when I first moved to ND Marine_Man and I would load up and burn a tank a fuel on both Sat and Sun most of the season that was done when a tank as about $35. Now it is two to three times that it is nuts. I guess I will stick with spending my money on deer hunting.

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We go for a week in Oct to North Central North Dakota for waterfowl. Some in the family have been going for over 20 years. We canceled out yesterday. Just too dry. We called some contacts in the area we hunt and were informed it was worse than last year and last year was bad! Last year, sloughs we hunted in the past were dry enuf to walk across in tennis shoes.

Maybe next year will be better or we will look for a different area of the state.

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Just got my license for the last weekend of October. This will be my second time in ND, but I won't be going to Devil's Lake this time. I'll be going with my roommate who is born and raised there, so it should be a great time!

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one of my buddies from school is going upby devils lake this weekend for a 4 day hunt and my dads buddy and his wife are going to bismark for a 10 day hunt. my dads buddy must really like it up there in bismark because he was justb there for 14 days fishing in the FLW walleye championship. he and his partner did really good in the tournament. tommy skarlis (his partner) got 1st and my dads friend ross grothe got 4th. both guys are great guys to fish with.

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Hunted between Jamestown and Valley City all last wknd with not much to show for it. Set up in a stubble field Saturday morning that had 500 geese on it the night before, and was fortunate to have some gentlemen bust the roost 20 min before shooting time. We ended up shooting 3 geese. Set up on some water that had a couple hundred mallards and Canvasbacks that evening; ended up with 6 mallys, 2 gads, and 2 teal. All were in early plummage, so I'm assuming locals still. We really need a push of fresh birds from up north. There were a fair number of ducks south of 94 last wk, and it appears these are northern birds. Still nothing in really great numbers that I've seen though. Overall it's been a really tough year this year compared to last.

Hey, at least gas prices are plummeting so I can afford to get out more right!?

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Fishlakeman i think said it best. i have been out a few times, but a sports related injury has really hampered my season so far. i have had buddies go out near Valley City and limit on ducks and geese fairly quickly but i also had another buddy who had his dad come out and for him the ducks were hard to come by. i do think alot of this is loation and knowledge of the area though. still waiting for the big push of birds to come through

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Hopefully this cold, rainy windy weather will push some down from up North... sounds like it might be colder next week as well, 39 for a high on Sunday right now, which should help.

marine_man

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I was out last weekend around Devils Lake and Lakota. I had never been to ND hunting before, but the hunting was not as good as I had expected. Seemed that there were a decent number of birds in the area, but didn't see many flying. We would see large groups in the fields, but not much moving around for them. I am confident our potholes were not the best spots, but I do beleive we should have seen more birds. We did end up getting a mixed bag of teal, mallards and gadwalls.

A buddy and I are going back during Halloween weekend for the second of our seven day periods. We are trying to determine about heading back to the Lakota area, or trying the Valley City area. Just by quick glances at the PLOTS maps, it appears to be about equal amounts of water and public hunting options in either area. Does anyone have any suggestions on which area? Any ND residents, do you know of any publication by the ND Game and Fish Department that provides migration reports?

Also, another topic, we are trying to determine if we should focus on potholes or on field hunting? We would have access to goose field decoys, but no ducks. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks for any help.

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If you have a spinner you should be fine pulling some ducks in. They love those things in the fields. In a pinch I have used a dozen or so floater mallards in the field and done fine. Just make sure you turn off the spinner when the geese are coming in.

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