OUTDOORS: Dakotas provide excellent duck hunting — for a priceWORTHINGTON — I was attending a continuing education class on Wednesday for the financial services industry, which makes up my day job at Rall Financial Services.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — I was attending a continuing education class on Wednesday for the financial services industry, which makes up my day job at Rall Financial Services.
The instructor was a gentleman from Fargo, N.D. by the name of Jim Johnson, and I have been in his class many times over the past 20 years.
He is an avid waterfowl hunter and the season in North Dakota opened last weekend.
Our waterfowl season opens tomorrow.
I used to spend a lot of time chasing ducks in the decades past, but the less than stellar duck hunting in southwest Minnesota has dampened my enthusiasm in recent years.
The number of licenses sold rises and drops just like the duck numbers. If the outlook is really good then hunters will get on the stick and buy a license.
Minnesota has done a better job than most in keeping license sales steady, and I think the good goose hunting has a lot to do with that. I have been out and about a lot in the past weeks, and the number of ducks I see does not give me a great sense of excitement. As the wetlands have been systematically drained and as the water quality in the ones that remains deteriorates, the ducks have shifted to greener pastures, as the saying goes.
Waterfowl that used to migrate through Minnesota seem to have shifted to the eastern part of South Dakota and great duck hunting still remains in our neighboring states to the west. The big problem with this is that both North Dakota and South Dakota really don’t care much for out-of-state hunters.
This is crystal clear when they try to fund just about the entire natural resource budgets on the backs of non-resident hunters and their hunting dollars.
To hunt ducks in South Dakota you must put in for the lottery and be successful in getting drawn. They have in the past in the Dakotas limited the number of non-residents that can hunt in any one area of the state and this is after they have paid the fee of just more than $100 for the privilege to spend 10 days there.
The 10-day deal works just great for residents, as most out-of-state hunters will have to burn one of the two five-day periods to hunt just one or two of those five days over a weekend.
In North Dakota you could spend the same $100 and hunt both ducks and pheasants for 10 days. They got the “beat up the non-resident” mentality a few years back, and now charge a separate $100 for each opportunity. Ten days of bird hunting ducks and pheasants just lightens your wallet by about $200 now.
It is the combination of lack of opportunity in Minnesota and the high cost of the Dakotas that pheasant hunting in the home state has replaced most of my duck hunting.
The fact that the pheasant hunting has been very good just might have helped as well.
Jim was telling me how his buddies sat in a farm field last weekend and picked and chose just the green head mallard drakes that were fully colored out.
Shooting opportunities were plentiful, and duck numbers were exceptional. The Dakotas have been really wet, and this only makes duck hunting better.
It would be a great outing to be able to pass on shot after shot waiting for just the particular duck species that you wanted to harvest. In a few of the past pheasant-hunting trips that I have made to the Dakotas, I had the opportunity to sit on the tail gate of the truck and watched the ducks winging overhead. There was a two-hour period of time one evening that the sky was full of ducks from one horizon to the other. They just kept on coming. I never fired a gun and it was still the most amazing visual sight that I have ever experienced.
We talked about guns and loads and different chokes and a whole other host of hunting subjects. We even covered the overwhelming increase in the cost of shotgun shells. I told Jim that if he hunted here, this would make very little difference as you would have a hard time shooting a case of shells in a whole season in Nobles County.
It was amazing how fast 90 minutes passes when you are talking hunting.
It is my hope that the waterfowl hunting in the state will improve over the next 25 years with that addition of the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Funds. The emphasis for funding in 2010 for all of the eco-regions of the state center around wetlands and the associated uplands that are needed to increase wildlife populations. It will be a slow process, but every good deed starts with the first step.
Duck hunting starts tomorrow and pheasant hunting starts on the 10th. October is a great month and a good, hard frost would be greatly appreciated to knock down the bugs.
Jim told me that a trip to his stomping grounds could be arranged. I will just have to decide if the calendar and the travel budget will allow.
Remember to wear your life vest in the duck boat this weekend and every weekend after that.
Good luck and good hunting.