Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
On November 10, I returned from a successful nine-day upland hunt in North Dakota, where I was accompanied by a few friends and our dogs. This was our first time hunting in the state, and we were not sure what to expect. Fortunately, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDGF) has plenty of information to help hunters plan for a successful trip.
We only hunted publicly accessible lands, including land enrolled in the Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program, Waterfowl Production Areas, Wildlife Management Areas, and other private land open to hunting that is not affiliated with the PLOTS program. Even after arriving several weeks into the upland seasons with many other hunters before us, our group was able to bag plenty of pheasants, a handful of sharptails, and some Hungarian partridges. My six-month-old English pointer even got in on the action. The trip provided him with several solid bird contacts, as well as the opportunity for a few good points.
A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) upland hunting trip in North Dakota should be something on every bird hunter’s bucket list, and it is something that can be done affordably and efficiently, thanks to the work of the NDGF. The Peace Garden State offers a large amount of publicly accessible land through their PLOTS program and their Wildlife Management Areas. PLOTS are private lands open to hunting and may range from grasslands to crop lands. I recommend spending some time researching the PLOTS in the area you plan to hunt to make sure it has the right habitat for the game you are pursuing. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-managed Waterfowl Production Areas also provide great locations for upland birds, in my opinion, the NDGF Wildlife Management Areas provided the best opportunities and upland habitat. Not only did we find plenty of birds in these areas, but we also saw moose, pronghorn, mule deer, and whitetails.
For those willing to put in a few miles and some research, a mid-season trip to hunt upland birds in North Dakota is well worth the time and effort.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?