Tag Archives: duck hunting

wetland conditions

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates good to excellent wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout most of the state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said the northwest has a near-record number of wetlands, while the rest of the state has wetland numbers similar to, or above the 2003-13 average.

“Most areas have fairly similar conditions compared to last year, with improvements in the central part of the state,” Szymanski said. “Really, we seem to have pretty good numbers of wetlands holding water statewide. The western half of the state is the wettest, but other than a few smaller isolated areas, hunters across the state shouldn’t have issues finding wetlands holding water.”

The western half of the state received significant rainfall in August. Hunters should be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots and areas like tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard.

The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is predicated on weather conditions and patterns. Szymanski said strong reproduction for ducks in breeding areas both in and outside of North Dakota makes for good fall hunting potential.

“Hunters should always scout because of ever changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl,” Szymanski said.

The wetland survey is conducted in mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season, to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect.

duck boat safety

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Waterfowlers hunting from boats are urged to wear properly-fitted life jackets while on the water.

Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said eight people have drowned in state waters since 1998 while hunting from a boat, and all were without life jackets.

“Sadly you hear the same thing – they are too bulky, it prohibits me from freely swinging my shotgun,” Boldt said. “There are no excuses anymore. You can buy comfortable hunting jackets with life jackets already built in.”

Capsizing and falling overboard from small boats are the most common types of fatal boating accidents for hunters. “Usually there is another hunter or two, plus dogs, decoys and other gear in the boat,” Boldt said. “An overloaded boat can quickly become unbalanced.”

In addition, wearing a life jacket will not only keep the overboard hunter afloat, but also help him or her to slow the loss of critical body heat caused by exposure to cold water.

“Water temperatures in the fall are extremely cold, and sudden immersion can cause problems ranging from hyperventilation to heart attacks,” Boldt said. “Wearing a life jacket reduces the panic and allows a person time to evaluate the situation.”

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