Tag Archives: waterfowl

congrats to Ducks Unlimited

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BISMARCK, N.D. – April 3, 2014 – The President’s Elite are among Ducks Unlimited’s most prestigious volunteer chapters throughout the nation. Every year, the list is reserved for the chapters that raise $100,000 or more for DU’s habitat conservation work. In 2013, the Bismarck chapter made the list as one of the organization’s best fundraising chapters.

“These fundraising events are the backbone of DU’s habitat conservation efforts, and the volunteers who make up these chapters are the grassroots force making a difference for North American waterfowl populations,” said DU President George Dunklin. “It takes a great deal of effort to achieve the President’s Elite level, and these chapters deserve to be congratulated by every person who enjoys the outdoors.”

The Bismarck chapter earned a spot in the President’s Elite out of the more than 2,600 DU chapters nationwide. DU’s event fundraising system has become a model for other conservation organizations around the world and has funded a significant portion of the more than 13 million acres of wetlands and associated habitat DU has conserved since 1937.

The 2013 President’s Elite chapters also have the distinction of being honored during DU’s 77th National Convention in St. Louis at the end of May, with many chapter representatives in attendance.

“DU chapters across the country are showing that the future of waterfowl populations and the wetlands that filter our drinking water and protect us from flooding are important to them and to their communities,” Dunklin said. “The more money we raise, the more habitat we can conserve and the closer we are to preserving our waterfowl hunting heritage. I would like to personally thank all our President’s Elite chapters for their achievement and look forward to seeing them among our distinguished chapters next year.”

2014 mid-winter waterfowl survey results

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated 71,500 birds were in the state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 40,700 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 12,000 were scattered on Nelson Lake. Lake Sakakawea, declared iced-over on Dec. 14, had no geese on the lake itself. Szymanski said after summarizing the numbers, a total of 52,700 Canada geese and 18,700 mallards were tallied statewide.

“Conditions leading up to this year’s survey were colder than normal, resulting in fewer birds in the state compared to the past couple winters,” Szymanski said. “Most waterfowl were pushed from North Dakota just prior to Thanksgiving, with the exception of those using the Missouri River System.”

According to Szymanski, early December cold temperatures and strong winds pushed most Missouri River birds from the state. Conditions remained the same through most of January, essentially causing all waters in the state to freeze by the time of the survey, with the exception of a few places with fast moving, or warm water.

Overall, Szymanski said although the counts are lower than those observed during the past couple years, numbers of birds remaining in the state are surprisingly large given the harsh weather conditions experienced thus far.

“Snow cover was probably borderline for allowing birds to feed without too much trouble,” he added. “If more snow had fallen in December, this year’s count would have been even lower.”


waterfowl questions

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With the non-resident opener today in North Dakota I’ve had a number of questions on legal transportation requirements. Here it is:


Transportation and Storage

License holders must accompany their game, or parts thereof, during transportation. Except for legally gifted game, it is illegal to possess or transport another’s game, or parts thereof, without the license holder accompanying or as otherwise permitted. No resident of the state may ship game, or parts thereof, out of state without a permit from the Department. A nonresident licensee may arrange shipment of, or personally transport, his/her game from this state. Game may be shipped by common carrier in receipt of proper bill of lading.

No person shall leave or store any game birds at any place other than that person’s legal residence unless each piece of game is tagged with the owner’s signature and address, date taken, number and species of game, and license number of the person who harvested the game.

Game may be gifted to another, however, nothing allows a person to exceed a daily limit. Any gifted game to be transported must be tagged with the above information and display sex and species identification as required. Termination of possession can only be accomplished by: (1) Gifting of legally harvested game, (2) by consuming the game.

No one may possess, store, transport or ship at any one time more than a possession limit of migratory game birds. No person shall ship migratory game birds unless the package is marked on the outside with: (1) the name and address of the person sending the birds, (2) the name and address of the person to whom the birds are being sent, and (3) the number of each species contained in the package. No person shall put or leave any game birds at any place unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the following information: the hunter’s signature and address, date taken, number and species of such birds, and small game or waterfowl license number. The above tag is required if the birds have been left by the hunter for cleaning, storage (including temporary storage), shipment or taxidermy services. No person shall transport migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are tagged as required. Passengers in a vehicle that is transporting their birds are not required to tag their birds.

and the full link:


weekend waterfowl forecast

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

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said the northwest has a record number of wetlands, while the rest of the state has wetland numbers similar to the 2003-12 average.

“Most areas are wetter than last year, with poorest conditions in the southern half of the state,” Szymanski said.

Much of the state has received significant rainfall in the last few weeks, while other areas remain dry. 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.


non-resident waterfowl regulations

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State law restricts nonresident waterfowl hunters to zones (exception – statewide license) and specified days. For waterfowl hunting a nonresident may choose either option (1) hunting in zone 3 only for 14 consecutive days or for two 7-consecutive-day periods; (2) hunting in zones 1 or 2 for 7 consecutive days and also hunting in zone 3 for 7 consecutive days – either back-to-back or split; (3) choosing either zones 1 or 2 and also selecting zone 3 for the same 7-day time period; or (4) purchasing the statewide license which allows statewide hunting for 14 consecutive days or for two 7-consecutive-day periods. Nonresidents may purchase only one waterfowl license per year.

waterfowl regulations



2013 North Dakota waterfowl opener*sigh*

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It’s 11:30AM in Fargo. 57, sunny. no wind.  Bismarck sunny, 55 and a 5mph breeze. Dickinson 61 10mph, sunny. Minot 57, sunny 13mph breeze.

Not the best weather for duck and goose hunting. Not by anyones standards. This is football weather. This is grouse & pheasant weather. This is fall fishing weather. This is mow the lawn, rake the lawn weather clean out the garden weather. This is not duck and goose hunting weather.

If you have any reports post them up or shoot an email to outdoorslive@gmail.com

North Dakota youth waterfowl season is Sept 14 & 15-Doug Leier

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North Dakota’s two-day youth waterfowl season is Sept. 14-15. Legally licensed resident and nonresident youth waterfowl hunters age 15 and younger may hunt ducks, geese, coots and mergansers statewide.


The daily bag limit and species restrictions for the youth season are the same as for regular duck and goose seasons.


Resident and qualifying nonresident youth waterfowl hunters must possess a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Nonresidents from states that do not provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents must purchase the entire nonresident waterfowl license package.


In addition, all youth hunters must be Harvest Information Program certified, and youth ages 12 and older need to have passed a certified hunter education course. Hunters age 15 and younger do not need a federal duck stamp.


Hunters who purchase a license through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department can easily get HIP certified. Otherwise, hunters must call (888) 634-4798, or log on to the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate.


Shooting hours for the youth waterfowl season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. An adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the resident youth hunter into the field, and a licensed adult is required to accompany a nonresident youth hunter. The two-day weekend hunt does not count against a nonresident adult hunter’s 14-day regular season waterfowl dates.


An adult may not hunt ducks, coots or mergansers, but can hunt Canada geese outside the Missouri River Zone. An early Canada goose season license is required.

duck index dips

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North Dakota’s 2013 fall duck flight is expected to be down significantly from last year, but still similar to the good fall flights of 2007-11.


Mike Johnson, game management section leader for the State Game and Fish Department, said the fall flight estimate is a combination of the spring breeding duck survey and the summer brood survey.


Results from the breeding duck survey in May indicated the duck index was down 17 percent from 2012, but still exceeded the long-term average by 73 percent.


May water conditions were up 17 percent from 2012 and 12 percent above the long-term average.


The mid-July waterfowl production survey indicated a duck brood index that was down 48 percent from 2012, but still 27 percent above the long-term average. Average brood size was 7.2 ducklings, up 0.3 from last year. The long‑term average is 7.1 ducklings per brood.


The water index in mid-July was up 60 percent from last year and 67 percent above the long-term average.


The index does not count every water body or duckling in the state. Instead, biologists sample representative transects across the state each year. Over time, survey results provide biologists with trend information that allows annual comparisons of waterfowl production in the state.

Working together for the future of ducks

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BISMARCK, N.D. – June 12, 2013 – Scheels All Sports is investing in conservation in five of the states where its stores are located. The company has pledged a five-year major giftto Ducks Unlimited to conserve habitat in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.

“Ducks Unlimited and Scheels All Sports are natural partners in conservation,” said Scheels President Steve M. Scheel. “DU’s membership includes avid sportsmen and women who know that conservation goes hand in hand with hunting and fishing.”

Scheels All Sports has a long history of supporting conservation by providing products as fundraising tools at events for Ducks Unlimited and other organizations. The first installment of the current gift will go to conserve grasslands and wetlands in the heart of the waterfowl production region of North Dakota.

In 1902, German immigrant Frederick A. Scheel started a small hardware and general merchandise store in Sabin, Minn., with a down payment of $300 Scheel earned from his first harvest on 3 acres of potatoes. Over the years, Scheels has changed its focus to sporting goods, becoming Scheels All Sports, with 24 stores across the northern plains, as well as new stores in Utah and Nevada.

Ron Stromstad, senior director of development for Ducks Unlimited, worked with Scheel on the gift arrangements. “In addition to being ardent conservationists, our membership also enjoys using the products Scheels provides,” Stromstad said. “It was an honor to help Scheels put this philanthropy in place.”

Scheels is known for store associates who are experts on all types of outdoor sports. The stores house a unique collection of men’s and ladies’ fashions, outdoor clothing and footwear; hunting, fishing and gun selections; and equipment for sports such as golf, softball and tennis.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets attwitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos atyoutube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.

it’s all relative

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One thing I’ve learned with close to two decades of work as a game warden and biologist is the outdoors is relative. No matter the deer population if you draw a tag and fill it, odds are you’ll consider it pretty successful. And in similar fashion  if the duck index is strong (which it is) but the weather pushes the birds through or you just don’t have good “luck” hunting, it’s hard to acknowledge a strong waterfowl population. So as the first numbers from the spring waterfowl surveys are crunched keep in mind the numbers may be down from last year…but comparing them to the historical average they are still pretty positive. Here’s the details:

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey showed an index of 3.9 million birds, down 17 percent from last year but still 73 percent above the long-term average (1948-2012).

Mike Szymanski, waterfowl biologist, said blue-winged teal and gadwall saw the largest decline. “Blue-wings are coming off near-record highs, so it’s not unexpected to see the drop,” Szymanski said.

Blue-winged teal were down 38 percent and gadwall 28 percent. However, they are both well above the long-term average – blue-winged teal 42 percent and gadwall 59 percent.

“Duck numbers are still really good, well above long-term averages,” Szymanski said, while mentioning that total duck numbers for 2013 are similar to estimates over the past decade.

Scaup showed a notable increase from last year, while mallards, pintails, shovelers and canvasback were essentially unchanged.

The spring water index was up slightly from 2012. The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands.

Water conditions were good in larger wetlands, but many shallow wetlands were on the verge of drying up the week the survey was conducted. “The somewhat poor wetland conditions probably resulted in losing ducks to Canadian nesting grounds,” Szymanski said. “A big factor was probably that our smaller, shallow wetland basins were not holding much water throughout much of the state and the larger wetlands were all frozen when ducks were migrating through North Dakota.”

Szymanski said water conditions were much better in the northern half of the state. “Duck numbers were down roughly 30 percent in the south central and southeastern areas of the state due to dry conditions,” he said. “However, breeding and renesting conditions aren’t reflected well in our data this year as most of the state got several inches of rain the week following our survey. That won’t change duck numbers, but it will mean better conditions for breeding and raising young.”

Additionally, the loss of CRP acres was evident during the survey, Szymanski said, as massive stretches of land conversion to cropland were obvious. “The loss of grass will hurt production of ducks and other grassland nesting birds,” he added. “However, the recent overly wet conditions will also help bridge the gap a little bit for ducks.”

Breeding was running behind from previous years as more pairs were present and nesting was just getting underway during the survey, Szymanski said. “But we won’t really know how the ducks did until we conduct the July brood survey.”

The July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall.