Southwest ND Hunting Advice?

Discussion in 'North Dakota Flyway Forum' started by Flying Dutchman, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Flying Dutchman

    Flying Dutchman Elite Refuge Member

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    Okay, so let my start by confessing this is probably another internet scouting post. It is my hope, however, that what I'm asking for won't hurt or crowd the hunting of anyone else, so possibly, it would be okay to ask and possibly get some advice. The Refuge Forums have been good to me a time or two in the past and I've offered to hunt with members here, in the past, in an effort to share the wealth. If you see fit, would you mind reading on and possibly sharing some advice?

    I'll be coming to southwest ND (Bowman/Haley area) in October. The guys I'm coming with (there are four of us) are largely pheasant hunters and that is their focus, but they duck hunt, too, and we'd love to mix our bag while we're there.

    Now, so you know (and in case it matters), we've reserved hunts with Dueling Dakotas out of Bowman for hunting and lodging. They have said that they have over 1500 acres on which they'll "semi-guide" us for pheasant hunting. That said, they told us that if we wanted to duck hunt on their property, we were more than welcome to spend some of our time duck hunting. So, we're hoping to mix in some waterfowling, too, but we're largely on our own for the ducking.

    With that, my crew has asked me to find out what I can about how people hunt ducks in SW ND. We are from Michigan where, basically, we don't have any ducks. We hunt over water in large, public marshes. We have some cut corn field hunting and that can be very good if you can find access, but it's really hard to come by. We have the boats, decoys, layout blinds, etc. to hunt just about any way that I know of, but we were wondering what to expect and whether there was a reason to prepare to hunt a certain way.

    With that, I really have two questions. First, do you happen to know what that Bowman/Haley, southwest ND area is like for duck hunting? The outfitters said they have ducks around but didn't seem like it was really their thing, so they couldn't give us much info about them. Are there areas in SW ND near there that we should check out? Is it worth driving the back roads looking for potholes with ducks? What don't I know?

    Second question: What methods or types of hunting produce best in ND? Is it mostly field hunting on cut corn fields or mostly setting up in cattail sloughs along potholes? Should we bring boats/kayaks/canoes, or is everything walk-in? Does a spread of floating mallard dekes pretty much do it, or should we have a variety of species? Can Canada geese be found? Do we bring the big field spread (roughly 25 doz with a mix of full bodies, shells, and silos), or settle for a couple of bags of floating geese dekes?

    Obviously, I don't expect you to take hours to answer this question, but any advice you could pass along would be appreciated. I am expecting that we'll remain on the ranch that we are reserving the majority of the time we're there, so it's not like we're coming to add waterfowling pressure, if we can help it. I hope you can see fit to share a little insider knowledge. Thanks for anything you wish to share!

    Chad Miller
    Michigan Hunter
     
  2. zoops

    zoops Refuge Member

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    That's pretty far from pothole country in ND. More of high plains around there; quite arid. Not that there isn't some water around, but it's mostly limited to stock dams and a few small reservoirs. I'm guessing you could find some geese and ducks, but again opportunities will be limited.
     
  3. Flying Dutchman

    Flying Dutchman Elite Refuge Member

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    I was afraid of that - being more of a waterfowl hunter than a pheasant hunter, myself - but the location has been chosen, so we'll do what we can. Hopefully, we can scratch out a few in between the limits upon limits of pheasants we're going to shoot, right?
     
  4. KEN

    KEN Moderator Moderator

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    SW North Dakota is not a good waterfowl area. It is ranch country. Pheasant hunting can be really good. Sharptails also. There basically aren't any ducks there,except late season mallards that have migrated down from Canada. There are however some decent spots for large Canadas on the stock dams and reservoirs.

    There is no water hunting. Field hunting only.Everything is posted for pheasants and deer. So ask your guide if he has any dams with Canadas on them. Go to the GNF website and look at last years PLOTS guide. It will show GNF land, Federal land and most of the water. Also look at Google Earth and zoom in to show water.

    As for pheasants.....my group has been hunting pheasants in SW North Dakota for around 25 years. 2017 had one of the worst droughts ever. Extreme down there. When we talked to the farmers where we hunt.....they said they were seeing NO broods at all. Young pheasants eat mostly insects and with the drought there weren't any.....they starved. For the first time we cancelled going there. How many years will it take before they recover? We are guessing a couple good years. So we may not go back this year either. Will just have to wait and see. Check the spring crowing counts and late summer brood counts done by the GNF.

    When are you going?
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
  5. Dean Nelson

    Dean Nelson Moderator Goose Hunting/North Dakota Moderator

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    Bowman is a bit of an odd duck. Having driven through there a fair few times seeing flights of ducks and geese were not a surprising thing and sometimes full on expected. Not sure how many the lake itself holds but the water treatment plant in town used to be stuffed so would guess that may also hold true outside of town as well. White butte NWR north east of town used to get pretty stacked up in October as well but like the other spots it's been a few years since I went through there so not sure how much has changed. Like holds true with all West River locations most guys out East will tell you there's nothing out there but the guys that go driving around out there will tell you you won't find many but when you do you'll often find a ton of them in one spot. Nothing like watch a heard of a few mule deer and Antelope playing around and then suddenly finding 25,000 snows sitting in the next field being bombed by mallards. But these are tricky spots to find in the first place let alone get on to hunt. Anytime you find that kind of bird flock isolated it's for a reason.

    Over all I myself would not recommend any group hunting anyting south and west of the river right now those pheasants took it seriously bad last summer losing 90 to 95% of their population. Most groups I know Don in the hedinger Mott areas gave up after a couple days due to massive loss birds in one single year....So adding that to the pile or lack thereof for waterfowl and I would be eyeballing something east of the river or a combo Hunt is far far faaaaaar easier to put together.
     
  6. PorkChop

    PorkChop Elite Refuge Member

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    I drove through that area the first week of Oct 2016. I saw 5 to 6 sizeable goose feeds, geese flying and a few ducks.
     
  7. NR

    NR Elite Refuge Member

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    It's boom or bust. You may find an awesome field feed but it's needle in a haystack and if guys who make their living taking money from hunters aren't giving you the big "rah rah BS" that guides do, that should tell you there aren't many opportunities.

    If you see 50 or less on a stock dam, set up a jump shoot. If you see 100 or more, plan to set a dozen dekes and forget the spinner.

    You are kind of trying to pound a square peg in a round hole. Go pheasant hunting, sleep in, have fun and relax.
     

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