Changes Over The Years

Discussion in 'North Dakota Flyway Forum' started by PorkChop, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. PorkChop

    PorkChop Elite Refuge Member Supporting Member

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    Seems like quite a few threads get derailed about how things were in past years so I figured I would start a new post on changes we have all seen.

    I have only lived in the state since 2004. Here are some changes I have seen.

    When I got here (Minot) early goose season started in September and it was five birds a day. Usually you would start finding good feeds the last week of August. It was nothing to have an A, B, C, and even a D field. We hunted just about every day with easy success. Most feeds were a minimum of 75 birds but finding a field with a couple hundred in it was not out of the ordinary. Lessers started showing up around 8 -10 September and by time the regular season came there was good amount of them around.

    Now at least for me I am lucky to find a feed of honkers in the early season with 50 birds. Lessers don’t show up till later in the regular season and we don’t see nearly the amount we did my first years here.

    Another change has been the Snowgeese. Lake Darling used to have a pretty good bunch and it was nothing in the fall to have several feeds to choose from. In recent years I can’t tell you the last time I found a decent feed of snow geese on the ground in this area that I would consider hunting. Seems like they are here for a couple days and then they are gone. Mostly they seem to just fly over.

    Specklebelly‘s use to be a rarity. Usually you could find one or two with the Snowgeese or the lesser’s. Now it is not uncommon to find good size Specklebelly feeds.
     
    Mean Gene and Dean Nelson like this.
  2. Dean Nelson

    Dean Nelson Moderator Goose Hunting/North Dakota Moderator

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    Specks are still hit or miss down here but over all they are definitely trending upwards. Snows in my area were never much to talk about and most guys would head for the northern tier county's if they wanted to hunt them. Now the moment the guys up north say they are seeing them crossing the border they start pouring in down here in vast numbers. The big switch I've seen lately was the almost over night change in how the cranes migrate in. Used to see huge flocks but right around 2010 they just up and vanished. The local honkers are working on finishing up their PHD studies on how to avoid Hunters at this point... Or at least that's the way it seems and the little guys damn near don't exist in the area where they used to be the main thing! The only birds I can think of off the top of my head that I cannot name any significant changes towards where when and how they migrate are the swans and teal.
     
  3. Ratboy

    Ratboy Senior Refuge Member

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    I have been coming out since '97 and have seen noticeable differences over the years. I see a lot more smaller geese (snows, lessers, etc.) in the last 5 years compared to the big geese. Snows usually come down mid-late October and are predictable when they will be there. It is harder to hunt the snows as they are heckled non-stop. I agree the numbers are not what they used to be though too. Sorry I might have stated the obvious. :)
    The last 3-4 years have been difficult on ducks for us anyway. They are staying longer in Canada until the weather ultimately pushes them out. Last year the cold weather pushed the locals out and the northern birds weren't down yet. We used to have 3-4 really good hunts/week on mallards and now we are lucky to get 1. I do know weather is the major factor with this. Our group is starting to go later and hope we don't get froze out. Hopefully this year will be better.
    As far as local honkers, the first 2 days of our early season in WI, the geese had their PHD's. I couldn't believe how wary they were the first day and they were going to the same fields.
     
  4. Jethro48

    Jethro48 Refuge Member

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    When are you going to be up there? This is my 2nd trip up there. Ill be up there october 29th thru November 9th we come home. Hoping to hit it better then i did 3 years ago was there about Oct 23 thru 28th i think it was. Was to warm that year birds just started showing up day or so before we left!
     
  5. Dean Nelson

    Dean Nelson Moderator Goose Hunting/North Dakota Moderator

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    Yeah that stretch of time you listed you came before can be a bitch. Locals are shot to hell and northern birds just starting towards the tail end. The 27th has sorta become my benchmark day since that's right about the time the first legitimate flocks start to arrive from the north but peak is normaly Nov 10th or later baring freeze up.
     
  6. Duckslayer100

    Duckslayer100 Refuge Member

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    What he said ^^^^
    It's always going to be a crap shoot. But historically the last few days of October and first week of November are peak for migrators. I've seen some of the thickest feeds of chubby Canadian greenheads on the way to deer camp. Always is a bittersweet moment that makes me second guess my family's venison addiction for a bit.
     
  7. PorkChop

    PorkChop Elite Refuge Member Supporting Member

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    I used to always tell family and friends when they would come to make it after Halloween. Deer season was always killer for the birds. The last three or four years that has been bad advice as we have been getting a cold spell in October which has pushed most the ducks out. Then things thaw out and goose numbers are still good. Hoping for a better weather year. I don’t think the cold snaps have affected the guys in the south like up here.
     
  8. Ratboy

    Ratboy Senior Refuge Member

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    Somewhere around the 27th. I don't know the exact date yet. Depends on my boy's football schedule.
     
  9. in2b8er

    in2b8er Refuge Member

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    Rochester MN
    First years in DL 2004-2007 we would come mid october. Very few posted no hunting signs 50% of fields not posted. ducks were plenty where we hunted. The body of water we hunted on was 3-4' deep. 2008-2013 large amounts of water, roads gone everywhere and with it came a huge surplus of posted fields. the lake we hunted on went to over 10' deep. cattails vanished but the fresh water shrimp boomed. divers every where. lots of pass shooting. had to adjust tactics and find the waterways and back sloughs that held puddle ducks. 2014-2018 waters dropped 5'-6'...still waiting on the cattails to come back. need 1 more dry year up there. still metric crud ton of ducks produced there. lots of habitat for duck production. only problem is land access. the 2-3 guides in that area know their stuff and know how to keep the field hunts to themselves. Leasing large sloughs and fields around the sloughs to allow mini refuges to exist. It's been fun looking back on the pics from the hunts and seeing all the different places we hunted in the area from fields, to small sloughs, to large lakes and the waterways where we would beat down on the gadwalls. NR opener is still my favorite time up there. Will be my 16th season up there and my 2nd time bringing my 6 year old son with. He loves it and has been asking since July when are we going to North Dakota.

    Bird numbers have always been good, 2014 we went late october. was 70-80 degrees every day Probably the worst mallard numbers i had ever seen, but we did shoot our fair share of divers/buffies. 2016 was the first year I saw a large migration of snows into our area. So cool watching them drop into a field from a mile up.

    Will be coming out for NR opener and again oct 24-28. Excited as always for the time in camp with old and new friends and passing on the tradition to my son.
     
    Jethro48 likes this.
  10. Jethro48

    Jethro48 Refuge Member

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    Understand that my sons last game is October 5th but hes still fairly young!
     

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