OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: N.D., Minnesota pheasant surveys etc.

N.D. pheasant numbers up from last year BISMARCK -- North Dakota's pheasant opener is still nearly three weeks off, but results from a roadside survey conducted in late July and August show the population is in much better shape than last year, e...

Youth Sportsman Day
Youth Sportsman Day: More than 200 kids and 350 people, in all, attended the annual Youth Sportsman Day last Sunday at Crookston Gun Club. Participants got the chance to try archery, trapshooting, BB and pellet gun shooting, .22 rifle target shooting, laser shot education and sling shot. This year's youth day also featured two new events -- a sporting clay station and a .22 caliber moving targets shooting gallery. Free Coke products and a meal were served, free Youth Sportsman Day T-Shirts were given out...

N.D. pheasant numbers

up from last year

BISMARCK -- North Dakota's pheasant opener is still nearly three weeks off, but results from a roadside survey conducted in late July and August show the population is in much better shape than last year, especially in the southern half of the state.

Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, said total pheasants were up 34 percent statewide from last year, brood observations were up 26 percent, and average brood size was up 14 percent. Still, Kohn said, pheasant numbers are down roughly 40 percent from the peak years of 2003-08.

Here's a look at the survey by region:


- Southwest: Brood numbers and birds observed were up 30 percent from 2009. Observers counted 19 broods and 165 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was six.

- Southeast: Broods and total birds were up 30 percent, at 10 broods and 76 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 5.2.

- Northwest: Brood numbers were up 9 percent from last year and total pheasant numbers were similar. The survey tallied seven broods and 48 birds per 100 miles with an average brood size of 5.1.

- Northeast: Not known for pheasants, the district had a 30 percent decline in both birds observed and broods recorded. The survey produced 1.3 broods and 12 birds per 100 miles with an average brood size of 5.36.

North Dakota's regular pheasant season is Oct. 9-Jan. 2; the two day youth season for hunters age 15 and younger is Oct. 2-3.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Minnesota pheasant

index similar to 2009


MADELIA, Minn. -- Minnesota's pheasant index remains unchanged from 2009 but is 22 percent below the 10-year average, the Department of Natural Resources said.

A severe winter, fewer acres of habitat, and a cool, wet June all contributed to what DNR wildlife biologists are calling a below-average pheasant population.

The best opportunities will be in the southwest, where observers reported 104 birds per 100 miles of survey driven during the annual summer roadside survey. Hunters also will find good opportunities in the central and west central regions, where observers reported 76 and 70 birds per 100 miles, respectively. This year's statewide pheasant index was 63 birds per 100 miles.

-- Herald staff report

Work set to begin

on DL carp barrier

DEVILS LAKE -- Work is scheduled to begin later this month on a project to install permanent protection to keep carp in the Pembina River watershed from crossing a small divide in Cavalier County, N.D., and entering the Devils Lake basin.

According to Lynn Schlueter, special projects biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Devils Lake, the bulk of the project involves raising a small stretch of prairie trail near Loma, N.D., by about 3 feet. Right now, the only thing keeping the carp from crossing the Pembina River side of the divide and entering the Devils Lake basin is a half-mile wall of cattails.


If all goes according to plan, the project should take four or five days and be completed about Oct. 1, Schlueter said.

-- Brad Dokken

N.D. bighorn count

remains strong

DICKINSON, N.D. -- Two consecutive severe winters took a toll on North Dakota's bighorn sheep population, but overall numbers remain strong, the Game and Fish Department says.

According to Brett Wiedmann, big game biologist for Game and Fish in Dickinson, a July-August survey in western North Dakota showed 289 bighorn sheep, down 20 from last year and 27 below 2008's record summer survey.

"Let's keep in mind we are comparing this year's count to record totals, so all things considered, I am pleased with our current numbers," Wiedmann said.

Bighorn sheep can tolerate frigid temperatures, but deep snow causes problems, he said.


The survey tallied 94 rams, 150 ewes and 45 lambs -- 231 in the northern Badlands (a decrease of 11 from last year) and 58 in the southern Badlands (down nine).

"The northern Badlands herds are carrying the population right now," Wiedmann said. The department's survey does not include an additional 30 bighorns that inhabit the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

North Dakota's bighorn sheep hunting season opens Oct. 22 and continues through Nov. 4; Game and Fish issued six licenses.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

DNR plans meeting

on Leech walleye regs

WALKER, Minn. -- The DNR has scheduled a public input meeting for 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 13 at Walker-Hackensack-Akeley school in Walker to discuss proposals to maintain or modify walleye regulations on Leech Lake.

The DNR is considering maintaining regulations established in 2005 that require anglers to release walleyes from 18 inches to 26 inches with a four-fish bag. A second proposal would require the release of 20- to 26-inch walleyes, with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in the four-fish bag.


Submit written comments to or by postal mail to DNR Area Fisheries, 07316 State 371 N.W., Walker, MN 56484. Telephone comments can be made by calling the Walker area fisheries office at (218) 547-1683. Comment deadline is Oct. 25.

-- Minnesota DNR

Did you know?

- North Dakota now has 30 Pheasants Forever chapters with the addition of the new Hawks Nest chapter in Foster County. The chapter plans to hold its first fundraising banquet this fall. For more information, contact chapter president Chris Augustin, Carrington, N.D., at (701) 265-2473 or .

- The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program and Delta Waterfowl are hosting the third annual waterfowl hunting workshop for women Saturday and Sept. 26 in Bismarck. Info: Nancy Boldt, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, (701) 328-6312; or e-mail .

- Just in time for peak fall colors, a new visitor center at Grand Portage State Park along the North Shore of Lake Superior will be the subject of a community celebration Saturday. Info:



- Most of the Heartland State Trail between Walker and Cass Lake, Minn., will be closed through Oct. 15 for repairs, the DNR said. Info: .

- The DNR is offering several public lands in northern Minnesota for sale at a public auction set for Oct. 26 at Bemidji City Hall, 317 Fourth St. N.W. Registration begins at 10:45 a.m., with the auction to follow at 11. Parcels in Beltrami, Hubbard, Itasca, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, and Wadena counties will be up for sale. Info:


- A red-breasted merganser painted by Kevin Nelson of Burnsville, Minn., will be featured on the 2011 Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp. The $7.50 duck stamp is required of all Minnesota waterfowl hunters age 18 through 64. The DNR offers no prizes for the winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work.

- Meetings to discuss experimental regulations on Lake Winnibigoshish and connected waters are set for 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Bug-O-Nay-Gee-Shig School, located on U.S. Highway 2 between Cass Lake and Bena, Minn.; and 6 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center Training Room, 402 11th St. S.E., Grand Rapids, Minn. Existing regulations require anglers on Winnie to release all walleyes from 17 inches to 26 inches, and staff will explain several options to change the regulations. Comments also may be submitted through Oct. 22 to the DNR Area Fisheries Office, 1201 E. Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744, or by e-mail to .

- The DNR has adopted an emergency rule making 55-acre Lester Lake in Hubbard County a catch-and-release only fishery to protect populations of bluegills, northern pike and largemouth bass.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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