What are your expectations for the fall hunting season?

District Voices

Published November 1, 2002  | November 2002 issue

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Things look very good for this year, as far as our upland situation. Our pheasants look good across the state—especially in the lower part of the state and very good in the western part. We're offering 10,000 more deer permits this year than last year—up to about 116,000. It's going to be another banner year. Habitat conditions are a little different this year. We had a dry year. Smaller wetlands have dried up, which may concentrate birds a little more. That may be a good thing. I don't think hunters will be crowded yet. I guess that remains to be seen. We still have plenty of wetlands and lots of ducks.
Greg Link, Assistant Chief of Wildlife Division
North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Bismarck

I expect the bird season to be solid and steady, no major change from last year. I expect a drop of 10 percent for deer season sales due to CWD [chronic wasting disease]. Deer license sales are down 30 percent compared to this time last year [late September], which is a huge social and economic impact statewide. Archery will be impacted to a greater extent; baiting was eliminated statewide, and bow hunters were used to that. Deer hunting is the biggest—pumps a lot of money into the state. There's no historical precedence for CWD, so there's nothing to base it on. I anticipate good sales overall, except for deer, which may have a ripple effect.
Mitch Mode, Owner
Mel's Trading Post—Rhinelander, Wis.

We're a new business, so we're not too established yet. We're not fully booked for fall, and we're at 40 percent capacity for the winter, a little better than last year. ... I predict we'll have a hard winter, where the animals are down low [at the base of the mountain] and the harvest will be greater. Hunting licenses for in-state and out-state are at record levels, so I know the [deer and elk] hunters will be coming here. I don't feel that CWD is an issue for our area—southwest Montana.
Kerri Anderson, Co-owner
Arrow Cross Cabins and Shuttles—Glen, Mont.

Our start has been fairly equal to last year. I think we're about 2 percent over last year. The heavy part of the year is in October due to the pheasant season. The economy won't affect traffic, but it does affect the sale of higher-price items. CWD is not a factor in our area. Deer hunting equipment sales are constant. I think our business is steady from local traffic because we're cushioned from the national economy because of farming. We don't have the lows and peaks.
Scott McIntire, Owner
Sodak Sport and Bait—Aberdeen, S.D.

This will be one of our better deer seasons. I would have estimated it to be a record harvest if it weren't for CWD. ... We're looking forward to a better waterfowl season due to the Minnesota breeding population—more birds migrated here because of the Western drought. This should be a banner year for goose, and we're looking at a record bear population, but because of the super-abundant amount of food in the woods, bear baiting isn't working. The pheasant population has improved because we've got better habitat from two mild winters and drier springs, and because the farm bill conservation programs that have improved habitat. Currently, there is a low population of grouse due to weather, but that'll improve. They cycle over a five-year period. CWD has caused the number of deer harvest permits to increase. Minnesotans seem to be approaching this differently than Wisconsinites. CWD has not been identified in our [wild] deer herds.
Tim Bremicker, Director, Wildlife Division
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul

We're not totally booked, but more so than last year—about 50 percent more. We had a couple of articles written about us. In the fall, about 80 percent of our guests are grouse hunters and 20 percent duck hunters. We're booked for the first week of deer hunting season. We're not concerned about CWD. We have a ton of deer, and hopefully it'll be a good harvest.
Joanne Schwanke, owner
Wilderness Bay Lodge and Resort—Watersmeet, Mich.