Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mike’s Great Adventure - 2013

After Action Report: Mike’s Great Adventure -­ 2013 (written by the group attended)
Dates: 12-­‐16 October 2013

Location: Rolling Plains Adventures, Sterling, ND Swamp mates in Attendance:        
Wayne and Mike Parent
Bob Palombo
Bruce Ross

Seems the Parent boys got caught in Chicago traffic on their way from Virginia, and had to delay their ETA several times prior to a 7pm arrival at Bruce’s in Wisconsin on 11 October. But when they arrived, there were warm smiles all around, and a dinner of brisket. After dinner, ignoring the siren call of the beds, we sorted out whether to bring one or two dogs (decision: two), and what would fit in Bruce’s truck based on that decision (how many mojo’s does a group really need anyway???). Gifts were exchanged that would feature in the coming hunts (Devil’s Backbone Brewery hunting hats and Bruce’s homemade call lanyards).  

The next morning, Callie started the ride with us in the cab of the
truck because of her track record of being a good travel companion—

Tar started in the crate in the bed of the truck. Tar did get some time in the cab, only to be relegated back to "the black hole" due to her anxious whining (in spite of, or perhaps because of, her desire to sit in Wayne’s lap during the drive.) Lesson learned: No whimpering at the beginning of a trip or you’ll be kept in the dark the rest of the way.

The drive was mostly uneventful, except Wayne’s curious detour through a suburb of Minneapolis, and his circuitous route to Cabela’s in Rogers, Minnesota (to procure some thermoses). Neither of these maneuvers served to reduce drive time, but it was the shortest and most

focused trip into Cabela’s I have experienced. Lesson learned: Don’t allow Wayne or Mike to drive in congested locations if time is of the essence—and neither is a particularly astute navigator, and both are easily distracted.

Arrival at RPA was a warm reunion of friends—connecting with Bob "Let Me Show You My Scar" Palombo there and the RPA crowds of Jeremy, Ashley, and Jay Doan. We were given the first floor rooms at RPA’s "new" lodge (recently renovated old Sears Roebuck family homestead). Accommodations were great and the lodge is really well done. (And thanks Bob, for giving Bruce the bottom bunk). However,
it seemed to offend Bob that someone may actually be sitting on his
toilet (beyond the members of his group), since the bathroom was
readily accessible to other lodge guests. Lesson learned: Bring your own "Private" signs to the

RPA lodge to temporarily post if you’re anxious about sharing your bathroom.
Day 1: Set up in layout blinds on the shore of one of Jeremy’s newly created ponds. Birds whizzed overhead before shooting hour, building anticipation in the group who were setting out decoys. Of course, this did not include Bob as he had failed to bring his waders. But he did offer several good observations about the precise positioning of several decoys that were much appreciated by the men doing the actual work. Some recollections:

Wayne: An amazing shot over his shoulder, followed by six clean misses. It should here be first noted that if a bird (or birds) came within shooting distance of Wayne and Mike’s locations, vollies of no fewer than 5 shots could be counted on. Mike was sporting a brand new auto-­‐loader—and he seldom let an opportunity to empty it pass him by. This was often followed by "Hey, can you toss me another box of ammo?" This shooting pattern may also be somewhat connected to Jeremy’s commentary from the central blind. Lesson learned: (1) If you are hunting with Mike, bring plenty of ammo, and (2) If you are easily embarrassed by your shooting, don’t take Jeremy on your hunts (Note:
Jeremy believes this may have led to his
impeachment as our Guide later in the
There were several long retrieves by
Callie—and a non-­‐retrieve for Wayne’s initial BWT in the cover behind his layout blind. He ultimately had to collect it himself after Jeremy and Bruce failed to find it, and after the dog seemed unable to raise any scent. Tar took a very long blind
cast for a wounded bird that paddled away to the far side of the pond—but the retrieve was forsaken after the bird was out of sight several hundreds of yards away on the very far side of the pond.
Despite the inconsistent shooting, BW and GW Teal, shovelers, mallards and pintails
were seen and collected that morning on a nice hunt that should have resulted in limits all around but which, suffice to say, did not materialize. Still, we enjoyed the morning immensely and seemed to do as well or
better than the other groups-­‐-­‐it was a great start to Mike’s Great Adventure, and we looked forward to what the afternoon would bring.
After lunch, Jeremy set us up on the World’s Longest Sunflower Field and for some reason, didn’t come with us… The walking, long as it was, was relatively easy, but for 45 minutes, we saw no roosters -­‐
-­‐ maybe a few sharptails that were probably out of range, even if we had identified them in time… but then again, maybe they were hens. As we approached Mile

Marker 3, the field took a 90-­‐degree bend in a swale. To the eyes of the experienced pheasant hunters in the group, this was a natural place to position a blocker, and Mike was sent to assume the position. This may have been a mistake, as this was Mike’s very first pheasant hunt and he adopted a position that was close enough to force the birds to flight, but not close enough to shoot any of the 40 or so roosters which came out at the field’s end.

Still, we now knew there were shootable birds in the area, and worked a field of switch grass, pushing pheasants until Bruce finally brought one to bag. Then Mike dropped his first wild rooster with a nice shot and retrieve. Here it should be noted

that Mike took the shot in spite of Bruce’s cry of "Hen!". [Bruce later confessed that any bird at which he does not have a clean shot is a "Hen!"]

It became clear to us that the birds were hiding in the tree rows bordering the fields, and we concentrated our attentions there. It was a wonderful hunt, leapfrogging blockers and pushers down the row, watching the dogs investigate the downfalls and thicker areas of the hedgerows, and regular shots at birds. This was also Callie’s first wild bird hunt, and she accelerated along the learning curve in these hours, beginning to learn and emulate Tar’s methodical, windshield wiper hunting style. Bruce was quite proud of the dogs at the end of the day—and he was just pontificating to "always trust the dog’s nose" when the two dogs broke left—to

an area of virtually no cover beyond the 6 inch high wheat stubble—and a here-­‐to-­‐fore invisible

rooster erupted. Although Bruce nearly dropped his gun from the ready position it had assumed on his shoulder, three guns barked out and the bird dropped. Wayne later wounded a rooster that tried to evade capture by sitting in a badger hole, but he brought it to bag just the same. Back at the truck, a particularly loquacious rooster responded to Bruce’s call, but took off just out of

Mike’s range… Everyone got at least one bird that afternoon, with a total of 6 collected. Another

good hunt.

Day 2 dawned grey with a consistent light rain, and found us perched—in layouts—on the bank of a large cow pasture pond: Some good flights of teal, pintails, gadwalls, and mallards; The possibility of a small flight of geese; the "Layout blind chills"; a really long-­‐distance retrieve for Callie; and some of the worst shooting seen in the state of North Dakota since, well… the last time we were there. Lesson learned for most everyone: On wet days, put your collar up and your waders on the inside of your jacket. And if one of your buddies fails to bring his waders, offer him your spare set of waterproof pants BEFORE the hunt. Lesson learned for Bob: Always bring your waders.

After scuffling for first access to the dryer back at the lodge, and although Jeremy attempted to discourage pheasant hunting due to the foul weather ("… the birds hunker down and don’t fly, the dogs don’t get scent, and besides, what great weather to duck hunt!"), Bruce postulated a keenness to chase pheasants that was sufficiently compelling that even Wet Bob was willing. But not before providing a specification to Jeremy to put us in a pheasant field that included mowed cover-­‐-­‐at least the walking paths-­‐-­‐under a roof. Wayne noted that Bruce had already made the decision to hunt pheasants that afternoon, but was giving the rest of the troupe an opportunity to make it their own idea.

Jeremy did his best to match Wet Bob’s specification (but the roof was at best notional, and could be mistaken for low, scudding clouds). And in spite of the rain, we actually had a good hunt, seeing a fair number of birds, and being once again reminded-­‐-­‐in arrears-­‐-­‐that a good place to station a blocker is where the birds are ostensibly being pushed to, and so much the better if the blocker is placed in position prior to the actual eruption of birds.

There was an illuminating anecdote at that particular juncture (i.e., the moment of bird eruption) just as Wayne was lying on his belly crawling under a fence. Always safety conscious, Wayne had handed his gun off to Bruce prior to beginning to crawl. So Bruce found himself with an excess of firepower at the precise moment when the roosters decided they had had enough dilly-­‐dallying afoot. Bruce later recounted his mental weighing of possibilities in those micro-­‐ seconds—he could:
(1) Watch impotently as the roosters flew away. However, he reasoned, he really wanted to show Jeremy that there were birds to be had, even on a day like that, so he rummaged deeper for a more effective response option. (2) Throw Wayne’s over-­‐under into the mud/water and take the birds with his
own gun. This option was discarded as unkind to a fine gun that really hadn’t done Bruce any wrong, and besides, Bruce was holding his own gun awkwardly in his left hand and a sound shot was unlikely. (3) Throw his own gun into the water, shouldering, then firing Wayne’s gun.
Since Bruce hadn’t brought a gun cleaning kit, and anyway, it was Wayne who
was out of position, why should his own gun end up mucked? Bruce moved on to option four;
(4) Since he had Wayne’s gun in his right hand, grasped around the pistol grip,
and since he was generally pointed in the right direction, maybe he could just shoulder Wayne’s gun and fire one-­‐handed? He reasoned such a maneuver would help him better empathize for our one-­‐limbed warriors returning from the field of battle and maybe, just maybe, he would connect with one of the now fleeing cockbirds. What a story that would be! This clearly seemed to be the best option, so Bruce leaned into the rising gun, found the safety (only a little fumbling) and pulled the trigger. Alas, the only result was the flatulent cackle of an escaping rooster. Lesson learned: Practice firing one-­‐handed at the trap range PRIOR to hunting with Wayne.

In spite of the comedy played out by Wayne and Bruce, both Mike and Bob collected a bird. Bruce handed the gun back to a sodden Wayne, with only one shell remaining in the gun. Fortunately, we were only half way thru our hunting adventure at RPA, so Wayne still had a couple of shells with which to reload. More opportunities, but no birds collected on the walk back to the truck…
The evening hunt found us knee deep in a series of sloughs, with Mike, Bruce and Callie to the north and Bob and Wayne (with Tar) out of sight to the south, only a few paces off the mud ruts that now passed for a road. There were indeed a lot of ducks
trading back and forth, with some early
shooting in the south, but later—and more effective—shooting in the north. Wayne was impressed—concerned?—with Tar’s ability/willingness to stand for hours, chest deep in the cold water, peering about for birds, without whine and without loss of focus. This could not be said for Bob, who—has this already been mentioned?— had failed to bring his waders. And Bruce

was impressed with Mike’s ability to cycle shells through his auto-­‐loader. However, Mike did bring down a towering mallard drake –a "three curl bird". See picture of Mike above, asking for more shells.

Day three found us back at the same set of sloughs we had hunted the evening prior, but further north. Bob "I See No Need for Waders" Palombo took up a position in the boat that carried our gear, and offered navigational guidance as we pushed the boat to the cattails. It’s good to have such a strong a leader in our group. He might have offered some tips to Mike about wading as well because Mike quickly found himself closely exploring the bottom of the
slough—but he mostly dried out by the end of the hunt. Lesson Learned: If you weigh more than it says you weigh on your Law Enforcement ID card, stay close to the leader’s boat to keep your head above water. However, it is also possible that the leader may inadvertently overload his boat, making it unstable and prone to shipping

water—in which case stay far enough away that the leader can’t grab you for support as the boat

begins to slip beneath the waves. See picture at left with Bob striking his best "George Washington crossing the Delaware" leadership pose., and above, at a moment of rare balance in the boat.

We were once again reminded how difficult it is to ID waterfowl before sunrise, even though you can shoot thirty minutes before that time. Was it mentioned there were a lot of coots in the area? When dawn did arrive, it found a grey drizzly morning, with the bird work characterized by high flying, very large groups of birds with occasional smaller, lower flights of birds that would look at the
decoys, and maybe offer a shot. Nevertheless,
we shot ourselves down to the final three shells. Realizing
that staying longer wouldn’t necessarily increase our bag,
but merely deplete us of shells and delay our lunches, we left with those three shells (and a few birds). Lesson learned: If your shooting has been consistently amiss, don’t presume your last few shells will find their mark, especially if lunch is ready. [See picture to left showing group at lunch]

After a really good lunch (every meal was terrific!), we set out for pheasants in a memory-­‐ filled field of grasses, trees, scrub and sunflowers—we had hunted this field that Jeremy usually reserves for bowhunting on our previous trip and after realizing what a great hunt we had had there before, were really excited about working it. Initially focusing on the treelines, Callie pushed a bird in front of Bruce, who dropped it cleanly, which Callie then delivered to hand—a

nice memory of her developing pheasant acumen, shown in the picture below. The shooting was

sporadic after that, but with the dogs working strongly until one or two or three—or maybe all four—of the hunters tired and found themselves laying down in a sunflower field… from then on, Tar took a more leisurely pace as it was clear the hunters

were not serious about this hunt. A few missed shots, a few hit birds, and by the close of the afternoon, the

hunters and dogs were left sated but exhausted.

Other remembrances…
The NLCS /ALCS championships
playoffs—Bob missing the BoSox Grand Slam come-­‐from-­‐behind… The dog’s enjoyment of the spareribs and carrots that they found conveniently stored outside the lodge …
Which held more mud? The inside
or the outside of Bruce’s truck…
Non-­‐hunter clients at a hunting
More frozen birds than could be fit in the cooler…
Jeremy’s towel found inside in the truck, and accusations of cases of RPA toilet paper also stashed in the
back of the truck…

It had been 4 years since we were last at RPA, and there were some changes, but Jeremy, Ashley, Jay and Jerry claimed to recall our earlier trip with some fondness—and we certainly enjoyed seeing them again. Lesson learned: Don’t go so long between visits to RPA. Or so long between reunions of great friends. Or bringing new folks into the Great Friends category. Or….

The subsequent three-­‐hunt visit to the NePee Nauk Club in Wisconsin is the subject of a separate, and classified, annex to this After Action Report. But the picture below provides some

sense of the event.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pheasant Hunting Licenses and Regulations

Licenses and Regulations

Pheasant hunting in ND is managed by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.  Their website contains a wealth of information related to licenses, bag limits, and other regulations.  A thorough description of regulations is given in the annual Small Game – Furbearer Proclamation issued by the Governor each year.  The proclamation sets the season dates and regulations and when signed by the Governor, it has the force of law.  Another handy resource is the North Dakota Small Game Hunting Guide published by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.  These two short documents will give you the necessary legal information for hunting in ND.  You can also read the hunting laws in Title 20.1 of the North Dakota Century Code

I have highlighted a few of the nuances to hunting in ND below, but I suggest you read the Proclamation and Small Game Hunting Guide in their entirety for exact terminology and descriptions.

Unless you own your own hunting land, all hunters born after December 31, 1961 must have passed a certified state or provincial hunter safety course in order to purchase a small game license in ND.

There is no minimum age for hunting, but everyone under 15 years of age must be licensed and under direct supervision of a parent, guardian or an adult authorized by the parent.

Licenses can be purchased in the state at authorized locations, but online purchasing is quick and easy.  Non-resident hunters will need to choose two 7-day periods or one 14-day period of hunting at the time they purchase their licenses.  These dates can be changed later for a small fee.

Non-residents must purchase a non-resident Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate ($2), a General Game and Habitat License ($13), and a Small Game License ($85) in order to hunt pheasants.  You will only need to purchase one Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate, and one General Game and Habitat License each year.  You can purchase as many Small Game Licenses as you wish.  For example:  If you wanted to make four different weekend trips to ND it would cost you $185. ($2 for a non-resident Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate, $13 for a General Game and Habitat License, and $170 for two non-resident Small Game Licenses since each license is for two 7-day periods)

Hunting Times and Limits:
The pheasant hunting season typically starts the second Saturday in October and ends in early January.

Typically, during the first week of pheasant season, Non-residents may not hunt any game on North Dakota Game and Fish department wildlife management areas or Conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas.

Pheasants can be hunted from 1/2 hour before sunrise until sunset during the regular season.

Daily Limit: 3 Roosters
Possession Limit: 12 Roosters

Other Regulations:
Shotgun must be capable of holding no more than 3 shots and must be no smaller than .410 and no larger than 10 gauge.

If hunting in an area where non-toxic shot is required, you must not have any toxic shot in your gun, your pockets, or within reach.

It is illegal to shoot a firearm while in or on a motor vehicle.

It is illegal to carry a firearm in or on a motor vehicle with a shell in the chamber.  However, it is legal in ND to carry your firearm uncased with shells in the magazine.

It is illegal to drive motor-driven vehicles off of established roads and trails while hunting small game unless written permission is gained from the land owner and it is not during deer gun season.  Established roads and trails do not include temporary trails made for agricultural purposes.

Motor-driven vehicles are not allowed on PLOTS areas.  These areas are for walk-in only.

When transporting harvested pheasants, one leg and foot, OR one fully feathered head, OR one fully feathered wing shall remain attached to the bird until it reaches its final place of storage.

It is illegal to hunt on posted lands without permission from the owner or tenant.

Any person may enter upon legally posted land to recover game that was shot or killed on land where he had a lawful right to hunt as long he does so without carrying a firearm or bow.

It is illegal to hunt in unharvested crops, including sprouted winter wheat, alfalfa, clover and other grasses grown for seed, without the owner’s consent.

Do not hunt on roadways unless you are certain they are open to public use.  Most road rights of way are under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed for hunting.

An individual must harvest his or her own limit.  Party hunting is not allowed.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

North Dakota Pheasant Season Opens This Weekend!

In recent years, the number of pheasant hunters in North Dakota has dropped below 100,000, with a harvest running about 600,000 roosters annually.

Ring-necked Pheasants

Regular Season Opens: Oct. 12
Delayed Opener: Oct. 19
Regular Season Closes: Jan. 5, 2014
Delayed Season Closes: Jan. 5, 2014
Daily Limit: 3
Possession Limit: 12
Shooting Hours: Half-hour before sunrise to sunset.
Those of us living in the south central and southwestern parts of the state thought we had it good last winter, but then a blizzard arrived in mid-April, depositing snow and lots of it.
This is just what we didn’t need at a time when pheasants were leaving winter cover for breeding areas. And then, when the snow finally did melt this spring, May arrived with almost continuous rain throughout the state.
With 75 percent of the Game and Fish Department’s roadside brood routes completed as of this writing, preliminary numbers indicate total pheasants are down about 30-40 percent statewide from last year, the lowest since 2003. In addition, brood observations were down 43 percent, and the average brood size was down 4 percent.
So it goes on the Northern Plains. Habitat and weather play important roles in the number of pheasants we see each fall, so a long, harsh winter or a spring blizzard can certainly cause problems with the breeding population. Initially, things appeared not to be as bad as first thought. Spring crowing counts were only down 11 percent statewide from 2012, and were comparable to 2011 counts.
In recent years, the number of pheasant hunters has dropped below 100,000, with a harvest running about 600,000 roosters annually. It seems that whenever we have a harvest of 500,000 roosters or more, hunters are seeing plenty of birds and they deem it a good pheasant year.
Whether we can maintain that level of harvest is uncertain, regardless of weather conditions. As we are beginning to see, removal of CRP from the landscape is occurring in many areas, most notably in the southern half of the state. Removal of this nesting and brooding habitat will surely have a negative influence on our pheasant population.
Stan Kohn, Upland Game Management Supervisor, Bismarck

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another Buck Down!

Another Big Buck Down!

Chris, from Georgia, shot this nice Whitetail at Rolling Plains Adventures this September on the first day and first hour of the hunt!  Lets hear the story.

It was Saturday evening and Chris was getting packed up  from the lodge on the ranch to head out hunting.  The weather was a little warm, but the wind was perfect.  We left for the stand at about 5:30 and Chris was settled in the stand by 6.  Last light is around 9:30 at this time of the year.

With only a few minutes of sitting, here comes a doe right to the stand.  It moved back and forth into the corn field for the next hour or so, so when it appeared again, Chris assumed it was the doe.  It was a buck this time.  A nice 9 pointer.  Without hesitation, Chris went through his checklist in his head to make the perfect shot.  When he knew it was a shooter, he told himself that it will be like shooting another doe to keep him calm.  At about 20 yards, Chris went full draw with his arrow pointing right at the buck.  At about 7 pm, the arrow was released right into the vitals.  Perfect shot!

The buck ran about 90 yards before going down.  What a perfect way to end your hunt on the first day....first hour of your hunt! 

Congrats Chris!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Youth Pheasant Weekend Oct. 5-6

Youth Pheasant Weekend Oct. 5-6

Monday, September 23, 2013
North Dakota’s two-day youth pheasant season is Oct. 5-6. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger may hunt roosters statewide.
Resident youth hunters, regardless of age, must possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. Otherwise, nonresident youth hunters must purchase a nonresident small game license.
Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Youth ages 12 and older need to have passed a certified hunter education course. The daily bag limit and all other regulations for the regular pheasant season apply.
An adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter in the field. The adult may not carry a firearm.
See the 2013 North Dakota Small Game Hunting Guide for additional information.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Corey Scores again @ Rolling Plains Adventures

Corey returned this fall for another opening weekend bow hunt at the ranch.  Bow season opened labor day weekend or Friday at noon.  Corey stated "I am not going to shoot my buck early this year, like I did last year."  Well Corey, you waited until your second nights hunt to score this buck. 

It was Saturday evening in the stand (bee hives stand) and it seemed like a perfect night.  We dropped Corey off around 5 PM and we received a call by 7PM.....BIG BUCK DOWN! 

This buck came right in to about 20 yards of the stand.  Corey drew back his bow and slammed his arrow perfectly into the vitals of this buck.  The buck only ran about 100 yards, and it was over.  We went right to the buck for some field photos, and were out of the area one hour before dark! 

This buck is going to look great on your wall Corey, great job again!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Duck hunting season getting very close!

  Duck and goose season opens very soon in North Dakota and we are pumped.  The habitat looks great, the duck and goose numbers are strong, and the dogs are ready to go. 

If you have traveled through North Dakota this summer, you will know what I am talking about when I say the numbers are strong.  There are ducks everywhere!  Any pond, pothole, or lake is loaded up with ducks. 

If you aren't excited about duck hunting yet, come to North Dakota and you will be!  See you soon!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

North Dakota Bow Season Opens Friday!

  Who is excited about bow season opening in 2 days?  I know we are!  We have been out scouting for months now and we will see how it all pans out as the first archery hunters take stand on Friday. 

It will be hot though, so we are positive the movement will be slower.  Luckily, we only need a couple of minutes before dark to bring one of those big boys to the ground.  So far many of the bucks are moving with plenty of daylight left. 

We all have high hopes of great success this early archery season.  Good luck to all hunters hitting the field this fall.

From your team at Rolling Plains Adventures,

Happy Hunting!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

North Dakota Pheasant Hunting Forecast

North Dakota – Pheasant Population Up 59 Percent (from ND Pheasants Forever)

Forecast: North Dakota pheasant numbers will be improved over all portions of the state compared to the past few seasons, up 59 percent as indicated by the state's roadside survey count, reports Stan Kohn, Upland Game Management Supervisor with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department. Kohn says mild winter weather and good spring weather plus nesting habitat availability in the spring equated to better nesting success and brood survival. Last year, hunters bagged 683,563 roosters in North Dakota.

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate the number of broods was up 37 percent and number of birds observed was up 30 percent from 2011. Observers counted 19 broods and 168 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 6.5. “Census numbers indicate this district will have the best pheasant numbers in the state this fall,” Kohn said. “A stronger breeding population this spring coupled with good production should provide hunters with plenty of birds and a good number of young birds this fall." Kohn says while the southwest portion of North Dakota will have the best numbers, wingshooters would be wise not to overlook the central part of the state.

Results from the southeast show the number of birds observed was up 134 percent from last year, and the number of broods was up 144 percent. Observers counted nine broods and 88 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 6.6. “Even though this district shows a large percentage increase, pheasant numbers were pretty low last year,” Kohn said. “With that said, hunters should see more pheasants than in 2011, especially after row crops are harvested.”

Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are up 258 percent from last year, with broods up 268 percent. Observers recorded nine broods and 79 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 6.3. “Similar to the southeast, hunters should temper expectations because numbers were low in this district last year,” Kohn said. “There will be some areas where pheasant hunting will be slow.”

Season Dates: October 12 through January 6, 2013
Daily Bag Limit: 3
Possession Limit: 12
Field Notes:: If you’re thinking about traveling to North Dakota, note that if you’re born after 1961, you must complete a certified hunter education course and show proof of certification when buying a license.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

North Dakota is prime duck and pheasant hunting!

If you have never experienced North Dakota in the fall, you need to add it to your bucket list. 

The ring neck pheasant hunting is some of the best in the country.  You will witness thousands of pheasants while visiting this great state.  Hunting pheasants is so much fun to do alone with your dog, or with a large group of buddies. 

The duck and goose hunting in North Dakota is also at the top of the list.  North Dakota is known as the "duck factory" or the breeding grounds for many ducks.  North Dakota is also the pot hole region, which is perfect for nesting and hunting.  Early season you will find strong local numbers of ducks, while mid to late season you will find the big migration coming through.  This is the time you will have the chance to witness the tornado's of waterfowl pouring into your decoy spreads.  If you have never had the opportunity to experience this, this is a must.  If you are not a waterfowl hunter, I guarantee you will become one once you experience  how fun it truly is!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

North Dakota Pheasant Season only 3 months away!

  The North Dakota Pheasant season opener is only 3 months away.....and counting.  The guides and staff at Rolling Plains Adventures are getting very excited for this time of the year.  Its the sounds of the roosters crowing early in the morning, to the sounds of the shotguns going off, you just have to experience this to know what I am talking about. 

  North Dakota pheasant season is like a holiday...EVERYONE is out in the field chasing the wild rooster.  Pheasants are flying everywhere, laughs are had by all, and I am sure there will be missed shots!  Don't worry, we won't tell!!!

  Remember, at Rolling Plains Adventures, we offer the Fully Loaded Package.  This package allows you to hunt ducks and geese in the morning and upland / pheasants and grouse in the afternoon.  After a nice day of hunting in the field, you will have the privilege to dine in the Grand Lodge and sip on your favorite drink at the Ranch Saloon. 

All this talk about hunting and pheasant opener is getting me WAY to excited!!!!  I can't wait for the fall!  See you soon!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

2013 Pheasant Hunting Season Outlook

The nesting season for the ring neck pheasant is still going strong.  Some have hatched, but many of them are still on the nests.  There is a strong number of hens on their nests, so it is great news if the conditions cooperate.

There is a strong bug population right now and the weather is turning warm.  These are ideal nesting conditions for the pheasants.  We have received above average rainfall this year.  In June alone, we received about 13 inches of rainfall.  At least all the rain has created more bugs for food, plenty of cover, and plenty of drinking water for the chicks.

If we do get a strong hatch, we are very excited to get out into the fields this fall.  We have changed so much of the habitat and added so many new fields.  All the guides are ready to take hunters out this fall, so get ready for a great hunting season!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pheasant Ecology: Nesting Cover


Ideal pheasant cover is relatively easy to define Ideal pheasant cover is relatively easy to define

Throughout the pheasant range, nesting cover is the single most important limiting factor for wildlife populations. Thankfully, it remains one of the few factors we can directly impact by establishing the right vegetation and managing it correctly. Hen pheasants start nesting beginning in April within residual vegetation from the previous year and conclude by mid-July. It is during this time pheasants need secure and undisturbed cover.

Ideal nesting cover is:

  • Secure - cover providing overhead and horizontal concealment from predators
  • Undisturbed - cover free from both human (mowing, dog training) and weather related (flooding) disturbances

Pheasants live out their lives within a home range of about one square mile, requiring all habitat components (nesting cover, brood habitat, winter cover and food) to be in close proximity. Ideally, 30-60 acres, or about 5-10% of this range should be nesting cover. Larger blocks of cover are preferable to narrow linear strips. However, linear cover, like waterways, roadsides, and field borders, is important to wildlife on a landscape level.

Points to consider

  • Linear cover is easier for predators to search during nesting; however, it benefits pheasants significantly after nesting by providing travel links between fragmented agricultural habitats. Hint: Southern Minnesota studies have shown that for linear cover up to 60 feet wide, nesting success for pheasants goes up 1% for every 1-foot increase in strip width. Wider is better
  • Research tests have shown 20 acre blocks to be the target size for maximizing nest densities
  • Roadsides are mowed and burned far too frequently. Delayed mowing, and spot mowing or spraying accomplishes weed control in roadsides at less cost and does not disturb nesting hens
  • Roadsides provide important grassland habitat, with up to five acres of potential nesting cover along each mile of rural Midwest roads. In some areas, 40% of pheasants in the fall population are produced in roadsides

Establishing Nesting Cover

Providing proper nest cover should be the cornerstone of all pheasant management plans. Establishing nesting cover requires land, funds, and manpower. Consult with a Pheasants Forever chapter if you have questions about grass seed mixes or other nest cover concerns.

Cool or Warm Season Grass

Cool-season (non-native) grasses like timothy, orchardgrass and tall or intermediate wheatgrass begin growth in the cool, spring months. They reach maturity by early summer and then become dormant until cooler fall temperatures stimulate growth again. Cool-season grasses are generally easier to establish, cost less, but require more intensive management to retain their productivity. Single species stands of cool-season grasses are of little or no value to nesting pheasants.

To realize their potential as nesting cover, cool season grasses need to be mixed with legumes such as alfalfa, alsike, and red or sweet clover. Even with maintenance, most cool-season grass stands must eventually be replanted because the legumes are out-competed by the grass and eventually die.

Warm-season (native) grasses such as indiangrass, switchgrass, big and little bluestem begin growth much later in the spring, reaching full maturity in late summer or early fall. Warm-season grasses produce high quality cover when cool-season grasses lie dormant. If left undisturbed, these grasses may provide good winter habitat and residual nesting cover for the following spring. Warm-season grasses are generally more difficult and costly to establish, but are easier to manage. Typical management includes controlled burning on a 3-5 year rotation.

Diversify your plantings

Pheasant chicks in a nest Pheasant chicks in a nest

Single grass stands may be easier to plant; however, mixed stands of cool or warm season grasses complemented with forbs will provide greater diversity and consequently be more attractive to wildlife. Interseeding legumes or planting separate plots of cool-season and warm-season grasses can also improve nesting and brood-rearing cover.

  • Cool-season grass/legume mixes typically contain tall or intermediate wheatgrass, orchardgrass, timothy, redtop and alfalfa or one of several clovers
  • Warm-season mixes usually contain switchgrass, indiangrass, big blue-stem, little blue-stem and 4-10 forbs such as butterfly milkweed, prairie asters or clovers, coneflowers, sunflowers, indigo, and stiff goldenrod

Managing Nesting Cover

The wildlife value of grasses generally declines as vegetation ages, and the vigor of the cover is diminished. It is for this reason that managing nesting cover is usually more important than what species you choose to plant.


Controlled burning (in early spring) is a critical tool in the management of grasses. Woody plants and other unwanted vegetation can be eliminated by proper use of fire. Burning also releases the nutrients bound in the plant litter, stimulating vigorous new growth following the burn. Burning can be very dangerous if not done properly as grasses produce extremely hot fires that spread rapidly.

  • Before you burn, make sure to contact your local biologist, fire department and NRCS office to receive the necessary burn plans and permits
  • Burning should be done every 3-5 years


Mowing of any type of cover (for haying, weed or brush control) should be delayed until after the nesting season has concluded (mid-July). In newly established areas, mowing the first year is a good idea if weed competition is severe. After cover is established, mowing segments of a field on a 3-4 year rotation will keep the vegetation rejuvenated. Leave 10-12 inches of cover after the last cutting, particularly with warm-season grasses. This is a sufficient height to provide some residual cover for nesting and to protect plant vigor.

  • Whenever possible, use spot mowing rather than blanket cutting for weed control
  • Remember, there is absolutely no reason to mow (disturb) nest cover during the nesting season


Light mechanical discing in the early spring can also restore plant vigor by opening up a stand of grass and reducing the effects of crowded root systems. This practice is more attractive for wildlife because it effectively increases diversity by creating a seed bed for annual herbaceous plants.

Where to find help

Pheasants benefit from good nesting cover Pheasants benefit from good nesting cover

Various federal, state and private conservation programs may help defray some of the cost of establishing nest cover. Contact your county USDA Farm Service Agency office, state wildlife agency or local Pheasants Forever chapter to start. These same agencies oftentimes rent specialized planting and maintenance equipment. Habitat design assistance is available from state wildlife agencies, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, or your PF regional biologist.

A measure of success

There are many good types of nesting cover. A simple field exercise to test the adequacy of your nest cover would be to throw a football 20 feet into your habitat. If it disappears and there are several species of grasses and forbs around the ball, you likely have adequate cover. Conduct this test in mid-April and then monitor the field to ensure there is no disturbance for the next 3 months. Finally, remember that nesting cover is dynamic. If the cover looks great this year, chances are it won't look that good in 2 years. Plan ahead to manage grass cover successfully. In all likelihood, it is the very best thing you can do for pheasants in your area.

Still confused about nesting cover?

Then try the Pheasants Forever Essential Habitat Guide - a handy reference on all kinds of pheasant cover, including shelterbelts, food plots and nest cover. And, be sure to check with your local Pheasants Forever chapter, where you will find cost sharing, planting assistance, or just advice from a friendly chapter volunteer.

Article from Pheasants Forever

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Approximate Dates for Lotteries, Applications, and Regulations

Approximate Dates for Lotteries, Applications, and Regulations

SeasonApproximate Dates
Applications Available
Lottery Dates
Approximate Dates
Regulations Available
Spring Light GooseEarly FebruaryN/AEarly February
Spring TurkeyLate JanuaryEarly MarchEarly March
Moose, Elk, Bighorn SheepEarly-mid MarchMid-late AprilEarly-mid April
Deer Gun, Muzzleloader, & Youth DeerEarly-mid MayEarly-mid JulyEarly-mid July
Fall TurkeyEarly-mid JuneLate JulyLate July
Pronghorn (** - If Season is Authorized)**Late July**Late August**Early-mid August
SwanLate JulyLate AugustEarly September in Waterfowl Guide
FishingN/AN/AEarly March, every two years
Small GameN/AN/AEarly-mid August
FurbearerN/AN/AEarly-mid August
WaterfowlNonresident apps late MayN/AEarly-mid September

How The Weighted Lottery Works

What species are covered by the weighted lottery? 
First lotteries for deer gun, muzzleloader deer, pronghorn, swan, and spring and fall wild turkey.
How does the one-year grace period affect an applicant's eligibility?
An applicant can miss applying for a year without losing points; however, the applicant loses bonus points by failing to apply for two consecutive years.
How do bonus points accrue in the weighted lottery?
An applicant unsuccessful in drawing his or her first choice permit in the first lottery this year receives a bonus point for next year's lottery. See the following table:  (Note that in years 2, 3 and 4, the points are doubled; and, for years 5 and beyond, they are cubed to increase the applicant's chances of drawing a permit.)
Number of Times Applicant's Name Goes Into The Weighted Lottery
Year Bonus
Multiplier + Current year's
=Total times
your application
goes in lottery
(year 1)0-+1=1
(year 2)1x 2+1=3
(year 3)2x 2+1=5
(year 4)3x 2+1=7
(year 5)4cubed+1=65
(year 6)5cubed+1=126
In the previous example isn't the applicant guaranteed a permit in year four or five?
No. There is no guarantee. The lottery is a random drawing. In most cases when an applicant reaches this point he or she is likely to draw a permit. However, for some licenses, particularly antlered mule deer, where demand for tags vastly exceeds supply, many applicants have the same number of bonus points and thus, even for those with many points, there is considerable competition.
Why do applications ask for a social security number and do I have to give it?
Yes. State law requires social security numbers on all license applications in order for the state to receive human services funding from the federal government. 
To keep track of my bonus points in the last few years I used the bonus-point-ID number issued by the department instead of my social security number. How do I keep from losing those points?  Contact the department's licensing section and they will make sure to give you those points accrued under the previous number system. 
If I receive a permit for my second choice license, do I lose my bonus points?
No, bonus points apply only to first choice in the first lottery.
If I have bonus points and apply with a party, how does this affect me?
On party applications the person with fewest points sets the level for the entire application. Applicants with more bonus points than others in the party have a better chance applying separately.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Snow Goose Hunt on the Ranch!

Taking you on a snow goose hunt on the ranch.  In this video you will see over a thousand snow geese coming in to a pond and hunters putting a stalk on them.  It is very icy conditions for this stalk, but it will hopefully be a great hunt.  Watch and see how the stalk goes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Taking you behind the scenes on a rifle hunt!

Rolling Plains Adventures filmed one of our clients (Dan Kennedy) this past year on a rifle hunt.  Dan has come out to the ranch for several years now and has had some great opportunities.  Check out the video put together of his hunt!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring has arrived on the ranch!

  Spring is finally here and the weather is warming up.  Most of the snowfall has melted this past week with temperatures reaching into the mid 60's.  March is a great month to get outdoors on the ranch. 

  Looks like most of the deer have lost their antlers now and it is time to hit the fields shed hunting.  There are a lot of nice bucks out that we hope to find sheds from.  We will keep you posted to what we come up with very soon.

  The pheasants are starting to roam more and get out of their winter areas.  It will not be long until the snow geese start moving through as well. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pheasant Season 2013

  If anyone is interested in booking a pheasant hunting trip for the 2013 hunting season, the opening date should be Saturday, October 12, 2013.  Duck or waterfowl season should open 2 weeks earlier. 
  Now is the time to start planning for your upcoming adventure.  We hope to see you this fall!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Newsletter

Rolling Plains Adventures February 2013 e-newsletter
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Rolling Plains Adventures 
February e-Newsletter! 
Rolling Plains Adventures is excited to keep you updated through bi-monthly e-newsletters highlighting all the adventures occurring on the Black Leg Ranch in North Dakota.  Feel free to share your comments with us via facebook or e-mail.

Our bi-monthly e-newsletters will feature hunting news and facts in North Dakota, projects being worked on for the next hunting season, and an alternating feature column from "The Stand" - focusing on deer, "The Blind" - focusing on waterfowl, or "In the Field" - focusing on pheasants.

This 2012 hunting season was a great year at Rolling Plains Adventures.  There are plenty of hunting shots in this video of pheasants, waterfowl, deer and coyotes.  ENJOY! 

Snow geese have yet to make their way into North Dakota this year, but are expected to arrive very soon.  Hunters are reminded that species identification is extremely important because white-front (speckle-bellies) and Canada geese travel with light geese.  The spring season is closed to white-fronts and Canada geese.

These birds are long-lived and travel in large flocks, so thousands of experienced eyes examine every potential feeding and resting place for danger before landing.  They normally move through North Dakota quickly, their arrival and stay depend on weather and availabilty of open water and food.

Several hunters claim that few outdoor experiences can compare with being at the center of a swirling-vortex of several thousand squawking snow geese settling into a decoy spread.

Here are a few tips to improve your odds hunting snow geese:

1. Drive back roads to locate fields where snow geese are feeding.  Scouting where the geese want to be is the key to success.
2. Snow geese usually return to a field until the food is exhausted.
3. Hide all signs of human activity, including tire tracks and any other non-natural items.
4. Park vehicles at least a half mile away.
5. Set out a minimum of 300-500 full body decoys.
6. Wear camouflage or white if snow covers the ground.
7. Electronic calls will work on large groups of snow geese, while often a mouth call can be used for single birds or isolated pairs.
8. For maximum shooting opportunity, wait until the birds are in front of the blinds.  Snow geese may circle many times before they are in gun range.  These birds are also known for leaving a decoy spread for no reason at all.
9. Focus on one bird at a time.
10. Take your first shots at birds that are at the fringe of your effective range, then work your way back through closer birds.
We have captured great photos of many deer at Rolling Plains Adventures.  The above photo was taken the end of 2012 and we continue to get amazing photos of huge deer that survived this season.

The deer at Rolling Plains Adventures will begin to lose their antlers very soon and we will continue to be out in the fields searching for them.  Typically, late winter into early spring are the ideal times to start looking for shed antlers. 

If you are heading out searching as well, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Don't hunt too early.  If you bump a one-antlered monster, it's not likely you'll find both sheds in that area.
2. Glass winter-feedings areas where deer congregate (i.e. corn, soybean, and hay lots) every few days until you see few, if any, bucks with antlers.  Then start looking.
3. Hang digital cameras around feeding areas.  Once the bucks in your images go antlerless, start hunting!
4. Check trails that enter and exit a feed field.  Bucks often walk only 100 to 300 yards and then lie down out of the wind on the first east or south facing hillside.  You might find sheds on or just off a trail or along the bedding slope.
5. Rainy days are great - sheds shine and catch your eye.  Bones can be tough to spot in brown grass lit with sunlight.
6. The biggest mistake people make is to wander around, looking too far out front and all over.  Mark off small grids of land, walk slowly over each and look straight down at the ground for sheds.
Our guides at Rolling Plains Adventures work very hard to retrieve all game.  This video highlights one of our guides, Jay, working hard in action!  Will he accomplish his mission?

Watch and see the outcome!
The Blind:

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated 159,000 birds were still hanging around the state.  In summary, a total of 127,000 Canada geese and 31,700 mallards were tallied statewide.
The Stand:

Recently we went scouting and counted around 1,000 deer within 5 square miles.  We were very impressed by the amount of mature bucks that had made it through the hunting season.  We saw the big 9 that is roughly a 170" buck, as well as the big 10 with the split brow.  We also saw over 50 bucks that were 135" plus in size.

Right before dark, we watched a big 10 (160s) and a big 8 (150s) that were still aggressive towards each other.  It seemed they were still chasing does.  We were hoping to find some sheds, but it looks like they were still attached.  This is a a sign of healthy deer herds. 
In the Field:

We have had another mild winter at Rolling Plains Adventures.  The pheasant population is very healthy and strong.  Last year the pheasant population was up 59% statewide and if we have another ideal nesting season, this year's brood counts should be higher than last year.  
Copyright © 2013
Rolling Plains Adventures
All rights reserved

Our mailing address is:
24401 62nd Avenue SE
Sterling, ND 58572

Our email address is:

Hunting - Contact Jeremy Doan 701-367-3737
Guest Ranch - Contact Jay Doan 602-510-6094