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  • 21 May 2014
    North Dakota Outdoors North Dakota Game and Fish Department Doug Leier   You’ve made your list and are checking it twice, anticipation for fishing is growing faster than your lawn this spring. Current license – got it. Life jackets – check. Next stop, open-water fishing 2014. The only thing holding you back from a day on the water is Mother Nature, but that’s spring in North Dakota.   The past 20-plus year wet cycle has produced marvelous fishing in North Dakota. From Devils Lake to Lake Sakakawea and in hundreds of spots between, great opportunities exist for fishing in rivers, streams and local impoundments. Safe to say it’s been a heyday for anglers.   It’s interesting to observe human nature any time a few weeks or even a month of dry weather pops up, and we immediately wonder if the next dry cycle is upon us and threatening many of our lakes? The truth of the matter is, we really won’t know that until it happens, and in most case there’s not much we can do about it.   One threat that anglers can do something about, and need to address, is aquatic nuisance species, which will likely present a continuing threat from here on out.   North Dakota already has some of these invasive species. The common carp, introduced in this country before people knew how much they could damage local fish populations, is probably the most familiar.   Carp have disrupted North Dakota fisheries for decades, but not every water has them, and the state’s laws are designed to greatly minimize the potential that we humans will spread them to those clean waters.   Carp aren’t the only threat, though. Over the years as fishing opportunities have expanded, so have the battles against new invaders across the nation and our state. A decade ago I was writing about salt cedar or tamarisk along the Missouri River System. Now it’s zebra mussels from the east and silver carp in the James River.   In a way, the ANS threat is like a summer storm on the horizon while you're enjoying time in or on the water. We know the storm is on the way, but it’s hard to say where the impact will be worst, and if it misses altogether, when will the next threat arise.   History has shown us the threat of aquatic nuisance species is worthy of concern. Thirty years ago, when zebra mussels were first discovered, did anyone understand how devastating the infestations would be in the Great Lakes region?   And in the past 10 years, these mussels have moved to other waters. Resources needed to slow or stop just zebra mussel expansion could have been better used elsewhere, but without a multi-state conscious effort to slow the spread of all ANS, they would be hurting many more waters than is currently the case.   That’s why rules and regulations are on the books.   Now that open-water fishing is upon us, it’s a good time to take a more thorough look at ANS so we can minimize or prevent their future appearance in North Dakota waters.   North Dakota ANS Regulations All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers, and fishing and hunting equipment such as fishing poles, bait buckets, lures, duck decoys, and waders before leaving a body of water. That means "vegetation free" when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body. Live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation may not be transported into North Dakota. All water must be drained from watercraft prior to entering the state.
    3399 Posted by Neil Hoefs
  • 11 Jun 2013
    Since October, 2012 a website has existed to help people sell their sporting goods. The idea originated when I grew frustrated trying to search through the broad category of "Sporting Goods" on Craigslist. Then add to the frustration of not being able to list guns or ammo on there...well, you can but it will soon be flagged for deletion.    So to help the general public with this issue, OutdoorFree was born. Easy to search categories makes an buyer find what they are looking for. Just type in the item and state in the search field and up come the listings.    The guns category is one of the most categories so there are sub categories for handguns, rifles, shotguns and assult rifles. Many other categories are loaded with gear so if you are into waterfowl hunting and need some decoys, begin your search there!    The site is completely free to use - there are no commissions on any sales made.    As the admin of the site, I am busy each day promoting your ads on all the social networks. Within each ad there are the Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Email and Pinterest icons for easily  sharing your ads. You can even help your own cause after creating your ad and share your ad on all your social media sites you belong too.    If you still want to post an ad in your local Craigslist region, just use the link of your ad and create your ad and say "See ad for additional Information" and save the time of uploading photos again, etc.    When your ad sell, go to your dashboard and Mark your ad SOLD. That places a nice Red Stamp right on your ad for all to see and brag a little about selling it.   Also, be sure to check out the blog posts that could be very helpful finding you items you are searching for. Don't see what you want, please email and request a new search to be added. Currently, many Ammo and Reloading ads are pulled from Craigslist as well as decoys, rifles, shotguns and other hunting and fishing items.    If you also have a business or product you are trying promote, OutdoorFree does Featured Articles. Just provide an article describing the product/business and include some photos and links and we'll get it posted and share within all our same social media venues. 
    2836 Posted by Neil Hoefs
  • 12 Jul 2012
    Pheasant Crowing Counts Up North Dakota’s spring pheasant crowing count survey revealed a 10 percent increase statewide compared to last year. All four pheasant districts showed an increase compared to last year. The number of crows heard in the southeast increased by 12 percent, northwest by 8 percent, northeast by 6 percent and southwest by 4 percent. Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department, said birds did not experience excessive mortality last winter. “Even with the nice winter last year, I anticipated fewer adult birds to be available this spring because poor production in spring of 2009-11 led to fewer young birds entering the fall population,” Kohn said. “However, I did expect to see higher crow count numbers in the southwest because good numbers of birds were observed last winter, but it didn’t pan out in the crow count numbers.” Even with a somewhat smaller breeding class of birds, Kohn said hens were in better shape this spring because of less winter stress. In addition, he said nesting habitat looked to be in pretty good condition in all areas of the state, and nesting and brooding weather this spring has been almost ideal. “I expect much better upland game production this summer,” Kohn added. “Pheasant hens are finding better quality nesting and brooding cover on the uplands this spring, and with the good weather, more hens were successful with first clutches, a positive sign of a good production year.” However, Kohn noted, the loss of CRP is going to decrease nesting and brooding cover in the future, and will negatively affect the pheasant population. Spring crowing count data is not always a good indicator of the fall population. It does not measure population density, but provides an index of the spring rooster population based on a trend of number of crows heard. Brood surveys, which begin in mid-July and are completed by September, are a better indicator of the summer’s pheasant production and provide insight into what to expect for a fall pheasant population. Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stopping at predetermined intervals, and counting the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a two-minute period during the stop. The number of pheasant crows heard is compared to previous years’ data, providing a trend summary.
    1830 Posted by Neil Hoefs
  • 21 May 2014
    North Dakota Outdoors North Dakota Game and Fish Department Doug Leier   When you’re talking fishing, it really doesn’t matter where you’re at.   Bait shop, coffee shop, boat landing or campfire, there’s plenty of stories, from forgetting to put the plug in, to a storm brewing up from out of nowhere, to the one that got away.   A lot of times, when the people involved in the conversations  know that I work for the North Dakota Game and fish Department, those “ones that got away” stories often lead to “Why doesn’t the Game and Fish Department…?”   Over the past few years, one of those “Why doesn’t Game and Fish …?” questions that comes up fairly frequently is something like “Wouldn’t fishing be better if we had a statewide minimum length limit for walleyes?”   Rather than try to answer that question myself, I’ll refer to Scott Gangl, the Game and Fish Department’s fisheries management section leader. Gangl authored an article in North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine last year, which covered that very subject.   When a walleye population has few young fish due to poor reproduction or stocking success, but those fish are growing well, a minimum length limit could help protect young fish to grow to a size that would provide more benefit to anglers. Of course, for any fishing regulation to be effective, angler harvest must have more of an effect on the population than other natural sources of mortality.   Lake Sakakawea’s walleye population today meets two of the criteria for a minimum length limit – low natural mortality and good growth. But Sakakawea’s walleyes in 2014 do not exhibit any signs of a population in need of a minimum length limit, such as low reproductive or stocking success, or high fishing mortality. In fact, natural and fishing mortality combined has been around 30 percent on Sakakawea in recent years, which is sustainable when compared to more heavily fished populations.   In addition, the combination of natural reproduction and good overall stocking success since 2010 has produced abundant young fish that are growing well and should reach a desirable size in another year or two.   The walleye population in the Garrison Reach of the Missouri River – from Garrison Dam downstream past Bismarck to the headwaters of Lake Oahe – and in Lake Oahe itself, is currently quite a bit different than Sakakawea’s. While small fish are abundant following strong natural reproduction in 2009 and 2011, a major decline in forage abundance after the 2011 flood has decreased their growth rate. A lack of food, teamed with a robust northern pike population, has also increased natural mortality. Given the current situation, anglers are encouraged to harvest some smaller walleye to prevent fish from dying. Thus, a minimum length limit is not advisable on this population.   At Devils Lake, rising water levels have led to strong natural reproduction in recent years. Currently, there is no shortage of small fish in the population, and growth rates have decreased substantially since 2008. Since overall mortality rates are not excessive, it would be better to allow harvest of small walleye at Devils Lake rather than restrict it with a minimum length limit.   While a few lakes and reservoirs in North Dakota do have special restrictions, those are unique. In the name of balancing angler opportunity with biological support, it makes more sense on both levels to provide anglers consistency for most waters across the state, rather than restrict anglers categorically based on social pressure.   Don’t forget, water conditions and fisheries populations have, can and will change. Which is why Game and Fish biologists conduct consistent research, evaluate scientific evidence and monitor waters, so future changes are never totally out of consideration. 
    1450 Posted by Neil Hoefs
Hunting Gear 1,903 views Jun 16, 2013
Best Pump Shotguns Under $500
by Curtis Niedermier   A pump shotgun is like your old hunting truck. It might not be fancy. It might not have a lot of frills. But when you turn the key, it always gets the job done. That’s why many hunters have chosen a pump shotgun as their first shotgun, and it’s why many have chosen one as their last shotgun. A pump is simple, reliable, holds more shells than a break-action and can be had at a reasonable price. On the subject of price, you could pay a lot of money for a pump with glossy walnut and gold inlay. But that’s sort of like putting chrome rims on your johnboat trailer. A pump, rather, should be used and abused. Yes, you get a lot for your money when you buy a pump shotgun. To give you a better idea of just how much you can get, we put together this list of the best pump shotguns for less than $500. Many of these guns can also be purchased used for hundreds less, but if you’re headed to the local gun shop, here’s what five Benjamins will get you.   Remington 870 Express and Express Super Magnum The Remington 870 is the greatest shotgun of all time. Period. And while higher-grade versions of the 870, such as the Wingmaster, are available, it’s the Express that continues to make the 870 the first and last choice among legions of outdoorsmen. Ultra-reliable, the 870 can be configured thousands of ways thanks to myriad aftermarket accessories and the gun’s simple breakdown design. You can buy one action, a couple barrels and an extra stock and change the gun from a clay buster to a turkey killer to a home-defense firearm. But at its price, why bother, when you can buy one for each task and still have cash left over for ammo. One of the key features of the 870 that make it so durable and reliable is the double action bar design. When you pump the gun, parallel steel bars connected to the forend slide back into the action to operate the mechanisms that eject the spent shell and load the next one. Dual bars prevent racking and promote smooth operation. Remington is currently manufacturing about 30 variations of the gun, starting at $411. The Super Magnum line, which includes shotguns that chamber 3 1/2–inch shells, starts at $462. - See more at: