Jack Zaleski column: The best pheasant hunting in any state
After a single afternoon in the cornfields south of Jamestown, N.D., six visiting hunters concluded there is no better pheasant hunting anywhere in the country. They shot their daily limit in about three hours (18 birds) and missed as many of the...
After a single afternoon in the cornfields south of Jamestown, N.D., six visiting hunters concluded there is no better pheasant hunting anywhere in the country. They shot their daily limit in about three hours (18 birds) and missed as many of the colorful, fast-flying gamebirds.
Hunting with Dakota Prairie Outfitters out of Nortonville, N.D., the visitors walked the corn rows in winds gusting to 30 mph and temperatures in the 40s. The birds held close to the ground, exploding into flight only when flushed from the cover of the corn.
Confirming surveys done by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, pheasant populations were up. The birds not only were plentiful, but also large and healthy. The hunters from Florida and New Hampshire were amazed by the good quality of the hunting.
"This is incredible," said Tom Biloudeau of Hampton, N.H., who earlier in the day had knocked down a 12-pound Canadian goose. The hunting package features waterfowl hunting in the morning and upland birds in the afternoon.
The visitors were impressed not only with the hunting, but also with their hosts, a farm family that runs the outfitting service. Casual, family-style meals included reliving the day's hunting and learning about North Dakota's geography, history and climate.
Howard Hartman of Bradenton, Fla., had not been in such cold conditions for more than 30 years, but said he didn't even feel the cold during the excitement of the pheasant hunt. He and his wife, Norma, began their trip north with an excursion to South Dakota's Black Hills and a visit with relatives in Fargo.
The impact of the visitors on North Dakota is significant. All flew into Fargo, adding to the local passenger census at Hector Airport. All purchased nonresident hunting licenses -- revenue for game and fish programs. All made several trips to sporting goods stores, gas stations and restaurants, where they spent a lot of money. And, of course, they paid fees to the outfitter, and those dollars will circulate in the rural communities where the farm family/outfitter lives.
Following the successful hunt south of Jamestown, four of the six visitors went north to Maxbass, N.D., for a chance to bag snow geese. More about that adventure in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the hunters, most of whom were first-time visitors to the state, were converted into ambassadors for North Dakota. They intend to return, not only to hunt, but possibly to fish and see the state's other attractions.
Building that reservoir of goodwill through visiting hunters is a very good deal for North Dakota.
Zaleski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 241-5521.