Oct. 3-4 storm likely affected pheasants, backroad travel in southwest N.D.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department said it’s too early to assess the impact of last weekend’s snowstorm on pheasants in southwest North Dakota, but some of the reports I’m hearing are pretty dire.

Jim Fuglie of Bismarck, an avid pheasant hunter who’s active in conservation circles, emailed this morning and said he talked to a farmer where he usually hunts. The landowner is “usually the champion of understatement,” Fuglie wrote, but said the pheasants were “pretty much all gone” at his farm.

The worst reports are coming from south of state Highway 21, Fuglie said.

“I’m hearing bad reports from Mott, Regent, Hettinger, Lemmon, etc.,” Fuglie wrote. “Nobody’s talking about it, but they’ll be talking about it next week.”

In a news release the Game and Fish Department issued this morning, Director Terry Steinwand said the department has been getting lots of calls about the storm’s impact on the southwest.

Most of the snow, which exceeded a foot in some counties, should be gone by Saturday’s pheasant opener but hunters should be aware that the moisture could present some challenges in getting around on section line trails or other unimproved roads.

According to the news release, the worst of the snow fell south of Interstate 94 and east of U.S. Highway 85 and west of the Missouri River, with the heaviest amounts reported closer to the South Dakota border.

Game and Fish has had few reports from landowners, Steinwand said.

“The pheasant opener is a longstanding tradition in North Dakota and many hunters make their plans months in advance,” he said in a statement. “We want hunters to enjoy the weekend, but we also want them to know this was an unprecedented snowstorm in some areas, and there is more rain in the forecast before the weekend, so we urge extra care in areas where road and field conditions are wet.”

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