The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates fair wetland conditions statewide for duck hunting. However, hunters will need to plan ahead because most areas of the state are substantially drier than last year.
Wetland counts were down by about one-half in the northern tier of the state, and about two-thirds in the southern tier. However, waterfowl biologist Mike Szymanski said perception is everything. “Last year’s moisture level was one for the record books,” Szymanski said. “We are left with numbers of wetlands slightly lower than in 2005 and 2009, despite very dry conditions.”
Hunters may find shallow wetlands they hunted last year to be dry. However, deeper semi-permanent wetlands will likely be holding water. “Most semi-permanent wetlands will also have a mud-margin between cover and the water’s edge,” Szymanski said. “That margin will vary a lot depending on the shape of the wetland, but should not be a major hindrance to hunters in most cases.”
The wetland survey is conducted in mid-September just prior to the waterfowl hunting season, to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect.
Opening day for North Dakota residents was Sept. 22 for ducks, coots, mergansers and geese. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Sept. 29.