A Not So Down Year in North Dakota

The forecast was that this hunt would suck. Because of a drought and tough winter and summer, the bird counts were down by 60%. We discovered this when the outfitter, Cannonball Company, called to ask if we wanted to skip the year and try again in 2018! I must say the folks at Cannonball are first rate. They made sure we knew what kind of hunt to expect and were ready to accommodate if we chose to do something else. Half of our usual hunting party did just that and spent the weekend on the couch at home. Before the hunt, the weather outlook predicted highs in the mid-30s with high winds. There was ample reason to skip this hunt!

Despite the dismal predictions, the 5 hunters who chose to make the hunt were treated to one of our best hunts yet. The hunting was certainly more challenging but, out of a possible 45 bird limit, the group harvested 41 birds. We could have nailed the other four had we wanted to. 🙂  The weather on day one was cold and windy. The other two days the wind died down and we had near perfect sunny days in the 40s and 50s. Having to work for our birds kept us in the field longer than usual and we all enjoyed that, especially the dogs. You never know what is going to happen on a hunt and this year persistence and a bit of blind faith paid us handsome dividends.

Our guide, Curt. One of the main reasons why we have such great hunts in North Dakota.

Mitzi, super bird dog!

Tex was in fine form during the hunt. His knees held up well. In his year off, he did forget how to hunt close. I am sure he will get better with more time in the field.

Buck, the pointing lab. This pup is a bird finding machine!

A beautiful day in beautiful country.

There were fewer birds but the ones we did find were more mature. This is a 24″ tail.

Peder doubled on a pair of Huns! It is always a treat when you run into these fast flying birds.

A pair of roosters.

Blocking on the fringe.

There is always lots of barbed wire were we hunt birds. Unfortunately, this year we learned how to use the skin stapler to close up some nasty gouges on the dogs.

Photogenic Oak.

Spooning in the field!

Buck retrieves a rooster.

Waiting for the order to hunt. Strategy is essential to bagging smart birds in a challenging year.

North Dakota ISIS!

Our cheering section.

The 5 intrepid hunters with questionable judgement.

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8 Comments

Filed under Bird Hunts

8 responses to “A Not So Down Year in North Dakota

  1. JJ

    We kind of had the same experience this year in SD, hopefully the numbers will come back! Great time great friends!

  2. Hi JJ, We are praying for good bird reproducing weather! Thanks for visiting.

  3. Terry Potter

    Great pics. They really tell the story.

  4. Grant Cannatella

    Thanks for the pics Ben! Hope to make this trip with you guys again in the future.
    Happy Hunting!! Grant

  5. Mark Osborn

    Ben – Great photos & recap!
    I’m happy it worked out despite dire predictions.
    Good karma for the brave & hearty five!

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