Dakota Uplander: Roadside Survey Eyes Future with Pilot Program

By Nick Simonson     Aside from the hundred or so doves perched on powerlines and tucked along the tall summer sweet clover hanging over the edges of the gravel road, there wasn’t much upland activity to talk about on this particular day of the summer roadside survey intended to count developing broods of pheasants…

Dakota Uplander: From Butterflies to Birds, Pollinator Plantings Benefit All

By Nick Simonson The combination of this winter’s rise in migrating monarch butterflies – around 300 million of them as reported in January by WWF Mexico in their annual estimates – and the desire for the establishment of diverse habitat on marginal lands which sustain the popular pollinator species along with other watchable wildlife and…

Dakota Uplander: How Long?

By Nick Simonson The tail on the rooster pheasant flopped in the wind like a CB antenna on a country boy’s pickup, and I knew as my lab brought the bird to hand it was old.  Inspecting the pointed ebony spurs, it was clear the pheasant was the first non-yearling to find its way into…

Dakota Uplander: A Perfect Morning

By Nick Simonson On my first pheasant hunt in 2003, setting foot on the east side of the open grass field down from my grandmother’s green farmhouse with my uncle and my cousin, I received a piece of advice about upland hunting that served not only as an extremely optimistic guidepost for a first time…

Dakota Uplander: The Early Late Season

By Nick Simonson The unpredictable nature of October in the upper Midwest means one year kids are sprinting down the street in their Halloween costumes, and the next those outfits wear costumes of their own, consisting of snow pants, boots and thick down jackets.  With all its unpredictability, the tenth month on the calendar keeps…

Dakota Uplander: Adjusting Choke & Shot Size

By Nick Simonson When it comes to upland hunting, a good shooter, competent and familiar with his or her shotgun, will get the bird every time regardless of shot size or choke used.  However, to increase success depending on species, season and situation, adjusting pellet size and choke tubes throughout the fall is an advanced…

Dakota Uplander: Continued Low Pheasant Numbers Highlight Need for Habitat

By Nick Simonson With a mild winter, spring with well-timed rains, and generally calm and temperate summer, the hope of a rebound in pheasant numbers for this fall buoyed many hunters and conservationists into September, despite the continued observation that habitat was severely lacking on the landscape of North Dakota.  Those hopes were dampened with…

Seven Preseason Tips for Upland Hunting

By Nick Simonson With the mourning dove opener about a month away, and grouse and partridge starting the weekend after that, it’s time to take stock of not only where bird populations are at across the state’s upland areas, but also to prepare for the seasons ahead. Execute on these activities now to find better…

Dakota Uplander: High Hopes for ND Pheasant Hatch

By Nick Simonson With spring crowing counts complete and numbers soon to be released by the North Dakota Game & Fish Department (NDG&F), optimism is growing for a successful pheasant hatch and brood-rearing season in the coming weeks and months throughout the state.  According to NDG&F Upland Game Biologist RJ Gross, this optimism is rooted…

Dakota Uplander: 2017 Season Wrap

By Nick Simonson Upland numbers and hunter success generally reflected what was predicted by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDG&F) in its summer surveys.  With the season wrapping up this weekend only the hardiest upland hunters will be in the field pursuing pheasants, grouse and partridge one last time, as wardens, officials and…

Dakota Uplander: The Upland Slam

By Nick Simonson Despite the headwinds on the prairie due to lower numbers of upland birds resulting from habitat loss and drought, this season marked a monumental first for me. By combining a September trip to the pine-and-popple forests of northeastern Minnesota, along with weekly adventures on the plains of the Peace Garden State, I…