In July most people are still associating the outdoors with fishing, boating or camping, but it’s also a time when talk of hunting starts working its way into conversations.
And that seems only logical, considering the early Canada goose season, the first major 2016 “fall” hunting season, opens on Aug. 15 with, officially speaking, still a month of summer left to go.
We won’t know for another month or more what hunters can expect for fall upland game populations relative to last year, but North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists recently announced spring survey information for pheasants and sharp-tailed grouse, which suggests there’s not significant changes from 2015 heading in the nesting season.
North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index was up slightly from last year, while sharp-tailed grouse numbers were down slightly, according to Aaron Robinson, Game and Fish upland game management supervisor.
The number of pheasant roosters heard on the spring crowing count survey was up just about two percent statewide, Robinson said, adding that in the southeast numbers were down from last year, while “the other regions from west to central were up slightly, but not enough to say there’s a big increase from last year.”
Sharp-tailed grouse counts on spring dancing grounds or leks were down about 6 percent statewide from last year.
“We were kind of expecting that,” Robinson said. “We had some dry weather last year and production wasn’t as good.”
While the spring counts provide a good indicator of the number of breeding birds in the two populations, Robinson says it’s primarily early summer weather that influences hunting success in the fall.
“You have to have the right conditions to produce a good hatch,” he said. “You don’t want really wet, cold years, and you don’t want dry years. Dry years don’t produce those insects that chicks need to survive those first 10 days.”
Game and Fish biologists are just getting started with their summer upland game brood counts, and Robinson said that will lead to more precise fall population predictions.
“That’s when we really start to understand what our production was for the year.”
Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stopping at predetermined intervals, and counting the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a two-minute period during the stop.
Biologists count male sharptails on their dancing grounds in 25 monitoring blocks throughout the state, and numbers within each block are compared from year to year.
Game Warden Exam Scheduled
One other quick note, the Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test is at 10 a.m., Aug. 5, at the department’s main office in Bismarck.
Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree at time of hire (tentative hire date is Oct. 1), have a valid driver’s license and a current North Dakota peace officer license, or eligibility to receive a peace officer license.
Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills in communications and writing, and must not have a record of any felony convictions.
Applicants must register to take the exam no later than Aug. 1 by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.