Welcome to the 2014 Conservation Private Land Open To Sportsmen Guide. We are again pleased to offer this booklet that allows readers to locate lands open to public hunting across the great state of North Dakota.
One of the many goals in our PLOTS program is to provide access for hunters, with habitat of the highest quality to attract and hold those animals we love to hunt. Hunting is part of North Dakota’s heritage and we want to sustain that history and allow the greatest opportunities we possibly can.
As most know, Conservation Reserve Program acres in the state have declined substantially in the last several years, resulting in less and less grassland habitat. Understanding this loss, it makes it even more important to maintain quality PLOTS acres across the state.
North Dakota had a fairly cold winter across much of the state, but for most areas we didn’t receive substantial snowfall, which seems to have been a blessing for most wildlife.
We received adequate rainfall in most areas in spring and summer, so grasslands across North Dakota appear to be in good condition, which is another positive for the hunting seasons. Spring and early summer is a critical time for upland birds and there were some anxious moments when strong thunderstorms and hail hit parts of the state, but anecdotal reports seem to suggest it wasn’t as bad as we thought. However, as the PLOTS guide is assembled for printing in early August, before our upland game brood surveys are completed, it’s too early to predict for sure what the fall seasons will offer.
Providing quality PLOTS acres is an important aspect of the program, but equally important is working with landowners who enter into those agreements. We need to offer flexible programs and ensure they fit within their operation and livelihood. At the same time, we need to make sure the acres enrolled provide quality habitat that will produce and retain game animals so optimum opportunity exists for hunters.
The PLOTS program remains popular and, based on surveys, some hunters say they wouldn’t even hunt if it weren’t for PLOTS or other readily available lands. It’s apparent that most people responding to the surveys are satisfied with how the program is administered, with close to a 90 percent approval rating of the program.
Knowing that, we still constantly strive to provide a better product and more of it. Even so, we also can’t forget about opportunities available on other private lands. The vast majority of North Dakota is privately owned and that means most wildlife is on private lands that may not be in the PLOTS program. I encourage everyone to get out and meet those people in rural North Dakota who own and labor over those acres.
I continue to emphasize how important it is to respect the land on which you hunt and the game you pursue. Also respect fellow hunters in the same area. The individuals who have entered into PLOTS agreements with the Game and Fish Department are doing so willingly, but also expect you to treat the land with respect.
I anticipate another great fall of hunting in North Dakota, but to me a big part of the hunt is the experience and not necessarily the harvest. We may not be where we want to be with game populations or PLOTS acreage, but we’re working on both fronts to achieve those goals. Get out and enjoy what North Dakota’s outdoors have to offer and you’ll be rewarded for your effort.