The Oct. 4-5 snowstorm that covered southwestern North Dakota may present some challenging travel conditions for hunters when the 2013 pheasant season opens this Saturday.
State Game and Fish Department officials say that while most of the foot or more of snow that fell in some counties will likely be gone, the moisture left behind may still make travel difficult on some section line trails and other unimproved roads.
“We’ve been getting a lot of calls about how the storm affected the southwest, because it’s a popular area and part of our primary pheasant range,” said Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand. “Hunters should just be aware that there might be some impassable or very muddy roads to contend with, and they may want to call their local contacts to get an idea of how the storm may have affected their traditional hunting area.”
In addition, Steinwand said hunters should watch out for ranchers moving cattle or power company crews fixing lines, and make sure to not block roadways.
Many hunters have also inquired to Game and Fish about pheasant mortality from the storm, where the most snow fell south of Interstate 94, and east of U.S. Highway 85 and west of the Missouri River. Generally, more snow fell closer to the South Dakota border.
Game and Fish has had a few reports from landowners, but Steinwand said it’s still too early to assess whether there was any significant pheasant mortality.
“The pheasant opener is a longstanding tradition in North Dakota and many hunters make their plans months in advance,” Steinwand said. “We want hunters to enjoy the weekend, but we also want them to know this was an unprecedented snowstorm in some areas, and there is more rain in the forecast before the weekend, so we urge extra care in areas where road and field conditions are wet.”