Saving the tundra by controlling snow geese

Some of you may have seen today’s article about snow goose populations in North America in The Daily Republic. While light goose overpopulation certainly isn’t a new problem as a conservation has been in place since 1999 it is one that continues to destroy huge sections of the tundra in Northern Canada.

I want to hear from you on how you did hunting this year. I was out of town the prime week to hunt these devils, but what I heard from friends is hunting was very difficult this year. Because of the lack of snow line birds weren’t sticking in one place long enough to pattern. A friend of fine set out 2000 full bodies, complete with vortex machines and kites….they didn’t get one goose that day.

I am hoping some of your may have had better luck.

Hit up the comments sections below to tell me how you did hunting the sky carp this year.

Ice Conditions for Southeast S.D. Jan. 2

Below is an ice conditions report for some of the lakes in Southeast South Dakota sent out by GF&P. Conditions right now are extremely dangerous and ice is unstable at best. On Lake Mitchell a large pocket of open water can be seen in the middle.  If you think you must go on the ice please take proper precautions.

Southeast South Dakota Ice Reports 

Ice conditions are EXTREMELY UNSTABLE at this time throughout the Southeast Region of SD.  The mild weather has deteriorated ice to the point where extreme caution is advised to anyone who may want to venture onto the ice.  If you do go, the following suggestions are advised:

  • Go with a companion, walk in single file with one person testing the ice while the other person stays on shore, or on good ice, as a rescue person
  • Test the ice often
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Carry ice picks
  • Take a length of rope in case you need to pull your companion out
  • Carry a cell phone where it can stay dry, but easily accessed
  • Have a plan on how you will get out of the water if you happen to go through
  • Don’t go if the ice is unsafe


WilmarthLake- Very few fishermen on lake.  Four inches of ice reported last week. There is sheet water starting to be visible on top of ice, with spots opening up on lake. Conditions Very Poor.  


All lakes are 6-10 inches but very UNSTABLE.  Sheet water is starting to develop on ice along with places opening up on some lakes.  Still fisherman activity on ice.

Brookings area lakes had about five inches of ice on average, but there were areas of open water along shore on both Nature Park Ponds.  A couple of holes, drilled near the access point on Gustafson’s a few days prior, had caused the ice to deteriorate around them so that you would have gone through if you were not paying attention. 

LakeMenno- Around 4 inches of ice with fishing activity present

LakeThompson- Open water on south side of Oldham Grade.  Quite of bit of fishing activity reported on 2 mile, and up around Schaeffer’s Slough.  6-10 inches in places with some open water around the main lake.

Ice on all other lakes is UNSTABLE, with ice anywhere from 5-10 inches.  Some sheet water occurring on lakes.

MadisonandBrantLake- 4-7 inches of ice.  Some fishing occurring.

Herman – Due to aerators main lake is open and very dangerous around rest of lake.

Other sloughs/lakes – Thin ice throughout area.

LakeAlvin- No fishing activity reported.  Ice is 4 inches, but starting to turn blue and becoming very unsafe.

LakeLakota- Minimal fishing activity. Ice starting to turn blue and becoming unsafe.

LakeVermillion- Open spots on lake with some people still trying to fish. Thin ice around 4 inches.

IslandLake- Fisherman activity present with some thin spots on lake.

LakeCarthage- Shack went through ice—EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.  Still some fishing activity.

FamilyPark- Ice is unstable and honeycomb like. No ice fishing advised at this time.

Beaver – Lots of open water in the middle of lake.

TwinLakes- Some open water around the points 7-10 inches some fishing activity.

ScottsSlough- Ice conditions could be unstable.

There is no good ice throughoutSanbornCounty.  No ice fishing advised at this time.

Ice is UNSTABLE ON LAKES          

McCookLake- EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.  No ice fishing advised at this time.

Gray wolves to be delisted

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced Wednesday it will remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes Region.

AP Photo

Under the delisting management of the animals would return the the states by the end of January. States effected by the delisting would be Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and portions of adjoining states, including North Dakota. The population of gray wolves in Minnesota is around 3,000, the highest of the lower 48 states.  

Minnesota could start offering a hunting/trapping  season on the gray wolf as soon as Fall 2012.



Click to read Minnesota’s Management Plan.

To read Brad Dokken of the Grand Forks Herald story  on the subject click the link.

Weight in on your thoughts about the delisting?  Have you had any experiences with the gray wolf while in Minnesota, or any other state?

Personally, the echos of wolves howling over a small lake while camping alone in Itasca State Park in Northern Minnesota leave a memory of the wild I will not soon forget.

 To bring species back from near extinction in the lower 48 to the point where management is needed is a true testament to how well the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service can work. Kudos.

Firearms deer season in full swing

As most of you know, rifle season for eastern South Dakota deer opened up last weekend. My father, brother and I did some hunting around Iroquois and found some good success. My dad took a warrior of a buck that was missing one eye from fighting.  Strange thing is he shot it out of a layout blind ussally used to waterfowl hunt. Because of good scouting, and the use to trail cameras he knew where and when his best chance to harvest a buck would be and put his layout blind near that area. The blind concealed his position and scent perfectly.  The buck came within 30 yards of the blind. He popped out and shot it. Going through trail cam pictures we found the buck he shot, in a photo from two weeks earlier.  It still have both eyes at that point.

My brother also took a nice buck with heavy mass throughout his rack. The two kickers on the left side make it a 5 by 7.  Carefully glassing through binos, he found his buck bedded down on a fence line and throughout the course of a half hour was able to sneak close to get in position for a shot.


My brother’s nice whitetail

I on the other hand didn’t see to much. And wow was it cold, raging wind and sleet the first morning, and temperatures that hit negative 16 when I got out to hunt the second morning.  Could have shot a couple does, heck could have about tackled one while laying in a field Sunday. But so goes hunting, I will try to put some meat in the freezer again this weekend.

I want to see if you had success from the weekend. Submit your photos to Northland Outdoors Trophy Room ( and send me an email ( ) with your story on how you harvested your deer. You may see you photo in the print edition of The Daily Republic or on this blog.

Mountain lion quota increased

Mountain Lion quotas for the 2012 season have been increased to 70 lions or 50 females after GF&P commissioners voted on the issue last week. Wildlife division recommendations for the season were 60-40.

Last years quotas were 45 total and 30 females. With an extra 10 lions being able to be killed in Custer State Park.

For 2012 lions killed in Custer state park will go towards the quota.

One of the main factors for increasing the quota was the increased mt. lions population and it’s effect on Black Hills deer and elk herds in recent years. Last year biologists conducted a study that radio collared 30 elk calves in Custer State Park.  Fourteen of the 30 are known to have been killed by lions and another died from an undetermined predator. 

Population models by GFP in 2010 estimate there are 223 lions in the Black Hills.  A figure that is down 10 percent from the year before.  A GFP commissioner said 98 lions were known to have died either through hunting or other causes this year.

GFP officials want mountain lion population to be between 150-200 lions in the hills.

I want your thoughts on the increased quotas.  If GFP population models are correct the new quotas will call to eliminate over 30 percent of the population. Is that too much or too little? Let me know by commenting on the blog.


Duck Season Opens


Hopefuly I see this guy this weekend (Chris Huber/Republic)

One of my favorite times of the year begin tomorrow morning (Sept. 24). Duck season will open up for much of Eastern South Dakota.  Daily limit is six ducks and can be comprised of no more of following.

  • 5 Mallards, which may include no more than 2 hens
  • 3 Wood Ducks
  • 2 Scaup
  • 2 Redheads
  • 2 Pintail
  • 1 Canvasback

Mergansers: 5 (including no more than 2 hooded merganser)

Coots: 15

Shooting time is one half hour before sunrise to sunset. Good luck and have fun.  Send your photos from the weekend to to be published on the blog and possible publication in The Daily Republic.


Mourning Dove season

For those hunters wanting a new challenge – try out Mourning Doves.  The season opens tomorrow (September 1st) for this fast acrobatic birds.

Most hunting strategies include waiting at a small stock dam at sunrise or dusk and pass shoot as the birds come to drink or back to field to eat.  If you have access to a sunflower field these birds love to cluster here.

If you are really serious get yourself of dove decoys (  to clip on a fence or small branch and wait. 

Hunt these birds while you can because as soon as there is frost on the ground they will be gone.

Season Dates: Sept. 1, 2011 – Nov. 9, 2011
Open Area: Statewide
Daily Limit: 15
Possession Limit: 30

August Goose Management Take

Here is a link to my story about the August Goose Management Take.

There are a few points I really want to drive home about the season.

  • First off, when talked with the GF&P I found it astonishing that there are 227,000 resident Canada geese in South Dakota but they feel that number should be only 80 or 90k . With those numbers hunters could kill half the geese in South Dakota and we would still be over populated. South Dakota creates a near perfect habitat for geese with abundant water and food sources the population could grow to become even larger.  Kudos to SD GFP for taking this progressive and visionary approach lets hope it pays off.
  • If you aren’t going to eat all the geese you shoot please donate them. Luke and I did this after Saturday’s hunt and the whole process took 3 minutes.  At Mitchell Locker you drop them in a backroom, go upfront and fill out a one side piece of paper. We were the first ones to try the donation system at that locker but hopfully not the last.
  • If you have time and like to hunt get out there and help control the population. Access on farmers land is generally pretty easy to get during goose season because most farmers see them as an animal who eats their crops.

Did you go out goose hunting this weekend?  If so let me know how you did by commenting on the blog.


Fishing at Pike Haven on Lake Oahe

I spent this weekend on Lake Oahe at Pike Haven with my father in law, brother in law, and dog Stella, doing some fishing and having an all around good time. We saw great success catching our limit of walleye on Saturday in only a couple hours of fishing. Our boat was bottom bouncing with spinners and a nightcrawler but we saw other boats pulling plugs along shore as well.  

Me with a 21.5 incher (Photo by Brian Davidson)

Every fish we caught was fat and healthy and I am sure they will taste great when I make walleye tacos later tonight. It was also my new dog Stella’s first time on the boat.  She was a little antsy at first and wanted to jump in a few times but over all she did great sleeping in the fishing net on the run back to the boat ramp.

I was extremely impressed by the amount of fishing structure in this area.  The river is extremely wide here yet there are coves, coveys and shelves to be exploited no matter what kind of fish you are going after. It was great just to be out of the water and catching fish.

As for Pike Haven itself, it is a great little cabin/motel camping area with a fantastic restaurant.(try the prime rib you won’t be disapointed) Located about 20 miles west of Onida it is extremely secluded but nice to get away.  At the resort they have anything you will need for a fun weekend and no reason to drive anywhere else. From their location on the river you can easily get to the mouth of the Cheyenne River, Whitlock, or go south near the dam.  

trusty walleye dog Stella


Has anyone been fishing been fishing on the river lately?  How did you do?  Share you photos by emailing them to for possible publication in The Daily Republic or on this blog.

Mt. Lion travels 1,600 miles

Most of you have more than likely seen the article ( ) about the Mt. Lion with South Dakota origins making it to Conn. before being run over by a vehicle.

It seems to me these large felines are beginning to range farther east.

Whether it be cat killed near Colman, SD last year or the one killed near Marty a few months ago the prevalence of these large cat’s making their way to Eastern South Dakota and beyond is seemingly becoming more likely. (Who knows maybe they are tired of getting shot at over there in the hills.)

I want to know your experience with large cats?  Have you ever seen one in the wild? Tell me your experience and where you saw it.

I grew up in the Black Hills and spent an large amount of time hiking forests and hunting out there but I never saw one of these cats in the wild.  I have seen tons fresh tracks, kills, and scat to let me know they are very present however.