Kysar Farms in North Dakota disappointed us on this year's pheasant hunt

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 I’m sitting at the kitchen table in the lodge at Kysar Farms, gazing out a window to enjoy a stunning sunset over the distant mountain. There’s a lot to like about North Dakota.

But I’m sorry to report that, as presently managed, Kysar Farms isn’t one of them. This outfitter disappointed us. And we did let them know.

We did like the lodge building on the grounds of the farmhouse and barns. It is very nice, sleeps a dozen in one large room, and has a great kitchen with plenty of cooking implements. The lodge is decorated with beautiful art, from the carpets to the walls. One bathroom for 7 guys was a bit difficult, but we made it work.

While the lodge didn’t have WIFI, disappointing me, I could go over to the farmhouse and sit on the porch and get it, so I was able to keep up with messages and post stories of our hunt and trip.

North Dakota - hot, hot, and hotter

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This is not North Dakota weather. By noon, the temperature was 81 degrees and we were hunting in tee shirts. I have hunted in snow out here and brought lots of warm clothes this trip. Those come in handy, because the temperature yesterday morning when we started hunting at daylight was 37 degrees. But it got hot quickly, and by early afternoon the temperature was 76 degrees.

It was cool this morning, 38 degrees, but as soon as the sun rose, it heated up quickly. Mid-way through our first hunt this morning, I was sweating in my warm clothes and heavy coat.

We didn’t see lots of birds today – even the pheasants seemed to be laying low in the heat.

I shot very poorly, got just one bird in the morning, but then connected on my most difficult shot of the day in late afternoon. I immediately went from despondent, discouraged, hot, and tired, to elated.

North Dakota – pheasants, pheasants, and more pheasants

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Pheasants are not native to North Dakota, but they’ve been in residence for decades and bring lots of enthusiastic hunters to the state every fall, including me. This is my fifth trip and I love everything about it.

The plains are beautiful, the people are friendly, the state economy is booming, the lodge we’ve rented is really nice, the pheasant population is up, and my six hunting buddies are a great bunch: Jim and Jenness Robbins, Pete Williams, and Steve and Donnie Lucas are all Mainers, and Frank Sweeney is the outlier from Massachusetts. But I’ve put Frank through his paces and he’s now qualified as a real Mainer.

North Dakota takes hunting seriously

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 Awaiting our first afternoon of pheasant hunting in Regent, North Dakota, I am reading the state’s Conservation Guide 2014, fascinated by the strong support for hunting displayed statewide, and most especially by the state and federal government. This is especially impressive given that the state has only about half the population of Maine.

Before I get to that, let me report that it’s Sunday afternoon, and we’ll be out hunting from 4 pm to 6 pm. Yes, they can hunt on Sundays here!

Second, today’s Farm Forum newspaper reported on ballot measures of interest to farmers and others, and included news about Maine’s bear referendum and the $8 million bond issue to create an animal and plant disease and insect control facility at the University of Maine. Yes, the world is watching us on November 4.

Great wine, great beer, great food: Special dinners at Winterport Winery have it all!

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                It was a very special night for the owners, staff, friends, and customers of the Winterport Winery and Penobscot Bay Brewery. We didn’t know that, when we confirmed for one of their popular monthly wine and beer dinners, but we were very happy to participate in the celebration.

                Owners Michael and Joan Anderson had just received the 2014 Maine Food Producer of the Year award from the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association, the first winery and brewery to win that prestigious recognition. And they were, along with the entire staff – very excited.

The truth about bear hunting in other states

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Thanks to Bob Duchesne, who’s Saturday morning “Wild Maine” 92.9 radio shows on the bear referendum featured outstanding interviews with wildlife biologists Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, we now know the truth. Those are the three states that banned hunting bears with hounds and bait. Here is an excellent summary of what happened as a result, in a summary Bob sent to me a short time ago.

Common threads from all three biologists:

All three states were forced to vastly expand hunting opportunities. All three states allow Sunday hunting (and always did). Oregon and Washington start hunting August 1st, which would be the middle of Maine’s busiest tourist season. Oregon was also forced to add a spring season that starts in early to mid-April and runs through May.

Those who recreate on someone else’s land should read this study.

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In response to my series columns about landowner relations, published here earlier this year, I got quite a few inquiries about the specifics of Maine’s private land access laws and traditions.

I heard a fascinating presentation by University of Maine Professor James Acheson on this topic at the annual meeting of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine in 2006, and subsequently wrote about Acheson’s study of public access to privately owned land, published in the Maine Policy Review in 2006.

Although the study is 7 years old, it is still pertinent and should be read by all who enjoy recreation on privately owned land.

You can access Acheson’s study here.

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