Tuesday, October 7, 2014

North Dakota, Land of Ducks and Missles

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One thing North Dakota is well known for is their waterfowl hunting. Hundreds of thousands of potholes and endless acres of nesting areas make for outstanding bird populations. Barb and I arrived at our friends Dan and Jeannie’s on the 29th. They own/operate Prairie Smoke Ranch outside of McClusky North Dakota a waterfowl/upland bird lodge. We had not seen them in almost a year and it was good to catch up. Waterfowl season opens the following weekend so they were busy getting the ranch ready for the first group of hunters, cleaning the bunkhouses, setting out decoys and fixing the ducks blinds. We had one interesting sighting while staying at their place, while out for a walk we saw something large and dark in one of the pastures. A cow? A large bull? That is what one would expect to see in a pasture. Well, it was a bull all right, a bull moose! One thing North Dakota is not known for is their moose, but here was one 100 yards from us! A rare sighting for sure!

 It rained part of the day each day we were there and one thing you learn quickly up here is that you cannot travel the gravel roads in this area during or just after rain. The mud is so slick up here that even 4 wheel drive vehicles have a hard time staying on the roads. With a mile long driveway and over 10 miles of gravel to the nearest blacktop road, we had to wait out the rain and give the roads time to dry before we headed to our next destination.
Dan and Jeannie's Ranch
Our next destination was about an hour away in Douglas and happens to be a nephew of Dan’s and the son of my good friend Bob who we had supper with the week before. So, how does a young man born and raised in the suburbs of the Twin Cities end up on a farm in North Dakota? Although Chris has always been an outdoors person, living and working on a farm was probably the last place he thought he would end up when he was growing up. That is until he went to the University of North Dakota and met the woman of his dreams, Holly, a farmer’s daughter from Douglas North Dakota! They married in 2013, built a house on the family farm and just had their first child, Gavin, in September. He is a cute little guy with a great smile! Chris' story is so unusual AGWEEK even did a story on it!
Holly’s parents Bob and Deanne farm several thousand acres throughout the county. Chris took to farming like a duck to water (get it?) and could not be happier. There is always plenty to do and they even put us to work when we were not hunting. One of the funniest things we got to do was till a few hundred acres with the quad track. Even with huge equipment it take hours and hours to till the fields. It was interesting work and I can see why Chris loves it.

Getting ready to till!
Something very interesting/scary happened to us on our way back from the field the other day. After Barb picked me up from the field and were heading down the gravel road to the blacktop, a helicopter started circling us very low. Once we got to the blacktop a hummer, with a machine gun on top drove up and asked us to pull over for a convoy that was coming. As the helicopter hovered over us a convoy of similar hummers surrounding a semi-truck flew by us. I was able to snap a few pictures from inside the truck as they went by.  There are a number of missile sites in the area and they were obviously moving one of them. I told Barb she should have gotten out and acted like a crazy person to see what would have happened! Once they were by us the helicopter turned and zoomed ahead of the convoy looking for the next person they can scare the crap out of!

Hovering, waiting for the convoy to pass us
The lead vehicles
Here it comes!
So much going on and I have not even talked about the main reason we came out….duck hunting! The non-resident waterfowl opener was on October 4th.  Cold, wet and windy conditions make for some great duck hunting. Opening morning we woke up to frost and temps in the low 20's, the temps have been running 20 degrees lower than normal. We got out on both the 4th and 5th and had two days of outstanding hunting. We saw thousands of ducks getting our limits both days. We will get out a few more times this week, but in the meantime we are having some tasty duck dinners!


Ready for the birds to come in!
A nice flock over the water

The results of a good days hunt


  1. Wow! I would have been afraid to take pictures for fear they might turn around and come back after me.

    We could sure use some of that cooler weather here in St George Utah. Steve's softball games are sometimes in the middle of the day. Very hot. I guess it's a way of preparing us for Florida weather since we'll be headed that way on Sunday. Safe travels!

    1. We were wondering the same thing when we took the pictures! From here we are headed to Medora, ND eventually landing in Salt Lake for the holidays. How long are you going to be in Florida?

  2. Imagine if there’s a hovering helicopter above you while you drive, followed by hummers loaded with machine guns. Now that’s like a Jason Bourne movie waiting to happen! Pretty scary, huh? I wonder what they were up to. At least you were able to take a photo. Anyway, thanks for sharing! Here’s to more years of adventure on the road!

    Liza Pilon @ Prairie City RV