Hunters experiencing the lasting impact of the drought in Grasslands

The Little Missouri Grasslands had a tough summer, and hunters are now experiencing the impact the drought and fires had on the area.

Brian Lemke came out to the Grasslands from Minnesota to bowhunt with his friend Charles.

” In Minnesota you’re usually sitting in a tree stand. Here you actually get to crawl up and down the butte. A spot -and – stock type of hunting. I like that way better than sitting in a tree stand,” said Lemke.

However, the two friends said they have had little success in finding prey to hunt due to the dry conditions.

“We were down by the Little Missouri River too, and I could walk across that. The lack of water was amazing to me,” said Lemke.

” The grass is all crunchy when you walk on it. Its burnt,” said Lemke’s friend, Charles Roy.

Jeb William’s of the North Dakota Department of Game and Fish said the drought conditions have made it hard for animals to survive in certain areas.

” Water sources have dried up around the state, which definitely makes it tougher for some critters. Obviously everything needs a certain amount of water to survive,” said Williams.

The Department of Game and Fish said it is still too early to tell the impact of the drought on the animal population for big game hunting, but for game birds, the evidence is already in.

Partridge, sharp-tailed grouse, pheasants are all showing a decline. Its for a variety of different reasons. Obviously we have had a tough winter stretch last year. A very dry stretch  into the summer here, as long as we’ve had for some time now,” said Williams.

Williams said the game bird population is down about 60% , and for now hunters like Lemke are making the best of the situation.

”  You just kinda come out here and make the best of it. It’s still way better than sitting at home and doing nothing,” said Lemke.

Officials with the North Dakota Department of Game and Fish said deer hunting licenses are up this year.

They have issued 54,000, which is 2,000 more than last year.

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