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How to Properly Plan a North Dakota Pheasant Hunting Trip

Each year hunters from all around the world plan pheasant hunting trips in North Dakota.

For many it’s a rite of passage to hunt in one of the best places for pheasants in the entire world. The Dakotas have long held the distinction for pheasants and even its neighbor South Dakota gets much of the recognition there is still much that North Dakota has to offer.

While many hunters plan trips to North Dakota each year there is still much that people might miss out on when they come looking for an outdoor adventure. For those making a first trip to the state to pursue pheasants or even for those looking for something different it’s important to know how to properly plan for a trip to North Dakota.

Here is what you can do to prepare and plan a pheasant hunting trip that is sure to be memorable.

Time of Year for Pheasant Hunting

Pheasant hunting in North Dakota season starts in mid-October and runs through the first week of January. Most hunters should be able to find a good time to visit the state for their hunting adventure. There really is no time that isn’t good for pheasant hunting, but the best time to get into the state is earlier.

Weather is a big factor in the success of any hunting trip. Mid-October presents a great time for hunters to enter the state while the temperatures aren’t harshly cold or overly wet with snow and precipitation. There is always the chance of poor weather. This is North Dakota after all, but the earlier you arrive in the state for pheasant hunting season the better off you’ll be.

Duration of Hunting Trip

Most outfitted hunting trips will run for 3 days or 4 days. This seems to be the preferred duration of a typical pheasant hunting trip. This is true for guided pheasant hunting trips in many areas including areas throughout North Dakota. There is just something about a short weekend trip that makes the hunt enjoyable without getting to be too much of a drain for the visitors.

You can certainly plan to visit longer or even shorter for your trip. Many hunters like to spend some time in the state for up to 7 or even 9 days, but that’s pretty rare. You can also hunt for just one or two days. Maybe if you’re moving through the state as part of another trip this would be a good option. There are certainly plenty of birds and places to hunt in North Dakota if you’re just looking for some quick action.

If you’re looking for a guided hunt in North Dakota you might be restricted to a 3 or 4 day hunt. It’s pretty common and required among the outfitters to stick to this format. There are always opportunities, though, and if you find a place you like just call them up and ask for a little change in their regular routine.

Expected Costs

Your typical 3-day pheasant hunting trip in North Dakota will cost you at least $1,000. This is the basic hunt that will include access to good hunting ground. You’ll have involvement from the guide and maybe even access to their dogs. Guns and ammunition will probably be required by the hunter, but not in all cases. Lodging is part of this cost and a couple meals each day will likely be included as well. If you’re flying in you’ll probably have access to transportation if you want to get away from the ranch for a night in one of the small towns in the North Dakota area.

This baseline is a pretty standard package among pheasant outfitters in the North Dakota area. You’ll see some differences on both ends, but this is a good baseline for what to expect from a pretty decent outfitter that will make your stay enjoyable, your hunt successful and your time spent as comfortable as possible.

You can find great hunts on great properties for $300-$400. There are also outfitters that will charge you $2,000 for a 3-day hunt. Nothing is guaranteed in the outfitting game and that makes it difficult for the hunters and for the outfitters. Obviously every outfitter wants the hunters to have a great time while harvesting an entire limit, but it doesn’t always work out that way. The weather also determines much of the success on top of the area of the state you’re hunting.

If you’re looking to go on your own trip because you have a place to hunt for free then you can expect about $150 or so each night for a hotel. Depending on your level of comfort requirement this can go up or down, but that’s a pretty standard rate.

Also plan to spend about $20-30 per day for food. This number would be per person. Some people will choose to do some grocery shopping if they’re renting a place or even if they’re staying a hotel. It can get more expensive to eat out for two meals each day. Some hunters also bring along some packable food items to get them through those hunger strikes that come around noontime each day.

Plan on bringing some spending cash on your trip too. Most hunters like picking up souvenirs and there is always the issue of buying one or two rounds at the local watering hole. It’s all part of the experience.

Public, Private and Outfitter Options

For first time hunters in the state there are really about two good choices. If you want guaranteed success it’s best to go with an outfitter. There are plenty of great options and really the only way to figure out a person you can trust each year is to just get to trying them out until one fits your style.

Another option for a first time visit is to get in with a landowner. This is obviously difficult if you don’t have connections in the area, but it is possible. If you’re good with working the phones and talking with people you can probably find someone willing to let you in on their property. Even in today’s world of private hunting there are still opportunities to get access to private land.

Public land is a little more tricky. There are certainly areas available, but you’ll be pressed for luck with the competition from other hunters especially during the opening days of the season. The old saying that public land is a little subpar compared to private land is true too.

Group Hunts

Most outfitters require a commitment of a group of hunters. Some require two hunters while others may require three or four hunters in the group. It’s common, but not always the case. If you’re just looking to come alone you’ll still have plenty of options to find a good outfitter. A smaller outfitter might be a good option for you and they might even be able to work you in with a group that’s missing a person for whatever reason and it may even cut back on your costs. You’ll just need to call and tell them about your situation.

Time To Book

Hunting slots sell out fast for the best outfitters and the hotels book up quick too for the big weekends during pheasant season in North Dakota.

If you’re looking to get into a hunt in North Dakota it’s best to plan about six months in advance. Typically the earlier you book the better chance you’ll have at getting the best spot. If you know a year in advance that you’re ready to go then get in touch and start making plans. There are often discounts for earlier booked hunts too. If the outfitters know they have guaranteed cash coming in they’ll always take it with a little discount for the hunter or hunting group.

There is a rundown of the most important things you’ll need to know when planning your North Dakota hunting trip. Hopefully you find the perfect setup for you and best of luck out there in the field. There are plenty of pheasants in the state so you should have no problem having the time of your life.