By Bob & Ginny Riege
Traditions are something that Harvey, North Dakota has to offer especially when it comes to hunting in the fall. Harvey, North Dakota has hunting rooted in the traditional family methods and it is carried on from generation to generation.
The click of a receiver on a prized shotgun will bring back memories of the cackle of the rooster pheasant or the feeder call of the mallard duck, but Harvey, North Dakota has more than that to offer. Harvey allows us to enjoy home cooked meals with pumpkin pie and dogs curled by the fire. Harvey, North Dakota reminds us of days gone by, but instills in us memories of putting on hunting boots, wool clothes and fleece lined slippers, and reflections of Mom and Dad.
Image if you would the following scenario; The pickup truck rolls along a gravel road early in the morning and crunches to a stop in a farmyard surrounded by corn, soybean fields and slough grass. The hunters crawl out of their vehicle and shake hands, greeting people with hugs and smiles. The wafting smell of fresh baked bread and coffee pours from the farmhouse with the help of the screen door. The newly arrived hunters quickly unpack some items and allow their stiff-legged dogs to run free in the yard. The talk that filters from the group mentions such things as posting, pushing and what other areas look like. Jim asks “What is the ditch like down at dead end?” and Kirk asks, “Where do you want me to go?” It is a “homecoming” the beginning of many days when friends and families reunite.
Tim and Melanie Nelson pose with their four Labs along with a harvested pheasant while hunting the Lonetree WMA in Harvey, ND. Photo submitted by Ginny Riege
Throughout the area around Harvey, North Dakota there are places that hold pheasants in huntible numbers. There are private lands with scattered potholes and sloughs or woody draws that provide good places to hunt. These prairie potholes provide an excellent sportsmen’s paradise with a plethora of ducks and geese.
Public lands, (Lonetree Wildlife Management Area 25,730 acres) whether game production areas or waterfowl production areas, which are managed by the state or federal government, are also excellent spots for hunters to look for a few roosters, sharp tailed grouse, or Hungarian partridge. In fact, a hunter would be hard pressed to hunt this entire WMA in a lifetime.
In North Dakota, the weather is usually mild until mid-November, so pheasants have no reason to seek the shelter of heavy cover. They can be found anywhere. A patch of grass around a dam, in the middle of a plowed field, or a few cedar trees on a grassy hillside are all it takes to hold roosters.
In the middle-season the birds are where most hunters would expect them. The thicker, deeper and more tangled the vegetation, the better the pheasants like it. Trees, because they break the wind are often essential ingredients of late season pheasant cover. In treeless areas, birds gather in cattail sloughs or brush draws in the vicinity of food. In this thick cover, a dog is a great help. You may wish to switch to a heavier shell, something like the Remington # 4 shot size to catch a few more roosters that have been educated by hunters before you.
Harvey, ND is also more than hunting or fishing, it is an experience in realty. Where else could you witness, in the clearing, where the farm once was, a 12 point buck waiting for the wind to still so he can go on feeding in the quiet and keep a watch out for any predators. As the day folds into late afternoon we all like to find a spot that we can watch the migrating flocks of waterfowl and delight in the beauty of the setting sun. Or the vivid image of a young white Lab dog staring into a little tuff of grass and watching two big rooster pheasants cackle and claw their way into the bright blue sky of November.
“God doesn’t count the hours man spends afield with friends,” or “The thing we build that lasts longest is memory.” All we ever need to do to hear the sounds of geese is to listen. All we ever need to do to see the point and hear the flush is to close our eyes.
All in all, Harvey, North Dakota is truly a paradise, not only for the pheasant hunter but also the waterfowler, deer hunter and turkey hunter. Let us not overlook another important area that North Dakota abounds with and that is fishing. The Upper Missouri river and Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe are some of the top walleye, northern, bass, and Chinook salmon waters here in the Midwest. So next time you think you might like to try another hunting or fishing area take a look at this paradise.
The pickup truck is filled with stiff-legged hunters and bone tired dogs. The “homecoming” is complete for another year, but the memories of the rise of the two young rooster pheasants on the edge of the field and the smell of roasting turkey dinner with soft homemade baked bread linger a long time with each hunter. Dakota Homecoming isn’t about footballs, or family reunions but about getting out of the office or school and enjoying what nature has to offer in all her splendor and beauty.