North Dakota outlawed bird dogs in 1919!

The history of using dogs for hunting game birds in the state of North Dakota is peculiar, to say the least.  It would be funny, too, except that it actually happened. Less than thirty years earlier, Indian wars were being fought and forty years earlier the American Bison was still being market hunted. How could bird dogs be of that much importance?

In 1919, North Dakota passed a law that outlawed the use of dogs for hunting upland game birds. Dogs were allowed for retrieving waterfowl only. “No bird dogs allowed to run loose or with owners between April 1 and November 1.”

Shortly after those restrictions, the North Dakota Game and Fish Board of Control, in its 1919-1920 Biennial Report, bragged about the success of the law:  “It is conceded by everybody that the grouse and prairie chickens were never more plentiful than they were the past two seasons…the bill cutting out the use of dogs was one of the most far-sighted pieces of legislation ever passed for the conservation of game and should never be repealed…”

Some members of the Board of Control believed fewer birds were lost or crippled by using dogs to retrieve them.  In 1933, after much bantering about what types of dogs, the law was changed again to only allow spaniels or retrievers for retrieving. “Use of Pointers, Setters and Droppers is unlawful.”

Later in 1943, a new law was passed that is still in effect today:  “All types of dogs were legal to hunt upland game in season.”

Finally, common sense prevailed.



Quotes from Feathers from the Prairie by Morris D. Johnson and Joseph Knue.

Talking Dog For Sale

A guy is driving around the back woods of Minnesota and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house:

Talking Dog For Sale

He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking pointer sitting there. “You talk?” he asks. “Yep,” the Pointer replies. After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says, “So,what’s your story?”

The Pointer looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I called the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most
valuable spies for eight years running. But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger, so I decided to settle down….”

“I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.” The Pointer sighs and adds, “Then I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired…”

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. “Ten dollars,” the guy says. “Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?” “Because he’s a liar! He never did any of that stuff!”

How to improve your ruffed grouse shooting.

Once upon a time, in northern Wisconsin, there lived an old grouse hunter. He was known far and wide for the quantities of ruffed grouse he bagged. Rumor had it that he would go into the woods with five shotgun shells and usually return with five grouse.

This reputation spread to a small town in rural Minnesota where a young man, just learning to hunt ruffed grouse, was having a very difficult time. He could do well enough on open country pheasants and prairie grouse but ruffed grouse, with their craftiness and thunderous flight, was still beyond his abilities.

The young man heard of this legendary grouse hunter and was eager to learn the secrets of someone so successful and so traveled to northern Wisconsin. Upon meeting the grouse hunter, the young man said, “I am here to learn your secret of shooting ruffed grouse as they fly through the dense forest.”

The old grouse hunter looked at him with a quizzical expression and said, “Grouse can fly?”


Northwoods Birds Dogs    53370 Duxbury Road, Sandstone, Minnesota 55072
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