By Richard Hines
I am generally the last guy that does ratings for motels but after my friend, Vernon Lovejoy, and I had just wrapped up a week of duck and goose hunting in the northern section of North Dakota, we were on our way back to Denver and needed a place to stop for the night. Just another motel stopover along the highway… I thought.
All our gear was packed, and we were on our way home so when we pulled into the parking lot at the Bowman Lodge, it was nice to see bird dogs and other hunters. Although, we had been hunting waterfowl, Vernon’s Labrador Retriever Ollie enjoyed stretching his legs checking out all the calling cards in the field.
It was easy to figure out these were also upland game hunters. German Shorthair pointers, English Setters, and a wirehair all spelled upland hunters.
We discovered that the Bowman Lodge and Convention Center not only caters to hunters but also hunting dogs which are more than welcome and hunters who have had a successful day afield will find a cleaning station to take care of pheasants and other game that has been harvested.
In our younger days, we spent lots of nights in a wide range of tents, but today, and no doubt like many of you, most of our hunts are based out of motels or RV campers. I cannot count the number of motels I have stayed at over the years that always seem aggravated with the thought of having hunting dogs in crates in the trucks, much less in their rooms. As is the case with us, our hunting dogs are part of the family and after a good workout in the field, a warm room is welcome for hunter and dog alike.
We requested a pet friendly room. While walking down the hall we met another hunter and his setter, we asked about dogs at the lodge. He said, “This is dog central in here, the lodge keeps all of the hunters on the back side of the motel.”
Bowman, ND is also a great destination to take advantage of North Dakota’s P.L.O.T. program.
Although I hunt waterfowl, the bulk of my season is upland game. Pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridges are a sample of what Bowman County has to offer and all within a thirty-minute drive.
Several hunters I talked to that afternoon were cleaning ringneck pheasants and sharp-tails or “sharpies” they had harvested in nearby PLOTS. Despite the snow and a long day afield, several hunters from Washington, Colorado, and Texas had gathered in the parking lot to clean birds and feed dogs while exchanging stories of the day’s hunt. We jumped in with our experiences in the northern end of the state hunting waterfowl.
By the way, the acronym P.L.O.T. stands for “Private Land Open To Sportsman”. PLOTS is a great program for both residents and non-resident hunters alike and over the past 20-years, PLOTs has been one of the most popular public hunting access programs in the country. Game and Fish officials said, “This year about 800,000 acres will be available to hunters.”
But knowing where to key in on suitable habitat for your preferred species is the key. Vernon and I hunted in the north central portion of the state. The area is full of natural ponds and lakes referred to as potholes. The region, referred to as the Prairie Pothole region is a magnet for migrating waterfowl and if you are pursuing waterfowl, this should be your go to spot for duck and goose hunting.
However, for upland enthusiasts, centering your hunt around Bowman will give you access to thousands of acres of hunting lands and staying at the Bowman Lodge and Convention Center, which also has a restaurant, fitness center, indoor pool, hot tub, and a bar for an evening drink, is a great way to wrap up a day of chasing birds. In the morning, plan on a continental breakfast. While most hunters drive to the area, we did talk to one hunter who had flown in to meet up with friends. The nearest airport is Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, 69 miles from Bowman Lodge & Convention Center.
No matter if you are an upland or waterfowl hunter, North Dakota is worth checking out. If you are a traveling hunter, you already know that most difficult part of many hunting trips is finding a suitable place for hunters and dogs to sleep.
You might avoid some of the trial and error of finding lodging at least if you choose to hunt near Bowman, North Dakota.