In 1884 Teddy Roosevelt came to North Dakota to hunt buffalo. Later, he'd observe that he would not have become a U.S. president without his experience in North Dakota. The Rough Rider State instilled a toughness that Roosevelt became known for. He fell in love with these northern badlands and, after only 15 days in the state, he entered the cattle business by purchasing Chimney Butte Ranch. This ranch, located on the Little Missouri, fed Teddy's love for the state. "It was here that the romance of my life began," he said.
North Dakota's flat Great Plains cover 50% of the state, while its southwestern Badlands is a landscape of rugged beauty. With under 800,000 people, the state is one of the least densely populated U.S. states, and most sought after for its frontier and solitude. The Badlands and Teddy Roosevelt National Park are located in the state's Southwest Region. The areas buttes and domes have been evolved into colorful formations consisting of red, yellow and purple stone and clay.
Covered in plant life, Rocky Mountain juniper, rice grass, longleaf sage and many other plants native to far north prairies thrive here. Buffalo roam, eating grasses, reminding casual observers of legendary times in these open spaces and wild places.
With a long pointed tail, a vibrant green-colored head, red face and white collar around its neck, the pheasant is arguably the most beautiful game bird in North America. Startle the bird, and beating wings flourish. Shooting up above field grass, its colors contrast against the browns of fall and the white of winter. In North Dakota, just when your heart begins to race once you've scared up one bird, there's almost always more to follow. This is one of the premier destinations for pheasant and waterfowl hunting, drawing hunters from all over the country.
North Dakota's lakes and wetlands offer excellent duck hunting for numerous species, while the plains and river bottoms offer incredible whitetail and mule deer opportunities. Rock Lake near the Canadian border and Devils Lake situated in the state's center are two of the many destinations popular among duck hunters. As the largest natural body of water in the state, Devils Lake is also known as the "Perch Capital of the World." Waterfowl include snow geese, blue geese, teal, mallard and pintail.
The charming town of Devils Lake offers hunters and fishermen a place to warm their toes and enjoy a hot meal. Grilled or fried walleye is North Dakota's fish of choice. It's perfect when paired with a creamy dumpling potato soup called Knoephla, probably the food North Dakota would claim as their most precious.