Doug Leier, North Dakota Outdoors
As a life-long resident of North Dakota, I take pride in knowing that hunters contribute more to our outdoor heritage than just license dollars. Something as simple as voluntarily reporting violations goes a long way to assist game wardens in doing their jobs, and many poachers are caught each year because hunters got involved. Hunters also help with the entire wildlife population management process by participating in various surveys. I learned this well before my formal college and work experience, as it was routine for my dad and his grouse hunting companions in the 1980s to take part in
Like a lot of people my age and older, my early impression of a wildlife professional was the Marlon Perkins/Jim Fowler “Wild Kingdom” type that millions of people got to see them working directly with wild animals in exotic places. At age 18, in my first summer of field work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I quickly learned that what I had seen on TV was not reality.
The much anticipated annual North Dakota Private Land Open To Sportsmen Guide is now available. The printed version of the PLOTS Guide likely won’t hit the usual outlets — such as license vendors, county auditor offices and Game and Fish Department offices — until the first week of September, but the online version already has generated a flurry of activity. Just in the first day after the online version was posted, more than 1,000 people logged on to the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov specifically to check whether their favorite PLOTS tract was still there, or if any new tracts were sig
The well-documented and discussed wet cycle and expansion of fisheries is not new to most anglers or even people who don’t fish.
I cross reference many outdoor signature dates with kids and sports.
North Dakota won’t have a sage grouse hunting season in 2014. That news probably doesn’t surprise anyone who pays attention to the state’s outdoor world. Sage grouse are North Dakota’s largest native upland game bird, found only in the extreme southwestern part of the state, primarily in Bowman and Slope counties. There hasn’t been a season for several years, and realistically, there’s not much optimism among state wildlife managers that we’ll see a season any time soon. The sage grouse survey numbers from 2014 didn’t do anything to raise hopes.
I have always found it interesting how some skills in life stay with us no matter how many years of rust we allow to accumulate. Things like riding a bike or driving a manual transmission vehicle, or perhaps water skiing, tying a hook on a line or filleting a fish, are once-used physical or mental practices that come back to us when needed. When I began my work as a game warden, backing up a boat on a trailer wasn’t something that settled in my comfort zone.
Over the years I’ve detailed my successes and failures of getting my kids “hooked on fishing.” Call me a bit disconnected, but I don’t see how kids cannot enjoy fishing. And I’ve never heard my kids say they don’t want to go fishing. It’s actually the complete opposite, as no matter the day or weather, they’d prefer fishing to about anything else. Or course, along the way we’ve had mishaps, snags, wet feet, cold fingers and soggy snacks, but the memories continue to grow each year.
In 1988 I was a sophomore in high school, I was more than happy to catch a few perch, walleye or northern pike, and sometimes even bullheads. It seems I never had a problem finding the yellow-bellied, numerous-yet-undesirable fish, even when the number of fishing waters was half what it is now. At that age I really didn’t quite understand the drought that was occurring in North Dakota, and the low water conditions that would linger for several years to follow.
I will be the first to admit that following a long and cold winter and a short spring counted in days or weeks and not months, we almost feel like we’re trying to play catch-up before we miss out on the summertime outdoors fun. From fishing, boating and swimming, to camping, hiking and birding, there are a variety of outdoors options.