Doug Leier, North Dakota Outdoors
Yes, I know it’s late May and for most people it’s the season for fishing, camping, boating and just soaking in the sights, sounds and warmth of spring. But for North Dakotans, it’s also the last week or so leading up to the 2014 deer license application deadline on June 4. So, while you’re enjoying the long overdue warmer weather, if you want to hunt deer with a rifle or muzzleloader this fall, don’t forget to get your application in by the deadline. As with last year, this applies to landowners who want an “any-legal-deer” gratis license as well.
You have made your list and are checking it twice – anticipation for fishing is growing faster than your lawn this spring. Current license — got it. Life jackets — check. Next stop, open-water fishing 2014. The only thing holding you back from a day on the water is Mother Nature, but that’s spring in North Dakota. The past 20-plus year wet cycle has produced marvelous fishing in North Dakota. From Devils Lake to Lake Sakakawea and hundreds of spots in between, great opportunities exist for fishing in rivers, streams and local impoundments.
A new law that requires a North Dakota driver’s license number or state-issued photo identification number for most people to buy a resident hunting or fishing license, went into effect April 1. Since this new law directly affects the deer license application process that will take place over the next month, it’s a good time to provide some background. House Bill 1161 passed unanimously in both the North Dakota House and Senate during the 2013 legislative session. Basically, this law requires anyone age 18 and older, when purchasing or applying for a resident hunting or fishing license, to
In terms of sheer hunter interest and popularity, the question of, “How did the deer and pheasants make it through the winter?” is asked more often than, “What’s the latest on the bighorn sheep population?” It’s not because people don’t care about bighorn sheep. On the contrary, you’ll find interest from hunters, and citizens young and old alike when it comes to the niche population of bighorn sheep North Dakota supports.
As air temperatures warm up during a North Dakota spring, fishing usually heats up as well. And heading into this spring, most anglers will agree that fishing in North Dakota the past couple of years is as good as it’s ever been.
In my early years with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, I was a district game warden. Prior to assuming responsibility for a district, new wardens learn different required skills from experienced wardens at stations around the state. My primary training warden was Kurt Aufforth, who at the time was stationed in Watford City, and my weeks with warden Aufforth coincided with the paddlefish snagging season. Paddlefish are such a unique resource for North Dakota, and for a first-timer, working the paddlefish season was a highlight from the early part of my career. A lot has changed s
Most of us would already assume that April is a busy month for fisheries biologists, as ice-out brings pike spawning, then walleye spawning and initiation of all the other management work that corresponds to open water. Perhaps not so well known is that April is also a busy month for big game biologists, as they complete the annual spring mule deer survey and finish crunching numbers to produce a draft deer hunting proclamation that goes to the governor’s office for final approval later in the month. This year, on top of the routine deer-season-setting process, State Game and Fish Department
Pheasants, ducks, geese, deer and other game animals get much of the wildlife press in North Dakota, but if publicity was based on numbers alone, the state’s “other” wildlife would capture the headlines more frequently. Biologists categorize more than 80 percent of North Dakota’s wildlife species as nongame, or those that are not hunted, fished or trapped. And yet, the few species for which hunting or fishing is allowed attract the lion’s share of concerns from people who enjoy the outdoors. This winter provides a perfect example.
I’ve always enjoyed the arrival of spring. I’ve lived in a number of towns and areas in just about every corner of North Dakota, and whether it’s Williston, Bottineau, Bismarck or West Fargo, each has its own special draw. While all of us in the Midwest are fortunate to have four distinct seasons, the arrival and departure of each season certainly varies depending on your location, even within each state.
In case you missed it at the time, when temperatures were sub-zero and the countryside was white, North Dakota’s spring light goose season opened Feb. 15 and continues through May 18. At the same time, while most people probably wouldn’t have anticipated the first sightings of light geese until later in March, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department received its first report on March 13.