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Video: Scouting in river and ag country ahead of the North Dakota archery deer opener

Eric Morken of Northland Outdoors scouts ahead of the Sept. 2 archery deer opener in North Dakota as he shows detailed maps and breaks down some of his favorite setups in this video.

A whitetail deer stands at attention during the spring green-up near Alexandria on May 3, 2022. Archery seasons for deer are just around the corner in many Midwestern states, including South Dakota (Sept. 1), North Dakota (Sept. 2) and Minnesota (Sept. 17).
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press
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The statewide archery deer hunting opener is Sept. 2 in North Dakota.

On a weekend in mid-August, I spent two days scouting. These scouting trips this time of year are always done for a couple of reasons.

First, I want to see what the crop rotation looks like and find areas of fresh sign that may indicate where I could find deer on opening weekend.

Second, flooding in the spring along rivers often brings in new dead timber that settles in low areas of tree cover that parallels the water. It can change how deer move along these rivers each season, so a scouting trip in July or August lets me know if I need to adjust any of my best rut locations as well.


Doing this kind of work now is an integral part to success when it comes to trying to fill a tag in a short three or four-day window that I have to hunt out here in November if I have not filled my tag yet. Both my 2020 and 2021 buck in North Dakota came on first-time, morning sits the first week in November where I accessed up the river well before light. Those spots were found and fine-tuned during summer scouting.

In this video below, I break down some of the best sign I found around standing corn the weekend of Aug. 13 and go into detail of a couple specific setups and why I feel confident in them heading into this fall.

This area of North Dakota is along big and small river systems next to agriculture. Below are maps of the setups I refer to in the video — the first one being on the small river system on a little patch of brushy timber east of the river just off an abandoned farm site.

North Dakota early season map.jpg
Tiny areas of cover like this small patch of brushy timber on the northwest portion of this river system are great areas to check, but easy to overlook. This area in particular was torn up with scrapes and rubs during November of 2021, and is showing great signs of deer movement again heading into the 2022 season.
Graphic create from onX Maps.

This second map depicts the setup at the end of the video along the bigger river system where both the 2020 and 2021 bucks were shot.

North Dakota Buck spot off bedding.jpg
This setup for a west-based wind has been the area that Eric Morken has filled his tag on bucks in 2020 and 2021. Note the brush and dead timber within the bedding cover right next to the river to the southeast that makes this area so appealing for mature bucks each year.
Graphic created through onX Maps

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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