Most work or recreation plans follow the principle that you reap what you sow. The more planning and preparation, the better the odds are for success. Or in other words, the time to start preparing for deer season isn't the night before. You can't find the tag, the rifle isn't sighted in and an assortment of other unplanned pitfalls can almost guarantee your deer opener memories will leave a little to be desired. And so many hunters start making plans weeks or even months in advance.
It's early in the 2019 North Dakota deer application period, which makes this a good time to explain the deer lottery process. Even though the details haven't changed much in the last decade, I and many of my colleagues at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department still get a fair number of questions as the deadline approaches. How the Lottery Works
You often hear veteran anglers and biologists refer to the current status of North Dakota’s fisheries as “the good old days.” Of course, that’s a general reference and each individual water is unique. Some are doing better than others and at the moment one of those “better” waters is Lake Sakakawea.
May conjures up images of the first crocus on the prairie, lingering snow geese and turkey season winding down. We'll also likely spot the first brood of Canada goose goslings and find a few ticks to remove from you or your dog. While May doesn't have a true statewide fishing opener in North Dakota, it does have a special season that attracts a lot of attention in the northwestern part of the state.
The historical plight of bald eagles is told often. At its lowest point, surveys estimated the bald eagle breeding population was once as low as 500 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. Unregulated taking by humans, loss of habitat and environmental contaminants were main factors in the eagle's population decline. Bald eagles were not protected until Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940, because of fears that the nation's symbol was threatened with extinction.
A couple of weeks ago I highlighted a status report featured on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's weekly webcast, Outdoors Online, relating to the Missouri River- Lake Oahe walleye fishery. This week, I'll summarize the webcast's recent Devils Lake walleye population update featuring biologist Todd Caspers.
Every year some of the earliest open-water boat fishing in North Dakota occurs on the Missouri River. Historically, from Washburn down past Bismarck-Mandan, this "first boats in the water" has occurred anywhere from late February through early April. I'll qualify that, however, by noting that Nelson Lake in Oliver County, and the Garrison Dam Tailrace, are open year-round and sometimes host boats on nice days in the midst of winter, so they don't really count as the first "ice-off" of the spring.
Last year, North Dakota hunters submitted a record number of applications for moose, elk and bighorn sheep licenses. This was a bit of a curiosity because it was the first time Game and Fish had made the application process all-electronic for moose, elk and sheep, meaning paper applications were not used. There was some anticipation that license applications might go down a bit because of that, but apparently these once-in-a-lifetime licenses are more popular than ever.
What is the value of fishing and hunting to North Dakota? An economic activity report just released by the State Game and Fish Department provides some impressive statistics that help to answer that question in terms of dollars and cents. The report, produced by the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University, tracked hunter and angler expenditures for the 2017-18 hunting and fishing seasons.
One of the faster-growing shooting sports programs in North Dakota is the National Archery in the Schools Program. The State Game and Fish Department started working with NASP in the mid-2000s, and since then more than 180 schools have since implemented NASP activities, with more than 10,000 North Dakota students from middle elementary to high school participating.