Our Outdoors: A Season You Don’t Want To Miss

By Nick Simonson The past week has been my busiest in the outdoors, as it has been for the last eight years.  There’s been more to get done than loading up for pheasant opener at the farm.  The checklist is far longer than the one leading up to the start of firearms deer season.  Fishing,…

ND Tag Lottery Pointers

By Doug Leier Understanding how the Game and Fish Department’s lottery and bonus point system works can help license applicants make better decisions based on their expectations.    First, it’s a matter of understanding the lottery system. Terminology is key when you think of a bonus point versus the misnomer of a preference point. There is no preference. Just…

Spring Turkey Hunting Preview

By Nick Simonson With an increase of nearly 800 tags over last season, North Dakota’s turkey hunters are getting set for a spring hunt which may be one of the best in recent memory, which is especially amazing considering a near all-time high for turkey hunters last spring, and the second-highest harvest of turkeys ever…

The Outdoor Heritage Fund is a Boon to ND Hunters & Anglers

By John Bradley North Dakota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF) may be the best conservation tool in the state, yet if you stopped any hunter or angler at your favorite outdoor store, they would probably give you a blank stare if you asked them what the Outdoor Heritage Fund does.  It’s understandable as projects are not…

Our Outdoors: Don’t Think Twice – Wear One

By Nick Simonson As anglers, we proudly display our passions on our sleeves, quite literally.  Sweatshirts emblazoned with Rapala, Vexilar, Huk and Humminbird logos are as standard issue amongst our ranks as camouflage is within the armed forces. Whether it’s due to brand loyalty or just some clothing picked up with a purchase or as…

2021 Licenses Needed Before Lottery Tags Issued

By Doug Leier  If you drew a spring turkey license and haven’t received the tag in the mail yet, it could be because you haven’t purchased a new general game and habitat license or combination license for the 2021 hunting seasons.   The general game and habitat license is required for pretty much all hunting of game species…

Spring Flings: Four Early Season ND Fishing Favorites

By Nick Simonson North Dakota offers some incredible spring fishing, with its year-round season and limited pressure compared to neighboring states.  With those opportunities come the chances for a trophy fish, and a lot of fun angling when the action is fast.  If you’re looking to plan a trip, consider some of these stops around…

Our Outdoors: Big Fish Pic Tips

By Nick Simonson With this weekend’s news of the North Dakota state walleye record falling, and the conditions aligning for early angling opportunities, it is a picture-perfect time to catch some huge spring fish.  If you plan to take some photos of your angling success this spring or any time during the openwater season, here…

R3 Coordinator Stresses Partnerships in Upcoming Efforts

By Doug Leier One of the nationwide hunting and fishing agency priorities is referred to as R3. Recruiting new participants; retaining the current; and reactivating past hunters and anglers who have fallen away from outdoor recreation. Cayla Bendel is the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s R3 coordinator. She joins a growing list of conservation…

Our Outdoors: The Pulls of Two New Seasons

By Nick Simonson I questioned the wind and the chill blowing in the mist rising off the wavy surface of the small powerplant lake, a place I frequent this time of year to cure cabin fever, prepare things for openwater, and chase the largemouth bass and crappies that are two months ahead of their brothers…

18 ND Deer Test Positive for CWD in 2020

By Doug Leier Information and education are important components of the fight against chronic wasting disease, or CWD as it is often abbreviated. Ironically, shortening the identifier doesn’t give credence to the concern posed for deer species, big game biologists and wildlife managers. The Game and Fish Department website is home to details about CWD…

Ranum WPA to Provide Habitat for Wildlife, Options for Outdoorsmen

By Nick Simonson In the formative years of my upland experience, CRP was at its peak, grouse, partridge and pheasants were plentiful and there was an area of PLOTS, WPAs and WMAs just up the hill from my backdoor that provided a young hunter and his dog everything they could want in a walk.  A…

Dry North, Cold South May Impact Waterfowl

By Nick Simonson Early spring-like conditions have many fans of the outdoors thinking about returning flocks of snow geese, Canada geese, mallards and other waterfowl flying into the area as a sure sign that the season has come ahead of schedule.  As the limited snow recedes and things begin to warm up, some concerns about…

Our Outdoors: It’s all in the Name

By Nick Simonson When it comes to marketing, a good lure needs a good name.  No angler is going to buy lures called The Skunk, Zippo, or The Blanker.  Lures must have two essentials to catch the attention of anglers.  First they must catch fish, and second they must have a moniker to remember, that…

Inside the Spring Light Goose Conservation Order

By Doug Leier It’s hard to believe that it was more than 20 some years ago when I was working as a game warden when the first spring light goose conservation order arrived.   Time flies.   The purpose then — and remains today – is to reduce light goose (snow goose) populations during spring as the birds migrate north to their nesting grounds.   While the opening…

Early Spring Walleye Tips

By Nick Simonson In the cold of early spring, it’s not uncommon to see anglers patrolling those initial openwater areas for the first walleyes of the season.  As they stage for their spawning run, these fish provide a welcome bite for those looking to break out the long rod and shake the rust off with…

Our Outdoors: Staking Out Spring Spaces

By Nick Simonson As a weather junkie, I know that any forecast over five days out is not to be trusted.  As an angler though, especially the glass-half-full kind who relishes the thought of the season’s first cast over running water, I know that even a 16-day experimental forecast which shows a hint at extended…

Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Finds Kindred Spirits

By Doug Leier My duties as an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are varied. For example, I help with other Game and Fish functions such as checking on fishing access sites, possible fish kills or conducting upland and small game surveys.  One of the surveys is a count of waterfowl…

Inside the Ammo Shortage

By Nick Simonson What outdoor product has a higher hold rating than Bitcoin?  What is getting pricier than a 1960s-era Mickey Mantle baseball card as collectors take stock of their youth-based memorabilia?  What is seeing a run unlike anything we’ve recently witnessed, beyond perhaps Charmin and Cottonelle last March? The answer to all three of…

Giving Big Game a Chance This Winter

By John Bradley Winter is a challenging season for North Dakota’s wildlife, with below zero temperatures, snowfall, and limited forage. People can help animals by leaving them undisturbed, so they have a better chance to survive the season. During a normal winter without extremely frigid temperatures, or unusually deep snow, about 90 percent of adult…

Hunter Ed Perseveres in Pandemic

By Doug Leier A year ago, the pandemic created a unique set of circumstances for the North Dakota hunter education program. With a goal of training safe hunters, the Game and Fish Department and hundreds of volunteer instructors were faced with a challenge – providing the necessary coursework and gun safety while adhering to safety…

Plan for Habitat Now

By Nick Simonson Despite the chill of winter settling in across the region, now is the time for making spring plans for habitat work.  Whether it’s a ranching, farming or conservation-focused operation, landowners have more technology and options at their fingers than ever before, and a host of helpers across the upper Midwest to connect…

Our Outdoors: First Follow

By Nick Simonson In mid-February my mind often wanders toward spring, and if allowed, into the warmth of summer and thoughts of fishing trips past under the heat of a shining sun.  One of my most formative fishing memories is that of catching bluegills off the dock on those sunny days that blur into the…

New G&F Tech Assists Anglers

By Doug Leier   When my son, dad and I went spearing, Dad had his ice saw in the back of the truck. We put it in the sled and hauled it out. But we didn’t use it. We could have, but the lithium ion auger popped the holes and within minutes the ice was clear and…

Our Outdoors: Progress Toward a Mess

By Nick Simonson By this point in the ice season, what was once a well organized ice house is now a disaster.  Okay, well, not a complete disaster, but definitely showing the signs of use to a point where it needs a mid-season clean up.  Where at the end of December the well-worn unit was…

Pheasants Sitting Pretty at Midwinter

By Nick Simonson Habitat and food.  Food and habitat.  The two biggest driving factors for the survival and propagation of pheasants in North Dakota often hang on what happens in winter, and where birds live and eat are often affected by the conditions that arrive from December to March on the northern plains.  In years…

Mild Winter Bodes Well for Most ND Fisheries

By Nick Simonson To say this winter has been unusual would be an understatement.  According to the University of Illinois’ Midwestern Regional Climate Center, this winter has tracked along the line of that season in 2011-2012 as the all-time mildest for Bismarck, and remains in the very mild category for Fargo.  While the general population…

2020 Sets Stage for New Year in ND

By Doug Leier   With the oversaturation of 2020 year in review columns and news, I elected to wait a month before the annual over-the-shoulder look North Dakota outdoors from the past year. The message wasn’t going to change, so no need to rush.  Here’s a brief review.   Record Lakes Stocked   Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel…