Upward Trends

By Nick Simonson Autumn is always a time of optimism for many hunters as opportunities for excitement abound over the top of each rise and in the shady depths of every creek bottom.  Putting the approach of winter aside, fall provides so much in the way of hopefulness in the pursuit of game that it…

Our Outdoors: FOMO

By Nick Simonson FOMO is the acronym for the “fear of missing out.”  The term was coined in the mid-2000s as shorthand for a growing form of social anxiety about not being in on the latest happenings and events, particularly as online displays of all the fun other people were having increased through channels such…

Picture Perfect

By Doug Leier  I was paging through old photographs at Mom and Dad’s earlier this fall, looking for a 1980s picture of my Dad, his friend, Robert, and myself after a pheasant hunt in LaMoure County. We each held and proudly displayed one trophy rooster. It was from 1983 when you had 24 or so…

Taking the Tough Shots

By Nick Simonson With waterfowl hunting underway and the challenge of a rising pheasant on the horizon for many, the field presents a number of tough shots for hunters, especially those getting back after a long off season which saw some shooting sports facilities closed due to pandemic restrictions.  Whether new to the field, or…

ND PF Eyes Habitat Rebound to go with Bird Numbers

By Nick Simonson Despite the pandemic-related headwinds which hindered fundraising efforts and banquet activities for Pheasants Forever (PF) chapters across North Dakota this spring, State Coordinator Rachel Bush sees a lot of great developments for the organization in the region, and is eyeing up a successful return to the field buoyed by better bird numbers…

Our Outdoors: The Shed

By Nick Simonson My four-year-old son calls it an “adventure.”  Which, being of much slighter stature, and not as familiar with the rise and fall of the hillsides in the small drainage just outside of our housing development, the thirty-minute hike we take from time-to-time probably is a grand trek when perceived from his vantage…

An Autumn Preview

By Doug Leier While 2020 has been an unusual year, to say the least, there is some good news in the outdoors as many of North Dakota’s bird and big game populations are on the rise. PHEASANTS The spring population index for ring-necked pheasants in North Dakota was up 15% from 2019. In the primary…

Youth Seasons Provide Launchpad for Mentoring

By Nick Simonson As the leaves turn their yellow, gold, red and brown, another change in color signals the shift toward fall.  In the morning, along any given gravel road, should the conditions be just right and a recently-harvested field be available in pheasant country, it’s easy to see the transition in the bird population…

Duck Numbers Up for Opener

By Nick Simonson A wet fall of 2019 and abundant moisture which carried over into the start of 2020 primed the pump for a successful breeding season for waterfowl in North Dakota’s prairie pothole region.  With good recruitment comes increased numbers of ducks for hunters headed out to stake out their favorite slough as the…

Our Outdoors: Scent Checked

By Nick Simonson In the headlights, the yellowing leaves of fall in the ash tree alongside the approach on the gravel country road were pre-dawn reminders of the ongoing seasonal shift.  The cool air that curled into the truck as I opened the door was the second, and the third was the ritualistic walk around…

EHD Likely Cause of SW ND Deer Deaths

By Nick Simonson Reports throughout southwestern North Dakota of dead and dying whitetail deer discovered on the landscape – but particularly related to drainages and low water areas – are likely the result of an increase in a viral infection particular to the animals.  Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a virus carried by biting midges,…

The Ethical Hunter

By John Bradley, NDWF Executive Director Ethics refers to the study of how to determine the right or moral way to act when faced with everyday human predicaments. Hunting ethics are a set of moral standards that help us, as hunters, to make the right choice when we out on a hunt. I usually explain…

Our Outdoors: The Shot Not Taken

By Nick Simonson The eastern bank of clouds meant that my friends on the far side of the state likely would not see much hunting action as my dog and I traversed the gravel roads south and west of town away from the shadow of the frontal boundary.  The sun slowly climbed over the gray…

Meadowlark Decline Causes Concern

By Doug Leier Hunters often keep their eyes and ears open this time of year for reports on the fall flight forecast of ducks from North Dakota (up 9% from 2019) and late summer pheasant brood counts (better than last year).    Lost in this glimpse of what the 2020 fall hunting seasons might hold is…

Pheasant Numbers Jump in ND

By Nick Simonson With the completion of summer roadside surveys by the North Dakota Game & Fish Department, there’s plenty of good news for much of the state when it comes to upland game bird populations, with notable rebounds of pheasants in the western half of the state driving an overall increase in their numbers. …

Our Outdoors: They’re Laughing With You

By Nick Simonson The day after I tagged my deer last season was warm but windy and there was no snow on the ground.  It was more like a September scene than one from November.  With temperatures in the mid-50s and gusty breezes at 25 miles per hour, I watched the hillside grasses bend as…

Ruffing It

By Nick Simonson With ruffed grouse numbers still near their cyclical high this fall, opportunities to chase the thundering wing beats of this popular game bird abound from the aspen stands of northeastern Minnesota to the forests of the Rainy River drainage, to the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Gorge areas of northern North Dakota.  If…

Our Outdoors: Cast & Blast

By Nick Simonson As a youngster, I was fond of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.  More often than not, I’d cheat and just read each page and then figure my way back through the story to slay the dragon, escape from the alien prison camp, or ultimately get the best result possible in its pages….

Field Care for Velvet Antlers

By Nick Simonson South Dakota and North Dakota have some of the nation’s earliest-opening archery deer seasons.  With the Rushmore State’s bow opener on Sept. 1 and the Peace Garden State’s season kicking off at noon on Sept. 4, hunters across the northern great plains have the very unique opportunity of harvesting a whitetail or…

Small Grains for Small Birds

By Nick Simonson Dove hunting season is truly the initial sign of fall.  Federally set to start on the first of September this year, as it has most every year in the past, the chance to take mourning doves begins in an autumn month and kicks off as the calendar page turns.  Well ahead of…

Our Outdoors: In Good Standing

I’ve never been fond of heights.  Despite being marketed (and statistically confirmed) as the safest way to travel, airplanes have always made me uneasy.  Even the top of the Ferris wheel in the Fargo Scheels makes my stomach drop a little bit when my son and I reach the apex on the slow-moving trip to…

A Dedication to Fisheries Development

By Doug Leier  I grew up listening to Casey Kasem’s Weekly Top 40 music countdown. It was a different era where musical success wasn’t measured by downloads and clicks. Even to this day I can’t say I really understood how his Top 40 was compiled, but I was hip to the long-distance dedications.    Listeners (maybe thousands?) would write the show…

ND Pheasant Broods Up at Survey Midpoint

By Nick Simonson With summer conditions trending fair, and a shot of moisture at the season’s midpoint to help stretches of the state rebound from a minor drought early on, things are setting up well over most of North Dakota for pheasant recruitment.  Early indications from roadside reports conducted by the North Dakota Game &…

Meat in the Heat

By John Bradley Growing up hunting in Minnesota with my family, we’d avoid bowhunting for deer in September in fear of the occasional 80-degree day that could spoil meat quickly. It wasn’t until I moved out west that I started hunting the early season, when deer are often more predictable. During early season hunts like…

Our Outdoors: A Time Out of Place

By Nick Simonson Even in the dim start of the day which hinted back to how many seasons in the area had begun, with low clouds hanging over the rock-and-cedar covered edges of the small stream on Lake Superior’s north shore, it was evidently summer.  The humidity stuck to everything like the rust-colored algae on…

WMAs Provide Vital Access

By Doug Leier, NDG&F Dept When you consider North Dakota’s storied hunting heritage and the reality that about 93% of the land in the state is privately owned, it’s no wonder landowner-hunter relations have long been a vital component of our hunting legacy.   Nevertheless, the Game and Fish Department’s owned or managed wildlife management areas also play an important role in not only providing…

PLOTS Tops 800,000 Acres for 2020

By Nick Simonson   The North Dakota Game & Fish Department’s (NDG&F) Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program has regained an important benchmark in its efforts to open access to high-quality habitat for hunters each fall, as this year, according to Kevin Kading, NDG&F Private Lands Section Leader, the program has topped 800,000 acres…

High Goose Numbers Meet Aug. 15 Start of Management Take

By Nick Simonson   Where once Canada geese were a rarity in North Dakota, populations now continue to climb, leading to liberalized bag limits and more opportunities for hunters to start after these popular waterfowl.  With the August Management Take/Early September Season kicking off on Sat. Aug. 15, hunters will have an even greater chance…

Our Outdoors: Make it a Mentorship

By Nick Simonson   The recruitment, retainment and reactivation (R3) efforts underway across the hunting and fishing world are notable, monumental and ultimately important to the future of the outdoors and conservation.  States across the map have created special youth hunting weekends ahead of the general openers and agencies sponsor dedicated programs for facilitating time…

Canada Goose Management Season Enters Third Decade

By Doug Leier, NDG&F Dept. August is no longer just about winding down the fishing season and starting the planning and preparation for upcoming hunting seasons. While North Dakota has long had a crow season that got its start in mid-August, it wasn’t until changes several years ago put the early Canada goose opener in…