’97 Flood Brought Different Duty for Game Wardens

By Doug Leier In the past couple weeks, many media outlets in North Dakota, especially in the eastern part of the state, published or broadcast stories related to the 25th anniversary of the 1997 Red River flood.   With all those historical accounts taking place, it seemed more appropriate to wait a few weeks before relating…

The Peluso Report: Spring Pointers

By Mike Peluso Finally! I’m back into full open water guide mode here on the Missouri River near Bismarck. Spring is kind of here, if you look outside my window today, it would be easy to argue that it’s winter, but we definitely need the moisture. I have lots to talk about in this week’s…

Degrees of Difference

By Nick Simonson On a morning drive to school, my oldest son and I filled the commute with a discussion about the nature of cold-blooded animals, such as snakes and lizards and fish, versus warm-blooded animals like mammals and, of course in that category, people like him and his little brother.  From the falling iguanas…

Our Outdoors: Working with the Wind

By Nick Simonson “It’d be a great day…if it wasn’t for the wind.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I’d have enough for a season’s worth of bait, but such is spring in the upper Midwest.  The jet stream yaws and the days oscillate in turn: gusts from the south,…

Record Count of Bighorns in ND Again

NDG&F Dept. Release The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 2021 bighorn sheep survey, completed by recounting lambs in March, revealed a record 335 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, up 4% from 2020 and 15% above the five-year average. The count surpassed the previous record of 322 bighorns in 2020. Altogether, biologists counted 99…

The Peluso Report: It’s Here

By Mike Peluso Open water is here in Bismarck and it is here to stay! Ramps on the Missouri River are pushed, the ice is gone, and hopefully the walleyes will begin to filter north. I’ve only been out twice since returning to Bismarck after guiding on the ice all winter on Devils Lake. There…

NDA Deer Report Details Record Seasons, Better Herds

By Nick Simonson The release of the 2022 National Deer Association (NDA, online at deerassociation.com) Deer Report confirmed that on the heels of the pandemic in the fall of 2020, more hunters participated in the pursuit of whitetailed deer and other deer species than at any time in recent history.  With that increase in hunters…

Falconry: A Rare Hunt Worthy of Preservation

By Hannah Hayes Falconry by definition is the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. The most important word in this definition is “hunting.” There are several avenues a person can take to legally acquire a bird of prey such as education or rehabilitation….

Our Outdoors: Get Set for Spring Shooting Sports

By Nick Simonson Spring is in the air, and if you get a whiff of it in the coming days, it likely will bear with it the scent of gunpowder.  Across the country and the region, USA High School Clay Target Leagues are kicking off their spring season, bringing tens of thousands of student-athletes in…

Going Behind the Badge

By Doug Leier Many people are a little surprised and often enlightened when they visit with a North Dakota game warden and learn more about the people behind the badge. A hunter may not realize the time and resources spent in service training and administrative/safety requirements. Anglers know wardens are checking for over limits and…

Saving the Prairie, Saving Ourselves

By John Bradley As winter slowly starts to melt into spring, hunters will take to the fields for turkey, farmers will start planting their crops, and ranchers will turn out their cattle on fresh grass. It’s a cycle that happens every year and one that plays a critical role in the economy and quality of…

Our Outdoors: Turn of Phrase

By Nick Simonson I’ve never been much for coincidences, believing that all things are connected, particularly those in the natural world.  While luck, chance and odd occurrences do exist, everything happens for a reason.  Preparing for a long weekend trip to see friends in northern California and the redwood trees near the state’s northern border,…

Light Goose Hunting a Unique Spring Opportunity

By Doug Leier It’s hard to believe that the first spring light goose conservation order in North Dakota arrived more than 20 some years ago when I was working as a game warden. Time flies. The purpose then — and remains today — is to reduce light goose (snow goose) populations during spring as the…

The Peluso Report: Strong Finish on DL

By Mike Peluso I took my hand off the electric fence for a couple days’ break. I’m back down in Bismarck and the weather is showing signs of spring! I know it’s going to be difficult to return to the frozen tundra after feeling a little spring. I had my hand on the fence earlier…

Three Tying Tools That Make the Jump

By Nick Simonson In the blur of March and April when missions at the lure-crafting table and forays on the water begin to meld together, in addition to now wondering where my cheaters are (often on top of my head) I find myself flipping back and forth in the pages of my memory to locate…

Four Favorite Jigs That YOU Can Tie

By Nick Simonson A bag of collarless jigs presents an overwhelming array of possibilities headed into the spring fishing season, and with a simple selection of materials, it’s easy for anyone to craft fish catching lures, even those of us who once believed we were all thumbs.  From use on crappies and smallies to walleyes…

Our Outdoors: Harnessing Hope

By Nick Simonson I put the final turn of my whip finish on the black thread of the small jig, and closely trimmed the hackle wound behind the silver-plated lead of the lure destined for a small tacklebox on my desk.  It would be a gift for a close family friend; a young angler who…

Watch for Wildlife as Winter Wanes

By Doug Leier Starting in late December, one of the most common inquiries, other than where the fish are biting, has been about the wildlife in winter and if there’s anything people can do to help them out. As a biologist, we want what’s best for fish and wildlife. Yet, at the same time we…

The Peluso Report: A Strong Turn on DL

By Mike Peluso Things have really turned around on Devils Lake in the last week or so! The fish are definitely a lot more eager to feed and that makes my job as a guide a heck of a lot more enjoyable. The weather still hasn’t been the greatest, but even that seems to be…

Tying Chip’s Northern Magic

By Nick Simonson There are far better things to be doing this time of year than just watching the weather and waiting for the ice to break off that favorite openwater run for springtime pike.  With the time available between now and whenever that comes, crafting those big bites that toothy critters slam in the…

As CWD Spreads, So Do Restrictions

By Nick Simonson With the detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in sampled deer from three units where the disease had not been found before the 2021 firearms season, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum executed the most recent installment of the state’s CWD proclamation on Mar. 1, relating to the prion-based disease and restrictions designed…

Our Outdoors: Full Circle

By Nick Simonson In the dreamsicle light of dusk on the backwater bay, I led a line of young anglers out onto the snow-covered water in hopes that a few willing crappies would fill the couple of hours between our afternoon of sledding and a planned pizza dinner back at the cabin.  The line, however,…

Elk, Moose & Bighorn Applications Open

NDG&F Release Elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications are available online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. The deadline for applying is March 23. A total of 563 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 40 from last year. A total of 404 moose licenses are available, a decrease…

Midwinter Waterfowl Counts Dip

By Doug Leier My duties as an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are varied. One day I’m helping a hunter better understand the deer lottery, the next I may be checking on possible zebra mussels, urban wildlife and the invariable inquiry about where the hot fish bite is. I also…

The Peluso Report: Love What You Do

By Mike Peluso You definitely have to love what you do to be able to endure the pure punishment ice fishing can throw at you. Cold weather, heavy winds, and finicky fish are just part of the equation. Mix in some green clients, high expectations of magazine cover pictures and you have a recipe for…

Prepping for Spring Pike on the Fly

By Nick Simonson Like any new adventure in the outdoors, fly fishing takes best when bolstered by early and frequent success. No other species provides more heart-stopping strikes, wrist-jolting runs, and a sense of accomplishment out of the gate for new fly rodders than the northern pike. That early and oft-occurring spring excitement they bring…

NASP Grows Ahead of State Tourney

By Nick Simonson Like many other youth-oriented activities, the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) powered its way through the pandemic year, with virtual events serving in place of the state tournaments normally held each March in North Dakota.  With more than 15,000 participants in grades 4 through 12 in the state and an in-person…

Our Outdoors: A Touch of Spring

By Nick Simonson The wakeup temperature on Saturday morning was seven above.  Slackjawed, I stared at the readout in the upper right corner of my watch and laughed.  I thought no way was that single digit reading ever going to reach the 48 degrees promised on the far side of the curve as I stepped…

CWD Detected in Three New Units

NDG&F Release With most chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing completed, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reports 26 deer tested positive during the 2021 hunting season. Fourteen were from hunting unit 3F2, eight from unit 3A1, and one was found in unit 3B1. Single positive deer were also found in three units (3C, 3D1…

Harvest Surveys Provide Vital Info

By Doug Leier Anyone who has hunted in North Dakota might have received a hunter harvest survey in the mail from time to time. And right now is one of those times to watch for a survey in your email inbox. For most surveys, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department selects recipients at random,…