Last week, the state Game and Fish Department began its seasonal periodic reminders urging the thousands of deer hunters to take a few minutes to go find their 2013 deer license.
The primary reason is that it's not uncommon for hunters to misplace or accidentally toss a license between the time it arrives in August or September and the day the deer season opens.
Fact of the matter is, if you can't find your deer license in the next 12 hours I'd venture to say the odds of finding it just before the regular deer gun season opens at 12 noon on Friday, Nov. 8, are slim to none. So if you were drawn for a license and can't locate it soon, you need to start the process of replacing it sooner rather than later.
It's also not uncommon for hunters to store their deer license envelope without even opening it until the first day they deer hunt. On rare occasions, the unit or deer species printed on the license might not match up with what the hunter was expecting, and if that's the case, it's a good thing to find out before opening day.
Regardless of the specific situation and scenario you find yourself in, the key is to begin the process of correcting it.
Twenty years ago, before just about everyone could look up what license they received online, this wasn't much of an issue. When the deer license arrived in the mail, hunters eagerly tore it open to see where and what they would be hunting that year. If there was a mistake, like a unit designation for which the hunter did not apply, there was time to get it sorted out.
In my nearly 20 years of working as a warden and biologist in the state's largest population area, I know I've tried to help several hundred deer hunters who wished they would have double-checked on their license prior to the day before, or the morning of, the deer opener.
Rest assured if it's happened to you in Williston, Wahpeton, Golva or Grafton, you might be surprised at how many have fallen into similar circumstances. While wardens, field staff, and all Department employees, really, try their best to get hunters into the field, it's not always possible on short notice.
One recent year I had a call at 6:15 a.m. from a hunter who had already left town and was en route to his hunting spot and realized after 90 miles he'd left one of the most important pieces of the hunt back home. After a few phone calls to find out the availability of a game warden, the hunter received a replacement tag on short notice and was able to join his crew for the first day of the hunt.
Better to locate a license now than have to experience the stress of a last-minute rush to secure a duplicate. With thousands of hunters spread across the state, the ending isn't always happy, and I've unfortunately been a part of several situations that took longer to remedy and resulted in opening day memories for the wrong reasons.
While the deer season looks and feels like it's a little ways away, if you come up empty in your preseason license search, logon to the Game and Fish Department website and click on the online services tab. On the right hand side you'll see a tab for a duplicate or replacement hunting or fishing license application. Print off, fill it out, have it notarized, include the replacement fee, and in a few days you'll be your way to making the good kind of memories in 2013.
Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: email@example.com. Read his blog at dougleie.areavoices.com