Season openers coming soon
In case you missed it, the Canada goose early hunting season opened on Saturday, kind of a first shot to open fall hunting seasons.
No, I'm not advocating winterizing the boat and mothballing the fishing gear just yet. Just want to keep you in the loop about upcoming seasons and other hunting notes of interest.
Tuesday is the mourning dove season opener, which was basically our fall kickoff prior to the establishment of the early Canada goose season.
Next comes the deer and pronghorn archery season opener, always the Friday of Labor Day weekend. This year the start date is Sept. 4, the latest opener possible, but North Dakota's archery deer season still opens earlier than most states in the region.
With an opener on every weekend, Sept. 11 is the next in line with sharp-tailed grouse, partridge, ruffed grouse and squirrel; followed on the 17th by youth deer, and the 18th with sandhill crane and youth waterfowl.
Youth seasons have evolved rapidly over the past decade as part of a growing effort to provide young hunters a bit of preference for the sake of exposing them to the great outdoors.
The youth-only deer season is open to young hunters ages 12-15.
The 2009 legislature passed a bill that allows 12-and 13-year-olds an antlerless white-tailed deer license only. Those 14 and 15, who have not previously had a deer gun license, are still eligible for a special "youth" license for any deer statewide, except for mule deer bucks in several western units.
Receiving a license as a 12-or 13-year-old does not take away eligibility for the special youth license once the young hunter reaches age 14.
The youth waterfowl weekend for ages 15 and younger is Sept. 19-20.
Then comes the resident-only waterfowl opener on Sept. 26, followed by the first day for nonresident waterfowl hunters on Oct. 3.
Two days of pheasant hunting for young hunters ages 15 and younger also starts on Oct. 3, preceded by the pronghorn gun season on Oct. 2.
Arguably the second-most popular opening weekend, just behind deer gun season though some may even debate about that, comes Oct. 10 with the annual pheasant season, while fall turkey also shares the same opener.
Regardless of personal ranking, the deer gun opener on Nov. 6 marks an unofficial three-day weekend as nearly 100,000 deer hunters will enjoy the 2009 deer hunting season.
In addition to the popular openers, North Dakota also has the limited bighorn sheep, elk and moose seasons, as well as a number of trapping openers within the fall stretch. To keep up to date on all the seasons, visit the Game and Fish Department Web site at gf.nd.gov.
One more note about the youth hunting seasons, which provide the next generation of hunters a special opportunity.
Inevitably we'll field questions from adult hunters wondering how they can legally accompany a young hunter and still hunt themselves. While I'll never try to dampen the spirit of an adult hunter, I'd suggest that rather than looking for loopholes that might allow adults to hunt other species, leave your gun at home and focus on one-on-one mentorship and a successful and safe outing.
Adults will have plenty of time during the regular seasons to enjoy all that fall on the prairie provides for you and the kids.