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Successful deer opener in southwest North Dakota

Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter are national holidays marked on every calendar.

One holiday not recognized by a national calendar but very much celebrated in North Dakota, is the opening weekend of deer season.

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For North Dakota hunters, drawing and filling a deer license is like opening a present on Christmas or eating the last piece of turkey on Thanksgiving. The deer season opener began last Friday.

“It’s just like getting one big present,” Dickinson State sophomore Eric Seiler said with a laugh. “With me, my dad and my brother all getting tags this year, it’s pretty exciting.”

Dickinson resident Mason Heth added: “Deer season is about equal to Christmas for some families, including mine. It’s a fun time to get together and do something everyone has fun with.”

Despite deer licenses in North Dakota being at their lowest totals since 1983, the lack of tags didn’t take away from the excitement of opening weekend.

After applying and not drawing a deer license since 2007, Seiler finally claimed one. He made the most of it by tagging a 4-by-4 buck. He admitted the one he shot wasn’t the biggest deer he saw on the landscape.

“We actually saw some bigger ones,” Seiler said. “I shot and missed, because the Friday that deer season opened it was really windy and Saturday was pretty windy. I took some far shots and I don’t know if the wind affected it or if I had a little bit of the jitters, because I haven’t gotten a license in the last six years. I didn’t know what the deal was, but I ended up seeing this one and I couldn’t pass it up. It was big enough to be a shooter.”

Though the excitement of filling a license can be gone in less than a second, the hunter’s job isn’t over.

Heth, who received a doe tag in the second drawing, helped his sister, Myra, and his mom, Jane, attempt to fill their tags. Mason aided his sister in filling her tag on Friday and his mom’s tag on Sunday, but in the days between, he managed to fill his doe tag on Saturday morning.

“My main focus was those two getting their deer because the first weekend was the only one they could hunt,” Mason said. “My sister lives in Bismarck and has to work and my mom will be busy too.”

Seiler, who plays baseball for DSU, said he is going back out to spend quality time with his brother and father to help fill their tags.

“My dad actually ended up buying some land out in the Badlands and we put a cabin out there,” Seiler said. “I’ve been out there at least once a week checking cams, lines and looking with binoculars to see what we had out on our land. I’ve been doing that for the last couple months, just getting ready.

“My brother doesn’t live in Dickinson, so it will be nice to see him a couple weekends in a row. I’ll get to spend a little time with my family. We don’t get to do that much anymore with everyone working and me busy with baseball. It’s a nice getaway for our whole family.”