Hunters prepare for openerFriday’s opening of deer gun season is a highly anticipated event for some, enjoying time with family and friends and eventually, some deer byproducts.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Friday’s opening of deer gun season is a highly anticipated event for some, enjoying time with family and friends and eventually, some deer byproducts.
But, area hunters may have to work a bit harder this year to harvest their deer allotment.
Effects of a harsh winter combined with increased precipitation left a mark on this year’s deer gun season.
“There is a lot of cover for them this year so you’re gonna have to get out there and work for them,” said hunter Lyle Tift of Belfield. “They don’t have to move as far for food, water or shelter.”
Tift believes a harsh winter hurt this year’s deer numbers.
Standing crops will also pose a challenge to hunters as it is against the law to hunt unharvested lands, Tift said, adding wet crops delayed area harvests.
“It’s going to be a lot of cover for the deer and a lot of feed,” Tift said.
Bill Schaller, North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden, said the overall deer population in western North Dakota is very healthy.
“We definitely lost deer last year over the winter,” Schaller said. “There is no question about that, but we had high deer numbers going into the winter.”
Paul Schadewald, NDGF chief of administrative services division, said 144,400 deer licenses have been issued this year, down 5,000 from last year.
“We have a lot more non-residents who’d like to come than there are licenses,” Schadewald said.
While deer season does not draw near the number of hunters that pheasant and waterfowl seasons do, a positive economic impact can be felt areawide.
Pheasant season draws about 40,000 hunters, waterfowl draws about 20,000 and deer season attracts between 2,000 and 3,000 hunters, Schadewald said.
“The deer hunters coming into Dickinson and our southwest North Dakota area contribute to the economy through a variety of purchases that affect lodging, restaurants, sporting goods stores, gas stations and other retail and are a vital factor for the business community,” Terri Thiel, executive director of the Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in an e-mail. “It may be a short season, but it’s an infusion of dollars that benefit everyone.”
Those in the meat business notice business bustling this time of year.
Dean Evenson, owner of Dean’s Meat Market Inc., a custom meat processing business in Dickinson, said he is generally much busier this time of year.
“We make pretty much everything,” Evenson said. “Summer sausage, country styles, slim jims, brats…”
Evenson stores wild game separate from other meat.
With hunting season opener on Friday, some people do not waste time in getting their meat sent to processing.
“We might have some here early Friday afternoon,” Evenson said. “We try to get it back to them within a couple of weeks. Anywhere from one week to a month.”
Evenson emphasized the importance of keeping harvested meat clean prior to processing it.
If the meat is covered in dirt, grass, hair and other debris, many times it is unusable.
Friday will culminate Tift’s 40th year of deer hunting season.
“My whole family hunts,” Tift said. “It’s a big tradition. My son when he got married, he flew back from Vegas a day early on his honeymoon to be here for opening day.”