Thankful for the people, the outdoors, the seasonsOver the years I’ve tried to make this column somewhat seasonal, writing about fishing in the spring and hunting in the fall, and following the latest conservation issues and outdoor topics.
By: Doug Leier, The Dickinson Press
Over the years I’ve tried to make this column somewhat seasonal, writing about fishing in the spring and hunting in the fall, and following the latest conservation issues and outdoor topics.
Since this column will come out on Thanksgiving, that’s the theme for the week. I’m thankful and feel blessed with the opportunity to interact with the people who enjoy North Dakota’s outdoors. I’m also thankful to live in a place that has so many outdoor opportunities that are fairly close to home and not always crowded to the point of diminishing the experience just a bit.
Thanksgiving is also a good time to wrap up the regular deer season and assess some of the other seasons to date. Even though the deer gun season closed on Sunday, the there’s no reason to pack away the shotgun as a fair amount of pheasant and other upland game, turkey and waterfowl seasons remain open as the calendar turns from November to December, not to mention muzzleloader and archery deer seasons.
So again, don’t for a minute lament Thanksgiving as the close to your 2009 hunting opportunities.
On a broad scale, so far the fall is playing out fairly close to expectations. Pheasant, grouse and partridge numbers are down from other recent years. Winter was tough and the first week of June not only saw cool weather and flurries from the sky, but parts of southwestern North Dakota had snow accumulations nearing 6 inches the first weekend in June, during nesting and the beginning of the June hatch, which is nothing but bad for pheasants and other upland game.
Still, most hunters will agree that what you get out of a hunt relates directly to what you put into it. If you sat on the approach waiting for the birds to come to you, odds are there’s plenty of room in the freezer.
It’s much the same for deer. Because of the severe winter, the deer population in many parts of the state is down somewhat from last year, and that is reflected in fewer licenses made available. Coupled with mild weather throughout the deer season and a fair amount of row crops still standing in the field in many areas, it’s understandable that some hunters are reporting seeing fewer deer.
On the other hand, an extra evening of scouting or a few extra hours of walking have been part of the equation for success for many deer hunters.
A typical year of hunting is about as easily diagrammed as “normal” weather or average temperatures. It’s hardly ever average or normal. Those are just numeric results of all the other years averaged together.
And in that respect, it’s likely that this year’s deer and pheasant seasons will still be well above average, when compared to the average of the last 20 years or so.
If you’re finding fewer pheasants than last year or deer season was a bit of a challenge, I won’t say I’m surprised. But let’s put it in perspective and think back 10, 20 or more years ago and how does it compare?
For another perspective, let’s add in waterfowl. Most likely, post-season surveys will indicate a better season, especially for ducks, than last year, which was also above average.
When you add all of our seasons together so far and compare against the average, we do have much to be thankful for.
— Leier is a biologist for the Game and Fish Depatment. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.