Much like the trading posts of the old west, Andrus Outdoors is not only a place to purchase supplies and harvest crucial knowledge of the wildlife in southwestern North Dakota; it is a venue in which outdoors culture is cultivated and community is formed. A statured oasis in that sea of corporate consolidation often called “progress,” Here stands a bastion of dignified character and American individuality that has always been celebrated on the Western Edge.
For the past 16 years, Andrus Outdoors has been a hangout and watering hole for outdoors enthusiasts of every kind, all the while providing registry-like knowledge of the country and a general respect for its patrons.
From Tuesday through Saturday, from the purple peak of every North Dakota dawn til each glowing sun falls into the west, one is sure to find Greg and Susan Knutson, the place’s owners, toiling away at their respective errands around the shop.
According to the 2019-20 North Dakota Hunting and Trapping Guide Book, “Hunting on posted land without permission from the owner can be prosecuted even if the land is not posted to the letter of the law. Trespass is a criminal violation punishable by suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for a period of at least one year.”
“You’ve have to go ask that landowner for permission to hunt,” Greg confirms when asked about the legalities of crossing property lines while harvesting deer this season. “He owns that property so he has the right to say no on that property.”
“It's always good to ask, though, to be respectful to the landowner,” the proprietor added.
According to Greg, it's usually a matter of domestic expediency that prevents most landowners from allowing hunters free access to their properties. “There are some people who will let you hunt, but then there are some people that have family and they’re going to let the family hunt their own property,” he said.
The Knutsons’ knowledge of fishing abounds, as well.
“Well, there’s always Patterson Lake right on the west side of Dickinson, about a mile out of town on Highway 10,” Mr. Knutson said, trying to recall all his favorite spots in the area. “The guys that stop here in the summer, they go to Lake Sakakawea, about 70 miles north of here.”
The outdoors aficionado does recommend that augers show extra caution this season.
“Right now, the ice just isn’t safe so fishing won’t be good for a while,” he said. “Then, with this warm weather we’re having for the next 10 days or so, it's probably going to make it rotten. There’s been some guys fishing up there, but it's just not safe.”
For years, stores like these had no natural predators, but now, not five miles from this little mom-and-pop establishment, a blue, corporate supermarket sign looms just over the hill adding an undertone of urgency to this once easy locale.
The Knutsons are still a laidback pair of proprietors but the pressure is on.