DOUG LEIER: Spring offers a variety of options for enjoying the outdoors
I’ve always enjoyed the arrival of spring. I’ve lived in a number of towns and areas in just about every corner of North Dakota, and whether it’s Williston, Bottineau, Bismarck or West Fargo, each has its own special draw.
While all of us in the Midwest are fortunate to have four distinct seasons, the arrival and departure of each season certainly varies depending on your location, even within each state. For instance, if you live in Dickinson, the first robins may show up following a warm south breeze around Valentine’s Day, but they might not appear until weeks later as the last drifts of snow melt along the shelterbelts of Grand Forks County.
In fact, though the calendar says spring started on March 20, many people have different definitions of when spring truly arrives for them. That’s the beauty of spending time outdoors. It’s what we make it.
So, this spring, I urge you to blow the rust off winter and get out and enjoy. You don’t have to have a spring turkey license, but if you do, the season starts April 12 and runs through May 18, so there’s plenty of opportunity to call in a wild turkey.
And don’t be discouraged if you haven’t had a chance to hunt snow geese during the spring conservation season. It’s also open through May 18, and even if the big push of birds may have passed by, there are usually a few straggling groups that can provide a good hunt.
If spring snow goose hunting doesn’t pique your interest, it’s still a great time to just get out and take a drive across the prairie. You might see a nesting bald eagle — the numbers of which have increased dramatically over the past couple of decades — or even a chance observation of a whooping crane. Just a couple of hundred whooping cranes make the trek north each spring, so count yourself fortunate if you catch a glimpse of one.
One thing I do know is you will not see either of these birds while you are sitting indoors.
You probably didn’t notice it, but the spring crow season opened March 8. I’ve never dedicated a day to hunting crows, but if you’re looking for a new outdoor challenge and another way to enjoy spring, the spring crow season runs through April 27.
Fishing, of course, is on our minds a lot this time of year. While North Dakota’s season is open 365 days a year, this time of year generally is a transition time between solid ice and open water. It’s a good time get your equipment ready so when the ice goes off your favorite water you are ready to go.
Don’t forget, April 1 marks the annual renewal date for a fishing license so you’ll need one as of Tuesday. Licensing is easily done from the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov. An added advantage to purchasing a license online is that you can print an extra copy for your tackle box, and if you lose that, you can simply log back on and print out a new one.
Or, a new option since last summer is simply to download an electronic copy onto your mobile phone, as that now serves as a legal verification — the same as a paper copy.
There is one fishing season that does have an opener, and that is paddlefish snagging, which begins May 1.
Whatever your interest, one guarantee is, you won’t have any of this outdoor fun indoors.
Leier is a biologist for N.D. Game and Fish Department. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at dougleier.areavoices.com.