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Doug Leier, Published May 06 2007

Web can connect you to the outdoors

Every day, we are bombarded with information about Web sites. But a lot of it is good information. Web sites are a great tool to learn more about a specific company or topic.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department Web site is no exception. While access to the Internet is an indoor activity, a few minutes on the Game and Fish Web site can enhance your time outdoors. Sure, the department Web site has information on hunting, fishing and trapping in North Dakota, but there’s more.

As an avid outdoorsman, I have put together a few of my favorite sites that I have found myself using. Here’s a rundown of available features available at the click of your mouse at gf.nd.gov.

Buy a license

Simply put, you can buy and print hunting, fishing and trapping licenses from a computer. You can even print extras, so you have them available in several locations, like a wallet, tackle box and glove compartment.

And, if you lose a license bought online, you can print another, rather than going through the time-consuming process of applying through the mail for a duplicate license.

Apply for lottery license

Applying online for turkey, deer, moose, elk, pronghorn or other lottery license saves you the cost of a stamp. Once you’re in the system, you can get reminders on what you applied for last time, or how many bonus points you’ve accumulated.

Thousands of North Dakotans will use this feature in the coming month as the deer license application period opens around May 15. One thing to watch out for: applying for a lottery license is separate from buying a regular license. Remembering this might save you a click or two as you’re going through the application process.

Download a PLOTS map

Due to the size of the annual PLOTS guide, you might not want to print every page from your computer.

But it’s nice to know you can print individual pages of your favorite map sheets, in case you haven’t yet had time to pick up the full PLOTS guide, or in case you lose your copy of the guide temporarily.

Or maybe your full copy is out in your vehicle and you just don’t want to go outside to look up something when you can view a particular map on your computer screen.

Lake contour maps

This too is a great advantage. You can view contour maps that show the lake’s shoreline and depths, and include lake features such as boat ramp locations. Stocking reports, also available on the Game and Fish Web site, provide insight into which fish are found in the lake.

Weekly webcast

A few months ago, the Game and Fish Department started a weekly, web-exclusive news program called North Dakota Outdoors Online.

The program features conversations with the people whose decisions may affect your time outdoors. The Web site also has audio files of many of the department’s weekly news releases.

N.D. Outdoors magazine

The department’s monthly print magazine, North Dakota Outdoors, is also posted online. Remember a story from a few years back but don’t have the exact issue? No problem there either. You’ll find back issues of North Dakota Outdoors going back to 2001 indexed on the Web site.

Even more features

Here’s a list of other features or information available. Register a boat. Look up hunter education numbers. Check lottery results. Learn about education programs or volunteer opportunities. Check regulations. Verify important dates.

Like most Web sites, content is frequently added and updated. While accomplishing your task might take a little effort at first, after a visit or two you’ll soon realize how much simpler using the Web site becomes.

While it seems our thirst for time outdoors is never satisfied, the Internet does make information more easily accessible, which can save valuable time better spent outdoors.

And one more thing. A majority of people now have Internet access at home or work, but for those who aren’t hooked up, access is also available at public libraries, so anyone who truly wants to log on to the World Wide Web can find a means to do so.

Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov Leier’s blog can be found online

at www.areavoices.com