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Doug Leier, Published September 28 2011

Leier: Hunters anticipate the joys of October


Most kids grow up looking forward to the Christmas season. Even before Thanksgiving turkey is served they are counting the days before they can open their share of the wrapped boxes beneath the tree.

Many hunters feel that way about October. While September offers its archery and dove, grouse, crane and waterfowl openers, hunters count the days until pheasant season starts and the number of “presents” to choose from on any given day is at its peak.

It doesn’t matter what species you pursue, there’s always a reward awaiting, if not a heavy game bag, then perhaps a memory of an early morning ray of sun wrapped around a frosty cattail, or the wild crow of a rooster pheasant interrupting the stillness while you wait in a treestand for a deer to come by.

Before I fall into the trap of pushing Christmas decorations before Veterans Day, let me say I love this time of year. And I’m not alone. Legions have grown to appreciate fall in North Dakota. I think part of it is knowing that the transition from green to brown will soon enough give way to a transition from brown to white.

In October, a warm 70-degree Saturday is meant to be spent outside. Personally, I don’t care if it’s one last cast for bluegills, or an evening pheasant, grouse or duck hunt. If nothing else, I’d suggest raking leaves, mowing the lawn, going for a walk in a park or just around the block – just head outdoors and enjoy it. The opportunities are only limited by your willingness to get out.

In fact, it would be easy to argue that October is to hunting what the Sunday church pot luck is to eating. If you can’t find something you like, it’s your own fault.

With the exception of sharp-tailed grouse, which tend to become a bit wild by October, the staples of September openers become a bit more accessible in October.

While sandhill crane season also opens in September, their migration through North Dakota typically peaks about mid-October. Anyone who’s ever dedicated a hunt to these large gray birds can well agree they provide a unique opportunity.

I fondly remember many crane hunts and the meals that followed. Don’t let the critics fool you, like any other game, when prepared correctly crane is wild fare I’ll never turn down.

Finally let me make a quick plug for deer hunting, which gets us to November when most seasons are still open, but a lot of the migratory birds have headed south. A few units in North Dakota still have antlerless deer licenses and fall turkey licenses available.

Hunters should check the Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov for an updated list of licenses available and to complete an online application.

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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