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Doug Leier, Published October 04 2011

Leier: Don't shy away from trying something new on next outdoors excursion

Every day after my alarm clock goes off, my first order of business is to start the coffee. And no matter what time I turn in at night, the last step is to double-check to make sure the doors are locked and the kids are tucked in.

In between, it’s a safe bet there’s another cup of coffee and a look at the daily paper, a routine that’s predictable enough that occasionally my wife correctly exclaims that I “need to break out of the mold once in awhile”

Most hunters perhaps have the same general pattern. On opening weekends for pheasant, duck or deer we’ll go to the same place, at the same time, with the same crew.

It’s a good thing if you’re nodding your head in agreement, as there’s usually a valid reason for following the same pattern. In some cases, opening day brings together more old classmates, teammates or family than a wedding or class reunion.

What I would offer is that, in addition to those traditions that we all cherish, push yourself to try something a little out of your comfort zone this fall.

Some suggestions?

While North Dakota will never draw the title of ruffed grouse capital of the world, we do have a couple areas in the north central and northeastern parts of the state where ruffed grouse roam our native forests. Mid-to-late October is prime time for hunting these woodland birds as the leaves are mostly off the trees by then and they are much more visible when flushed.

It’s a unique hunt in a couple of North Dakota’s underappreciated wooded habitats.

Hunts for sandhill cranes, wood ducks or even squirrels can all create new memories and maybe even spur a new routine in future years.

Personally, one of my more recent “new” endeavors was fishing on opening weekend of deer season. My work week leading up to the deer opener is busy and demanding, perhaps kind of like an accountant as the April tax deadline approaches.

I’m not complaining, but maybe the analogy helps you understand why on a Saturday afternoon during deer season I dropped off the kids with my mom, propped my rod along the banks of the Sheyenne River, caught a nap and sunburn and didn’t see a deer.

It was a chance for my kids to see grandma and I spent a little time literally basking in the glory of the outdoors. My point is, if you feel inclined to let loose a little, roll with the weather and the seasons.

If your local weather has kept blue-winged teal around a bit longer than usual, you won’t regret waking up with the sun in the local marsh.

Do me a favor if you find yourself roaming down a new path, let me know via email. I’d love to hear where you went and what you did.

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