Matters of Opinion
When you read through the 2019 hunting season outlook in this issue of North Dakota OUTDOORS, there is plenty of good news.
Without giving it all away, some of what we know heading into the fall hunting season is an increase of more than 10,000 licenses for the deer gun season compared to 2018.
While there are a number of things that must align, including assistance from Mother Nature and quality wildlife habitat on the landscape, deer gun licenses are heading in the direction hunters like to see.
In 2015, the Game and Fish Department made available only 43,275 deer licenses, the lowest total since 1978. The climb from that low (49,000 in 2016, 54,500 in 2017 and 55,150 in 2018) has been slow, but encouraging, nonetheless.
Also, North Dakota’s pronghorn population is estimated to be the highest in nearly a decade, providing more hunting opportunities, in more hunting units, for hunters.
Additionally, the forecast for the fall flight of ducks from North Dakota this year is expected to be up from last year, while numbers for Canada and snow geese remain high.
In the category of more good news, Kevin Kading, Department private land section leader, reports that acre numbers in the Department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program also continue to increase.
The number of acres in this popular walk-in access program has climbed the last few years from about 730,000 acres in 2015 to 762,000 acres in 2018.
Approximately 791,000 acres will be available to hunters this year as we head into fall.
The Game and Fish Department’s private land staff, and the many landowners around the state who willingly participate in the PLOTS program, should be applauded.
That additional 30,000 acres is certainly good news for hunters. And continuing this trend of maintaining the highest amount of quality habitat in the program as possible is the Department’s aim.
By the time this message hits the hands of readers, many hunters will have already dirtied their hunting boots in pursuit of North Dakota’s early fall opportunities, while waiting for other hunting seasons to open.
Fall, depending on who you talk to, is arguably the best time of year in North Dakota. The opportunities are many for those who enjoy the outdoors, hunting birds and big game, or fishing our open waters that are promised to ice over in weeks to come.
North Dakota is a special place that just seems to be at its best in fall. Having enjoyed my share over the years, I encourage you to sample, with family or friends, North Dakota’s great outdoors in the coming days.