The ND Deer Opener

For many North Dakota deer hunters, the opener is an “unofficial holiday,” a day that get’s marked off as a vacation day as soon as the next year’s calendar comes out.

It’s just the opposite for many of us at the State Game and Fish Department. Like hotel employees in the city that is hosting the State Class B boys basketball tournament, keeping things running smoothly is the priority, even if you’d like to go to the games.

This isn’t good or bad. It’s just the nature of the business. In fact, one of the first points I make when discussing careers in the natural resource field is that the exciting hunting and fishing periods are often the busiest time of the year for Game and Fish workers.

Of course, those of us who have to work can take vacation or scheduled days off later in the season, but on opening day our job is to help enhance the experience for the many thousands who are out in the field. Logistics dictates that we can’t always help everyone right away, but we do our best to take care of business so hunters can get out there get out there and start making those memories that will be made across the state throughout the 16 ½-day regular deer gun season.

For many hunters, those memories begin with friends and family, old places and new hunts equally mixed. Even members of your own hunting party there might have different reasons for the hunt

A nice doe or small buck will provide jerky and sausage rings. A few good walks, or an evening sitting at the rock pile on which you’ve sat and closed the door on a day’s hunt for decades, might be a time to reflect on the past year, problems or blessings and the coming issues of work and family. It’s amazing how many problems are solved and solutions realized with a few minutes outdoors. And for many, deer season may be the only window to the outdoors this fall.

Personally, like many of my coworkers and the rest of you who will not be wearing blaze orange on Nov. 5, I’ll carve out a few windows of opportunity to head out deer hunting with my son sometime before the close of the 2010 season on Nov. 21.

Even that might not be the end of it for some of you. If you have a second, third or concurrent season license and you don’t fill it tag during the rifle season, it remains valid for the muzzleloader season running Nov. 26 - Dec. 12 as long as you are using a legal muzzleloading firearm.

Those licenses are also good through the end of archery season on Jan. 2 as long as you use archery equipment.

All concurrent season licenses are valid for only the species and sex indicated on the license, and the hunter must stay in the designated unit.

The tug to get me out there is part history and also a look toward the future. Each year I relive memories of hunts with my Dad, and look forward to creating lasting memories with, and for, my own children.

Stay safe and enjoy the 2010 deer season.

Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: