For many hunters November is a peak and valley, the best of times and the worst of times. As North Dakota's popular deer gun hunting season opens and closes, thousands of hunters begin and end their hunting activities within the 16 Â½ days the regular season takes place.
While most of the good duck, pheasant, goose and dove hunting occurs before the deer season, the back side of November doesn't have to be a let-down or disappoint to hunters. In fact, opportunities abound even with the close of deer season.
While the majority of pheasant hunters point toward late October and early Novembers as their preferred time frame for chasing roosters, a couple factors would give good reason to keep the shotgun handy deep into December.
First of all, when the opening high of the first few weeks of season wanes, congestion of hunters seems to decrease. The longer the season wears on, the fewer hunters you’ll see braving colder temperatures and more winter-type conditions.
While the roosters get very edgy, the point is, pheasant season in North Dakota runs through Jan. 7, and many hardy souls will milk every last day from the season.
The same goes for sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge, each providing quality hunting opportunities, but getting on top of birds late in the season can be a challenge.
One last note on upland game hunting. Many national wildlife refuges provide late season upland game hunting opportunities. Check with your local refuge office to obtain maps for specific open and closed areas for pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse.
Another all-too-often overlooked fall hunt involves turkeys. The fall turkey season extends until Jan. 14. Check the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov to see if fall 2006 turkey hunting licenses remain.
And don't forget late season Canada goose hunting. Providing that weather conditions haven't significantly worsened, early December goose hunting provided one last crack at giant Canada geese. Though cold, wind and snow can pose a significant obstacle, many hunters relish this opportunity.
Finally, the end of the regular deer gun season is not the end of deer hunting. Archery season extends to Jan. 7 and the muzzleloader season runs Dec. 1-16. If you were not fortunate enough to draw a muzzleloader license, if you have a second, third or any concurrent season doe tag, you can hunt during both the archery and muzzleloader open seasons, as long as you stay in the unit to which the license is assigned.
In some units, licenses may still be available.
Late November and early December don't have to be down times for hunters others wishing to spend a few more days outside. And don't worry if you’re burned out on hunting. Spearfishing opens Dec. 1 (except on Spiritwood Lake), and a few weeks of freezing weather may have you putting the shot gun away, and getting geared up for another winter of hard water fishing.
Leier is a biologist. He can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org