Spring turkey season is days and not weeks away. The turning of the calendar means you'll need a new 2009 fishing license, and snow geese continue to roll through the state.
The annual college basketball championship game and the first pitch of the Major League baseball season are close at hand. The first robins are already here, and across the state a lot of sump pumps have kicked in because of draining water from melting snow.
So it's a good time to run through some spring notes. Call it a bit of spring cleaning - outdoors style.
First, the spring snow goose season has been open since mid-February and remains open through May 10. Depending on what corner of the state you live in, you may have hunting opportunities available until the close. Even if you've seen the big migration of white geese push past you by, straggling flocks can be found, but it requires some scouting.
If you've yet to make it out, make sure you have either last fall's license, or a new 2009 license. Either way, all spring snow goose hunters will need the 2009 Harvest Information Program or HIP certification. Buying your license online will take you through the process, or call 888-634-4798 to register.
If you have friends or relatives from another state interested in hunting the spring season, they must have a 2009 nonresident spring light goose season license, which costs $50. This license is valid statewide for the entire spring season, and does not affect the eligibility to purchase a nonresident waterfowl hunting license for fall 2009. And a reminder of a couple regulation differences from the fall hunts:
• A federal waterfowl stamp is not required.
• Electronic and recorded calls, as well as shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, may be used to take light geese.
• Waterfowl rest areas designated for 2008 are not in effect during this season; however, private lands within a rest area may be posted.
The 2009 North Dakota spring turkey season runs April 11 through May 17. In addition to a turkey license, hunters will need a general game and small game stamp. If you buy the combination license you'll have all the needed paperwork for the hunt.
And finally, while North Dakota's fishing season never officially closes, a new license is required after April 1. A quick visit to the Department's website, gf.nd.gov, and a click the online services tab, gets you closer to your first cast.
Inevitably, each spring we hear angler concerns over the need for a closed season to protect spawning game fish. However, Game and Fish tracks fishing pressure and angler fish harvest at high interest areas such as Devils Lake, and creel surveys show that the overall health of the state's fisheries is not compromised by having a continuous season.
While people may see cases of many anglers in a small area, when the catch is considered over the entire body of water and throughout the year, fisheries managers are still comfortable with the current regulations.
Winter has seemed abnormally long, but that just means we'll enjoy spring even more. Even if hunting or fishing aren't to your liking, go for a hike across the prairie or just get out and soak in the penetrating golden rays of sun … because next winter will arrive soon enough.
Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org