State Century Code has defined hunting in North Dakota. Albeit for legal purposes, the definition is rather cumbersome, but NDCC20.1-01 and section 21 defines hunting as: shooting, shooting at, pursuing, taking, attempting to take, or killing any game animals and game birds; searching for or attempting to locate or flush any game animals and game birds; luring, calling or attempting to attract game animals and game birds; hiding for the purpose of taking or attempting to take game animals and game birds; and walking, crawling or advancing toward wildlife while possessing implement or equipment useful in the taking of game animals or game birds.â
The definition encompasses about every imaginable way to look at hunting. In the United States we've been afforded the right to keep and bear arms. You don't need a license to stop at the gun range and shoot targets. It's part of our Constitutional freedoms.
This legal verbiage used to define hunting gives the North Dakota Game and Fish Department the authority to manage wildlife and enforce associated regulations.
Why is this important? Because the definition of hunting for most North Dakota citizens implies a degree of hunting, such as going into the field with decoys, or walking a slough bottom with your dog and shotgun. You don't, however, have to shoot something to be hunting. It's the effort that counts.
I'll give you a personal example.
Sunday afternoons after deer season has closed, my kids and I will head off into the great unknown. We don't have any specific target -- open seasons such as pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse and furbearers provide an array of opportunity. The only sure thing is that we'll stop somewhere for a glass of chocolate milk and hamburger for the kids, and I'll sip a cup of hot coffee.
Along the way I'll get a chance to walk and the kids will get out and about--exploring and walking with me. Shooting, tagging, cleaning and bringing home game doesn't often fill out the equation, but we always have fun. When I take the field I have my shotgun, and am licensed according to the rules and regulations. When asked what we did, I say we went hunting.
Sure, we could just go for a walk without my gun, but if a pheasant flushes, I want a shot at it. During deer season I also want to make an attempt. It fits the legal definition and my own personal designation of hunting.
For some, hunting might imply getting a shot and I've even heard at times people suggest that unless you bring something home, how do you prove you were hunting? I'll save the argument of what constitutes success for another day. My point is, our Sunday afternoon strolls are hunting, and we need to adhere to the standards set fort by legal regulations and our ethical status as a hunter.
By ethical standards, even if it means going without a bird in the bag, we'll make sure to stay away from occupied farmsteads and ask for permission to hunt, even if the signs aren't signed and even many times we'll seek out permission on unposted property. There's no litter left behind and we give landowners the right-of-way when traveling down the road.
As a Game and Fish Department employee, hunter, parent and mentor to future generations, I want to make sure that the practice of hunting is never jeopardized by something I say, or do in the field.
Hunters owe it to their heritage to maintain the highest moral and ethical standards. We can take satisfaction for our contributions through license fees, excise taxes and personal efforts that have helped rebuild wildlife populations and preserve habitats forever.
But that's not enough.
Leier is a biologist for the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org