By the time North Dakota’s deer gun season ends late next month, nearly 100,000 state residents will have hung a “Gone Hunting” sign on their front door at least once during the fall season.

That’s enough to fill up the Fargodome nearly five times, but all of us hunters are fortunate that we don’t all try to gather at the same location, or even the same geographic region, at the same time.

While many of us can find acceptable comfort for a few hours in one of the state’s many sporting venues, seated elbow-to-elbow watching a high school or college competition, hunters fan out to all corners of the state on weekends, hoping for a very different experience.

Most of us seek a relative lack of competition and a big enough piece of ground that we can call our own space for at least part of a day. We don’t even need to bring something home to call the day a success, but certainly that’s part of the objective.

Reasons for hunting have evolved over the years. Personally, I’ve found there’s something to be said for a few hours of working up a sweat, quenching your thirst with prairie air in the lungs and the sweet smell of ripe cattails. We all have our own devices to help keep us balanced, and, for legions of hunters, the common denominator is being out in the “sticks,” or the open countryside.

That, plus familiar companions, the drive to and from wherever it is you’re headed, breakfast at the same cafe, recollections about past hunts and anticipation of the future come together as part of a tradition that is much more about the whole experience than it is about individual parts.

Some hunters achieve this is in one weekend a fall, others spend every available minute out scouting, hunting or traveling. Most of us, in one way or another, are pursuing more than a daily limit.

North Dakota is still a state in which hunting is understood and appreciated. We can’t assume this will never change, and we as hunters need to stay vigilant and continue to impress upon others the important role of hunting and conservation, not only for North Dakota, but the states around us as well.

For this general overall positive outlook to continue, it’s important for hunters to foster positive landowner-hunter relations. Simple awareness to not intentionally block roads or approaches with parked vehicles, and picking up trash perhaps left by someone else, goes a long way. There are many other dos and don’ts on the list, but most revolve around simple common sense and courtesy.

While some wildlife populations aren’t as high as they once were, a day outdoors in a North Dakota fall is still one of the best seats in the stadium.

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