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Photographing the outdoors is always in season, and national statistics show watchable wildlife and photography is enjoyed by millions.

From the end of the spring turkey and snow goose seasons until the mid-August early Canada goose opener, North Dakotans find themselves in a stretch of about three months with no game bird season open.

While some hunters take to shooting activities such as sporting clays or honing their archery skills, there’s an option for “shooting” North Dakota’s outdoors with anything from an old flip phone or modern smartphone to a high-grade professional camera. Photographing the outdoors is always in season, and national statistics show watchable wildlife and photography is enjoyed by millions. Don’t believe me? Don’t think you fit the definition?

If you’ve ever stopped and watched a young fawn wobbling on new legs, or gazed in amazement at a hummingbird flitting from flower to flower, or taken a moment to appreciate any of North Dakota’s vast array of game or nongame wildlife, count yourself part of the watchable wildlife family.

As you spend time camping, fishing, hiking and exploring the North Dakota outdoors, here’s a reminder that the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest for 2019 is now accepting entries. This is an annual photo contest that actually got its start 30 years ago as a promotion for the state’s nongame wildlife tax checkoff.

Winning photos are displayed on the department's website and in the January issue of North Dakota Outdoors, the department's monthly magazine.

The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as for plants/insects. An overall winning photograph is chosen, along with a number of place winners in each category.

Here’s some other particulars:

● Photos must have been taken in North Dakota.

● Submission deadline: Oct. 1.

● Submission format: Only digital files will be accepted. Files must be png, jpg, jpeg, or pdf. Digital submissions can be either original digital photographs, or scans made from prints or slides/transparencies. Photographers will need to supply the original image if needed for publication.

● Entry limits: No more than five total entries per contestant.

● Submissions: Photos must be submitted online through the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

● All entries must be accompanied by the photographer’s name, phone number and email address. Other information such as photo site location and month taken can be entered into the comment box provided.

By submitting an entry, photographers grant permission to Game and Fish to publish winning photographs in North Dakota Outdoors and on the department’s website, as well as on the agency's social media channels.

Game and Fish will notify winning photographers by Dec. 1.

There’s something to be said for the beauty of the Badlands, the rolling hills of the coteau, the lake-bottom flats of the Red River Valley and the vast array of wildlife species with which we share our all-too-short summer. Taking a few shots to appreciate and share the sights is a great addition to any outdoor exploration.

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Doug Leier is a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

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