The Official Newspaper for Foster County

Articles written by Doug Leier


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  • North Dakota Outdoors: Frequently asked questions to the NDGF

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|Jul 8, 2024

    There's never enough time and space to cover all the common questions anglers have. Some are in-depth and the Department does its best to answer these questions via North Dakota OUTDOORS, videos, podcasts, all of which can be found for free on the Department's website at gf.nd.gov. Many topics warrant deep discussion such as size restrictions or trophy regulations. Others are short and simple, yes or no. Yes, you can fish with two lines during open water. No, you may not "help" someone else catc...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Bighorn sheep continue to thrive in North Dakota

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|Jul 1, 2024

    The fish and wildlife variety in North Dakota is truly impressive. From paddlefish and pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River, to trophy catfish and the recent repopulation of sturgeon in the Red River. We're home to mountain lions, moose and elk, also the unique furbearers including river otters, fishers, bobcats and American martens. While few outside of the state would recognize the variety, North Dakotans take pride in sharing the water and land with these unique residents. One of the more...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Working to reduce the bullhead population

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|Jun 24, 2024

    As a kid growing up in the 1980s, fishing was about opportunity. Thankfully, North Dakota forefathers set up most communities near a waterway for transportation and goods. For me it was less about necessity and more about my ability to ride a bike to the river where I was certain to catch a pike or perch, but most often it was a bullhead on the end of my hook. I wasn't a very good angler and not much has changed. I actually tried to fool myself and set myself goals on catching a whopper...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Changing technology and the outdoors

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|May 27, 2024

    Twenty years ago I wrote a column about technology. It was inspired by a walk through an early spring hunting and fishing expo. What I wrote then and what I'm thinking about today with forward-facing sonar and even more evolution really hasn't changed much at all has it? Think back to your last trip outdoors with friends. Chances are, somebody brought along a cell phone. Another buddy may have packed hand-held radios, and it wouldn't be surprising if someone had a GPS unit mounted on the pickup...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: A fishing license from the tap of an app? Yes

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|May 20, 2024

    When it comes to phone apps, I'll be the first to admit I'm not the next generation. I'm at best the past generation and hopefully not the lost generation. While I admit I do enjoy having access to all the Game and Fish Department information on my mobile device, I'm much more comfortable on my desktop and laptop if needed. In full transparency, I've yet to buy my hunting and fishing license on the official North Dakota Game and Fish Department app. Until right now. But like the rest of you, I'v...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: 2024 Paddlefish season preview

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|May 13, 2024

    A highlight of my early years with the Game and Fish Department as a district game warden was the variety of field-training opportunities. New wardens learn different required skills from seasoned wardens at stations literally in every corner of North Dakota. My primary training warden was Kurt Aufforth, who was stationed in Watford City at the time, and my weeks with him coincided with the paddlefish snagging season. A lot has changed since then. Kurt is retired and I'm a biologist in West Farg...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Explaining the deer lottery in N.D.

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|Apr 29, 2024

    There's just something to be said for consistency. Not just because I'm an old man and don't like change, either. Changing fishing regulations year to year and lake to lake can maximize management at the expense of confusion leading to angler frustration. Same with hunting. Case in point: In my years with Game and Fish I've seen deer license allocation range from a high of nearly 150,000 in 2008 and a low of 43,275 in 2015. The lottery system used to distribute the tags for the hunters is...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Learning more about North Dakota turkeys

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|Apr 22, 2024

    Do you think much about wild turkeys in North Dakota? If you're like me, when you see a turkey you call them out: "tom, jake, hen ... how many are there? Are they on private land? Where did they come from and where are they headed?" Game and Fish biologists wonder some of the same things, and with a five-year study and the cooperation of University of North Dakota, Department personnel put transmitters on 100 turkeys last winter, with the goal of fitting 115 birds with the same devices this wint...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Taking a closer look at N.D. game wardens

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|Apr 15, 2024

    The work of North Dakota game wardens is so much more than checking hunting and fishing licenses. The men and women wearing a badge and working the frontlines of game and fish law enforcement are the first called when a hunter has a question or a landowner is dealing with deer depredation. They're the individuals keeping personal watercraft operators safe while making sure poachers aren't taking more fish and wildlife than legally allowed. Each year Scott Winkelman, chief game warden, provides...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Helping wildlife is a long term commitment

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|Apr 8, 2024

    We live in a world of point, click, instant access and information. Patience is a rare commodity, but when it comes to hunting and fishing, it's not an option. Waiting for the right deer or the hot bite is as important as finding the right lure or spot. In the same way, maintaining, enhancing and growing wildlife populations like deer and pheasants is a long-term investment. It's not practical to think simply stocking fish or dumping food for wildlife is much more than a short-term feel good at...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Electronic posting for 2024 is open

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|Apr 1, 2024

    The spring snow goose conservation season opened up back in February and the spring turkey season is just a couple of weeks away. If you are a hunter, you need to make sure land your hunting is not physically or electronically posted. Landowners who missed the deadline last year or did not electronically post their land last year can still physically post their land at any time. It's an important and sometimes overlooked aspect of the electronic posting of land in North Dakota. Electronic...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Fishing is part of the quality of life

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish|Mar 18, 2024

    Growing up, living or even moving to North Dakota you understand the connection to the outdoors and how important fishing is to "quality of life." While each individual has their own unique factors which contribute to why we live here, the outdoors is part of it for some and more for others. When it comes to fishing there's nobody better than Greg Power, longtime fisheries division chief, to put it into context. What follows is his take on the topic: Recently, I read that even with all the...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Game and Fish Director Looking at 2024

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|Mar 4, 2024

    Every hunter, angler and trapper can assess their own past seasons and look forward to the challenges and opportunities of 2024. The director of North Dakota Game and Fish and division chiefs are tasked with understanding and guiding the vested interests of all from Cavalier to Carson, from Crosby to Cayuga. It's a challenge to say the least, but here's a look at some of the issues from Jeb Williams, Department director. Looking back on the past year We had a full six months of winter (2022-23)...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Training the next generation of hunters

    Doug Leier, North Dakota Game and Fish Biologist|Jan 29, 2024

    January 7 was the official end date for archery deer, pheasant, grouse, partridge and turkey seasons in North Dakota. While squirrel season is open through Feb 29, most of the hunting seasons are over. With spring snow goose officially opening in February and the spring turkey season opening April 13, I need to remind you the next round of hunter education classes begins when the last hunting seasons wrap up. State law requires anyone born after December 31, 1961, to pass a certified hunter...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: January 15, 2024

    Doug Leier, North Dakota Game and Fish Biologist|Jan 15, 2024

    The first time I felt safe enough to check the ice thickness was Thanksgiving weekend. It wasn't safe yet at 1.5 inches. A week later and it still wasn't. In early December we had 50-plus degree temperatures, making late season pheasant hunters and archery deer hunters smile. The ice anglers pumped their brakes and were frustrated having to wait even longer. The open water fishing in North Dakota in 2023 was record breaking according to Greg Power, fisheries division chief, and hard water...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: January 8, 2024

    Doug Leier, North Dakota Game & Fish Department Biologist|Jan 8, 2024

    The Endangered Species Act turned 50 in 2023 I can easily recall in the late 1980s seeing an endangered bald eagle feeding on a deer carcass off the road west of Napoleon in Logan County. Back in those days, if you saw a bald eagle and you could take a picture, you did. At the least you mentally marked the date, time and place and you made sure to phone it in. It was a big deal. While I'm still partial to the site of a bald eagle, it's become rather routine thanks to the amazing recovery of the...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Habitat is the key for a strong deer population

    Doug Leier, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Biologist|Nov 27, 2023

    My guess is that most deer hunters don't tire of the "Turdy Point Buck" tune on the radio until the backside of deer season. For a change, though, I'd sure enjoy listening to a refrain about hunting antlerless deer in North Dakota. Then again, doe hunting doesn't quite get the credit it deserves. In fact, when stories of deer seasons past bounce around like an empty pop can in the box of a pickup, odds are you won't hear many recollections about "the time Todd got that doe down in the slough bot...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: The long term impacts of ANS

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|Jul 10, 2023

    Since 1993 when the wet cycle began, the growing and maintaining aquatic habitat has been ... natural. If you are under the age of, say, 35 or 40, you've never known the impacts of lower water issues. Sure, we've had a few short-term drought interruptions during the wet cycle, but anyone who remembers the late 1980s and early 1990s will attest to the stark realities of a drought over years compared to months. This wet cycle helped maintain and grow the number of managed fisheries from under 200...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Understanding the lottery for N.D.

    Doug Leier, N.D. Game and Fish Biologist|May 8, 2023

    Where are the fishing biting? How are the deer numbers? Two of the most often asked questions I get. Along those same lines, the most popular licensing inquiry deals with the lottery and bonus points. Let’s establish from the start these are “bonus” points not any kind of “preference” point as some may think. The words and functionality are not the same. A preference would give more weight to each point. In the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s lottery system, no point is more important t...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: The importance of pollinators

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|Apr 24, 2023

    I've always appreciated the complexities of nature, including the connection of individual fish and wildlife species to food, water, space and where they call home. If you hunt upland game, the importance of grassland habitat and pollinators is mutual to game and hunters. Much of the information the North Dakota Game and Fish Department provides on these wildlife/habitat connections relates to species that are hunted, fished and trapped, because hunters, anglers and trappers provide the bulk of...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Get ready for Spring turkey season

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish|Apr 10, 2023

    While the appearance of an American robin, emergence of a crocus or the first pitch at spring training might signal to some that spring has arrive, the real spring season opens April 8 with the turkey season and continues through May 14. This year 7,142 spring turkey tags were available, just 235 fewer than last year with 22 units having more licenses available, eight with fewer and 11 remaining the same. Of note, unit 21 in Hettinger and Adams counties remains closed. While turkeys seem to get...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: 2023 spring snow goose season details

    Doug Leier, Biologist, N.D. Game and Fish Department|Mar 27, 2023

    I saw my first Canada goose of the year on a sunny Tuesday afternoon on February 7 about 4:30 p.m. Yes, I know the exact date and time as I texted a friend who spends more time outdoors than I do talking and writing about it. He confirmed that he spotted a few earlier in the day. While we understood we had more cold and snow to get through before spring arrived, we also knew the spring conservation season for light geese (no Canada geese are allowed) official opening day was near. Before the...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Proper release of a fish important any time

    Doug Leier|Mar 20, 2023

    If you don’t fish, what I’m about to say won’t sound logical: Catch-and-release isn’t always the best choice for fishing. What? The short answer is when you catch and release a fish and the fish doesn’t end up surviving, then releasing a fish back into the water can do more harm than good. Stay with me. For most situations, catch-and-release remains a tried-and-true approach to long term fisheries conservation. The practice of catching the fish, followed by a quick and healthy release, will keep...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Mid-winter news and notes

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish Department|Jan 30, 2023

    Late January is sometimes considered a time when not much is going on in North Dakota’s outdoors. But this year with new boat registrations coming in and the state legislature in session, it’s a busy time at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Here’s a recap of a few news items from recent weeks or so that still warrant consideration. Legislative Session With the North Dakota Legislature convening the first week of January, the Game and Fish Department set up its website page to track...

  • North Dakota Outdoors: Ice fishing impacts on fish

    Doug Leier, Biologist, North Dakota Game and Fish|Jan 23, 2023

    We’ve seen it before. A few ice shelters can turn into a city literally overnight. Winter anglers travel from every corner of the state – some from a few states away – at the report of a hot walleye, perch or crappie bite. Anglers wonder if the fishery can withstand the pressure? I remind myself growing up, a hot perch bite wasn’t guarded by limits. That’s correct. There was a time as recently as the mid-1980s when North Dakota didn’t have a daily limit on perch. Fast forward with more waters...

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