Soren Butler captured an unprecedented fifth state championship at the Minot Rifle and Pistol Club Indoor Range last Sunday. The 17-year-old marksman from Casselton repeatedly pierced bullseyes to score a 566 of a possible 600. Butler followed that effort with a gold medal performance in the Sectional competition.
"He won his first state match when he was 10 years old," said Wes Thomas, Minot Rifle and Pistol Club. "He will be attending the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on a partial shooting scholarship."
Dakota Faught of Amenia won the Junior Division with a 545. Runner-up was Rebecca Martin of Emerado with a 515. Tops among the Intermediate Juniors was Joseph Martin, Emerado, with a 555 of a possible 600. Kohl Klein, Bismarck, was second with a 527. The Sub-Junior class went to Mari Butler, Casselton, with a 521. She was followed by Lana Fairbanks, Bismarck, who shot a 505.
Submitted Photo - - Wes Thomas, left, Minot Rifle and Pistol Club, presents Soren Butler, Casselton, with his record fifth state championship in Junior Shooting.
Junior shooting programs are conducted regularly at facilities in Minot, Bismarck, Grand Forks and Buffalo. Minot's junior shooting program is held each Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at noon.
"Come on out and take a look. If it's for you, it's an easy time to jump in," said Thomas. "The cost is minimal. Junior shooting numbers have basically been steady across the state. We'd like to see more places open up, like Williston and Dickinson."
Instruction, shooting suits, firearms and targets are all supplied to junior shooters at the Minot Rifle and Pistol Club.
Licensing down for spring gobblers
BISMARCK North Dakota's turkey population has been higher, but there's still enough of the big birds roaming the state to provide spring gobbler hunters with some excitement. Camouflage-clad hunters will grab their calls and head for their favorite spots for the opener April 14.
The Game and Fish Department announced a reduction in the number of spring turkey tags this year, down 925 from a year ago. In all, 5,795 turkey tags were available for 22 hunting units. Ten units have fewer tags than in 2011. Unit 21, in Hettinger and Adams counties, remains closed due to a lack of turkeys.
Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor, recently returned from the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville, Tenn. While there he participated in informational sessions with other biologists from both state and federal levels.
"The folks from South Carolina have a tough time understanding turkeys up here," Kohn said. "They've just got so much cover down there. They hunt turkeys everywhere. They can't imagine our northern climate up here and that turkeys exist."
Wild turkeys are generally a woodland bird, but they have shown an ability to adapt to North Dakota. Understandably, they do best in wooded land such as along creek and river drainages. Three species of turkeys have been introduced into North Dakota - the Eastern, Merriams and Rio Grande. However, they may not all be distinguishable today.
"I suspect there's been a lot of interbreeding and there's probably no real clean birds except for Slope, Bowman and Golden Valley counties in the southwest corner of the state," Kohn said. "They look to be pretty clean yet with Merriam characteristics."
Merriams are the breed found in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, but all three sub-species have done well in North Dakota.
"They're pretty tough. We generally don't see much winter mortality. They are real adaptable," Kohn said.
Turkeys generally start nesting by mid-April. If there is snow on the ground the hens will hollow out bowls in the snow, line them with nearby materials and feathers, and lay their eggs. Like many other birds, weather conditions during and after the hatch is a critical time for survival of the young.
"In that hatching period of May and June they kind of need to stay warm and dry," Kohn said. "In the couple of weeks after the hatch the chicks are susceptible to the wet and cold."
The deadline for applying for a spring turkey license was Feb. 15. However, those applicants who missed the deadline will likely have a second opportunity to obtain a license.
"I suspect, in some units, we probably will have extra licenses," Kohn said. "For the first time ever for spring licenses a person can have a second tag this year. After the first round of the license drawing is held, it will be first-come, first-served for any unit with second tags."
Kohn did not have a date for when "second chance" licenses, if any, will be available. That notice is expected to come from the department's licensing division following the processing of initial applications received by the Feb. 15 deadline.
New 2012-14 fishing regulations set
North Dakota's 2012-14 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2014. In addition, anglers are reminded that new fishing licenses are required April 1.
Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the northern pike daily and possession limits are increased to five and 10 statewide. "The intent is to provide more of an opportunity for those anglers who like to fish for and keep pike," Power said. "This will not affect the population because the pike fishery is in excellent shape. We have a record number of lakes with pike, many with record populations. Pike anglers should be happy the next few years."
Another noteworthy change involves opening most waters to darkhouse spearfishing, except for a small number of lakes that contain muskie. "The merits of different criteria were closely assessed, and the existence of muskie was the only criteria used to exclude a lake," Power said. "We have not observed any significant problems in the past 10 years, and biologically speaking there should be few, if any, in the future."
Lakes where darkhouse spearfishing is not allowed are Braun Lake, Emmons County; New Johns Lake, Burleigh County; East Park Lake, West Park Lake and Lake Audubon, McLean County; McClusky Canal; Heckers Lake, Sheridan County; Red Willow Lake, Griggs County; Sweet Briar Dam, Morton County; and the Red and Bois de Sioux rivers.
Other noteworthy regulation changes include:
Added Sundays for snag-and-release only during the paddlefish season.
Added a 14-inch walleye length restriction to six lakes in southeast North Dakota Alkali Lake, Buffalo Lake and Tosse Slough in Sargent County; and Lake Elsie, Lueck Lake and West Moran Lake in Richland County.
Increased the minimum harvest length of a muskie to 48 inches.
Added Mott Watershed in Hettinger County and Nelson Lake in Oliver County to the list of "no live baitfish" lakes.
Eliminated the 24-inch minimum length restriction for northern pike at North and South Golden lakes in Steele County.
Fishing licenses can be purchased March 1 at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. The 2012-14 North Dakota Fishing Guide will be available in March at Game and Fish Department offices and license vendors throughout the state.
Wardens group offers scholarship
The North Dakota Game Wardens Association has a $300 scholarship available for a graduating high school senior entering college in fall 2012 who enrolls in fisheries or wildlife management with an emphasis on law enforcement. Applicants must be North Dakota residents and have maintained a 3.25 grade point average. The scholarship will be awarded to the student upon proof of enrollment in college.
Applications are available by contacting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at 328-6604; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications must be postmarked no later than May 4, 2012.
Updates released on snow geese
North Dakota spring light goose hunters can track general locations of geese as birds make their way through the state during the upcoming spring season.
Hunters are able to call 328-3697 to hear recorded information 24 hours a day. Migration reports are also posted on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Updates will be provided periodically during the week as migration events occur, until the season ends or geese have left the state.
North Dakota's spring light goose season opens Feb. 18 and continues through May 6. Season information, including licensing requirements and regulations, are also available by accessing the Game and Fish website.
Hunter ed helpers earn recognition
Volunteer instructors for North Dakota's hunter education program were recognized Feb. 11 for their contributions of teaching students the importance of hunter safety and ethics.
Instructor of the year and years of service awards were presented at the annual hunter education workshop and awards banquet held in Bismarck.
Larry Thompson of Dickinson and Dale Patrick from Bismarck were named instructors of the year.
Among those recognized for 35 years of service was Steven Seeger, Turtle Lake. Included in the 30-year service awards was Lori Schweigert, Beulah.
Area instructors presented with 25-year service awards included Darwin Bucholz, Rolla; Thomas Kempf, Sawyer; Scott Mitchell, Rolla; Michael Peterson, Hazen; Lauren Throntveit, Crosby and Curtis Wittmayer, Parshall.
Among those honored for 20 years of service were James Borkowski, Bottineau; Gary Ertmann, Devils Lake; Craig Hoffart, Bottineau; Ruth Hubbard, Minot; James R. Johnson, New Rockford; Lynn Lawler, Rolla; Richard Leshovsky, Velva and Daryl Simmons, Garrison.
Those recognized for 15 years of service included Larry Brooks, Bottineau; Doyle Johannes, Underwood; Joe Lautenschlager, Berthold; Marty Liesener, Ray; Mike Rieger, Minot and Scott Sigette, Devils Lake.
Ten-year service awards were presented to area instructors Harold Capaci, Minot; Wesley Crosby, Williston; Connie Jorgenson, Devils Lake; Jackie Martin, Anamoose; Michael Melaas, Minot; Ronald Swenson, Williston and Lavern Vance, Ray.
Five-year active instructors recognized included Dorian Anderson, Drake; Jeff Ball, Des Lacs; Sean Benzmiller, Burlington; David Blocker, Mohall; Mark Crosby, Bowbells; Terrance Estvold, Devils Lake; Mike Graue, Devils Lake; Amanda Johnson, Minnewaukan; Timothy Nelson, Harvey; Brent Nettleton, Burlington; Todd Olson, Mohall and Torrie Vader, Williston.
The list of those recognized for two years of service included Josh Beaudoin, Minot; Eric Crimmins, McClusky; Lori Deal, Carrington; Kendon Faul, McClusky; Antonie Fettig, New Town; Brian Johnson, Sawyer; Tom Nowatzki, Bottineau; Larry Romyns, Glenburn and Cherri Weyrauch, Watford City.