Deer hunters cautioned to stay off early ice
North Dakota State Game and Fish Department officials are cautioning deer hunters to be wary of where they hunt. Late-season weather conditions can quickly cause North Dakota's small and mid-sized waters to ice over, giving the appearance of safe ice.
Nancy Boldt, department boat and water safety coordinator, said hunters should be cautious of walking on frozen stock ponds, sloughs, creeks and rivers.
"Ice can form overnight, causing unstable conditions," Boldt said. "Even though deer might be able to make it across, it doesn't mean hunters can."
Ice thickness is not consistent, Boldt said, as it can vary significantly within a few inches. Hunters walking the edge of a cattail slough will not find the same ice thickness in the middle.
"The edges firm up faster than the center," she added. "So, with your first step the ice might seem like it is strong enough, but it isn't anywhere near solid enough once you progress away from the shoreline."
And in the case of snowfall, Boldt cautions hunters to be aware of snow-covered ice. Snow insulates ice, inhibiting solid ice formation, and makes it difficult to check thickness. Snow also hides cracked, weak and open water areas.
"Basically, if there is ice formation during the deer season, stay away from it," Boldt said. "It will not be safe."
Lake Sakakawea State Park hosts wheelchair hunt
Wheelchair-bound hunters will take to the field at Lake Sakakawea State Park Nov. 17-18, for the park's 11th annual Wheelchair Hunt. The park will be closed, including the campgrounds and trail systems, from sundown Nov. 16 through sundown Nov. 18. Park staff will be in the office during the weekend to answer any questions.
The hunt is open to people permanently confined to a wheelchair. Due to the nature of the hunt and preparations to set up blinds to meet the individual needs of each hunter, those wishing to participate must contact the park. Participation is limited.
For more details about the hunt, call Lake Sakakawea State Park at 487-3315.
Upland bird hunt to open on Audubon NWR
Monday, Nov. 26, marks the opening day for hunting pheasants, grouse and partridge on Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. Hunters can expect fairly good numbers of birds, as North Dakota's roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August suggested much-improved production this past spring, meaning more young birds added to the population and a better fall population in all areas of the state.
Hunters can access special refuge regulations at the Visitor Center, Information Kiosk, or online. There are three "no hunting" zones on the refuge, non-toxic shot is required, and hunters must park at the refuge boundary or in a designated visitor parking area. All refuge hunting is walking access only. The use of dogs is encouraged. The upland game bird season at Audubon NWR will close Jan. 6, 2013.
The Audubon Refuge Partners Volunteer Group will be serving snacks and lunch in the visitor center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. opening day. Hunters are invited to stop in and support the group, pick up free pheasant recipes, browse in the exhibit hall and visit with other hunters. All proceeds will be used for educational programs for youth and adults.