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Don't close the door on deer hunting

As November advances, many hunters will mark the final filled deer license as closing the door on hunting season and beginning preparations for hard-water ice fishing or some other winter activity.

As November advances, many hunters will mark the final filled deer license as closing the door on hunting season and beginning preparations for hard-water ice fishing or some other winter activity.

As a kid I could always tell when Dad's deer season was done, as the basement hallway began a gradual transformation from a staging area for hunting equipment and clothing. Tip-ups and wax worms replaced blaze orange and binoculars as the seasons changed from fall to winter.

This not-so-subtle transition taught me to appreciate all parts of our outdoor activities. In recent years, however, I have learned there's no reason to close the door on hunting when the deer rifle season wraps up.

While I'm not an archery or muzzleloader hunter, thousands are. Here's a quick reminder that whitetail doe licenses are still available in several units. These licenses can be used during the muzzleloader season, which runs Nov. 30-Dec. 16, and also the archery season, which runs through Jan. 6.

While the regular deer gun season closes Nov. 25, when you add these licenses into the mix, many deer hunters will still have weeks of opportunity remaining. The only stipulation with these additional licenses is that hunters must stay in the unit to which the license is assigned.

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Past history has shown that the Game and Fish Department has sold nearly all of its available deer licenses the past few years. This is important in terms of deer management in North Dakota.

Late-season deer hunting can mean considerable obstacles in terms of weather and hunting conditions, but many muzzleloader hunters have realized the potential in adding a few more hunting trips after the regular gun season has closed.

While I'll admit the best waterfowl hunting seldom takes place in late November or early December, seasons are still open and in most years some ducks and geese are still around.

Now, don't hang me out to dry if you spend some late-season time hunting ducks and geese and find more snow flakes than waterfowl. Late-season hunts can be boom or bust depending on the day and the weather.

One key is to locate areas of open water and an exposed food source. That combination is essential in keeping birds from heading south. On the other hand, if your favorite area is snow covered and all water is frozen, the odds for finding huntable numbers of waterfowl aren't good.

Don't let that totally deter you, though. If you've got time and desire, scout some river areas that may still harbor some open water. You just never know what you might find when the door closes behind and you head out.

The bottom line is to not let the calendar fool you into thinking hunting season is over just yet.

Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov Leier's blog can be found online

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at www.areavoices.com Don't close the door on deer hunting Doug Leier 20071125

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