Signs of spring honestly began weeks ago. For me, the first bald eagle pairs setting up their nests in February is proof that winter is losing its grip, and this year the turn of March brought unseasonably mild and record-breaking temperatures.
The annual college basketball championship game and the first pitch of the Major League baseball season are close at hand. The first robins are already here, and across the state a lot of sump pumps have kicked in because of draining water from the frost going out.
These telltale signs of the changing of seasons are also a reminder that it’s time to move on from one hunting and fishing season to another, as all 2014-15 hunting, fishing and trapping licenses expire on March 31.
That means anyone who is going to continue hunting spring light geese after March 31, or hunting or trapping furbearers, a new license is needed April 1.
It’s anybody’s guess as to whether any snow geese will remain in North Dakota after April 1, as they were rapidly funneling into the state in mid-March.
The spring light goose season remains open through May 17, and depending on where in the state you live, you may have hunting opportunities available until the close. Even if you’ve seen the big migration of white geese push by, straggling flocks can be found, but it requires some scouting.
In addition to a new license on April 1, all spring snow goose hunters need the 2015 Harvest Information Program or HIP certification. Buying your license online will take you through the process, or call 888-634-4798 to register.
If you have friends or relatives from another state interested in hunting the spring season, they must have a 2015 nonresident spring light goose season license, which costs $50. This license is valid statewide for the entire spring season, and does not affect the eligibility to purchase a nonresident waterfowl hunting license for fall 2015.
And a reminder of a couple regulation differences from the fall hunts:
- A federal waterfowl stamp is not required.
- Electronic and recorded calls, as well as shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, may be used to take light geese.
- Waterfowl rest areas designated for 2008 are not in effect during this season; however, private lands within a rest area may be posted.
Spring turkey hunters also need a new license when they take to the field starting April 11. In addition to a turkey license, hunters will need the general game and small game licenses. If you buy the combination license, you’ll have all the needed paperwork for the hunt.
And finally, while North Dakota’s fishing season never officially closes, a new license is required starting April 1. A quick visit to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, and a click the online services tab, gets you closer to your first cast.
Even if hunting or fishing aren’t to your liking, go for a hike across the prairie or just get out and soak in the penetrating golden rays of sun … because next winter will arrive soon enough.