Answers vary depending on circumstances

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
In places where birds are plentiful, particularly for pheasants, it’s usually harder to find access to private land and public areas have high traffic.

Even though I couldn’t squeak more than a “C” out of college calculus, I’ve always enjoyed thinking through complex questions. It’s the easy ones that sometimes seem to trip me up.

And in my position as a State Game and Fish Department outreach biologist, and as a district game warden before that, I get a lot of questions.

While many of the daily questions aren’t complicated, I still enjoy working through those that require consideration of “what-if” scenarios, and then double-checking the possible answers with wardens and biologists.

Questions about gratis licenses and trespassing can follow an array of winding paths depending on the circumstances, and along the way to providing a clear answer, I learn the legal and biological facts and am better able to answer future inquiries.

You might be a bit surprised that some of the more difficult questions to answer fall along the lines of “where’s a good place to go pheasant hunting?” or “do you know where the ducks are?” or “can you suggest a good place to find a quality deer?”

At first glance these questions seem pretty vanilla. But more often than not, when you really consider the possible answers, they are questions of the “loaded” variety that often result in a can’t-win situation.

It’s not so much that I don’t know the location of good hunting spots – or good fishing spots for that matter.

The challenge comes in determining the caller’s expectations. My first answer is often another question, something like “well, what sort of experience are you looking for?”

Say for example I give an approximate or even a GPS location to any or all of these inquiries. My interpretation of a good spot to hunt pheasants might be considered a poor spot for other hunters. If that happens, after the hunt, the blame is on me for suggesting it.

Each person’s expectations of quality or good develop over years of experience. Think about it for a minute. For me, if I just see a few roosters on a pheasant hunting outing, that’s a good day. Most hunters would at least want a shot or two. Others might be satisfied only by seeing a hundred birds and getting a limit. Still others are disappointed in anything less than a limit in an hour.

The other factor that comes into play is access. In places where birds are plentiful, particularly for pheasants, it’s usually harder to find access to private land, and public areas have high traffic.

If someone wants to see a lot of birds and I send them to county X, without explaining that they could spend a lot of time going from place to place seeking permission, or sharing public places with other groups, they may not be happy customers.

Or how about if I decide I’ll provide the directions to my secret spot and you stop and knock on the door and ask permission, and the landowner thinks “that Doug Leier is sending hunters down to my way. I get enough interruption at supper the way it is. I don’t need him adding to it.”

I think most people who inquire about hunting or fishing spots are hoping for someone to touch a penpoint to a map or a computer screen, and say “go here.”

Usually, however, it’s much more complicated than that … kind of like calculus vs. simple math.

I can say for certain that the daily limit for rooster pheasants is three. But where best to go to shoot a limit? That’s not so cut-and-dried.

By Doug Leier

NDGF Outreach Biologist

Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: