Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

have you read?

The 2018 August/September  North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find ND Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand’s column Matters Of Opinion inside the cover. Last year at this time there were a number of unknowns heading into the fall hunting season.

The unknowns centered around the fallout for North Dakota’s wildlife, pheasants and other upland game birds in particular, following difficult, snowy conditions in early winter and drought in spring and summer.


2018 Hunting Season Outlook

A year ago, and for good reason, talk centered mostly on the return of drought conditions to North Dakota.

While the spigot seemed to turn on a bit in August, it was too late for much of the state’s small grains and pastures. The lack of precipitation early in spring and summer left its mark. It was pretty clear what the dry conditions meant for agriculture producers, yet the uncertainty was the influence drought would have on North Dakota’s most popular upland game bird, the ring-necked pheasant.

Ron Wilson PLOTS Program Update  Private Land Open To Sportsmen, the Game and Fish Department’s well-known walk-in access program turned 20 in 2017. With that considerable milestone in the rearview mirror, Kevin Kading, Game and Fish private land section leader, addresses the status of the program today, and possible changes to make the program more attractive to landowners and hunters in the future.


Have you read? July ND Outdoors magazine

The 2018 July  North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find ND Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand’s column Matters Of Opinion inside the cover.

In summer 1993, things changed. And as many of us in North Dakota remember, we were certainly ready for change.In July of that year, a month that still remains the wettest month in our state’s recorded history, the heavens opened up and kicked off what would be the end of a 5-year drought.


Communications Supervisor Craig Bihrle continues on with  Diary of a Wet Cycle

Priority Lakes came about after an honest assessment of what 5 years of drought had done to the state’s fishing resources. Of about 180 fishing waters in the state at the time, Game and Fish was going to focus its efforts on 60 of them, “…until water levels return to normal.”

Ron Wilson Back Cast gives his personal perspective on the change in North Dakota landscape from 25 years ago.

It’s been said that bashing the weather is a waste of words, considering many of us couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change now and again.


The 2018 May North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.


Ron Wilson explains how the extended winter resulted in a Northern Pike Spawn Delayed

When North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists set trap nets in Lake Oahe in spring for the northern pike spawn, they were as late to the game as they’d been in years.


Ron also authored the story on Deer Gun Applications go Electronic  A law passed by the North Dakota Legislature requiring the Department to develop an all-electronic licensing system, and phase out the old paper license books, actually went into effect April 1, 2016.


The North Dakota State Water Commission explains the history and transition of lowhead dams and how State Agencies Work Together To Eliminate “Drowning Machines”


One of the unintentional consequences that materialized is that these lowhead dams created dangerous conditions that recreational river users may not be aware of or may underestimate.


Have You Read? March-April Outdoors magazine

have you read?

The 2018 March-April North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE onlineright now here.

Leading off the issue is Director Terry Steinwand’s Matters of Opinion While an inconvenience for anyone traveling or clearing sidewalks and driveways, the heavy, wet snows that fell on much of the state in March were welcome.

North Dakota’s fishing opportunities today are many. With a record number of lakes across the state that hold, in some instances, robust fish populations, the precipitation was needed.

Greg Power, fisheries division chief explains, The Value Of Fishing

Have you ever wondered why the diamond on a ring may cost $10,000 or more, yet it has no material utility other than to shine? Or why a teaspoon of salty fish eggs may run $100, even if the majority of people would prefer nothing more than just the cracker on which the eggs are served?

Ron Wilson, North Dakota Outdoors editor, this months examines the history of the “Whopper Club” with his Look Back column.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials unveiled the Whopper Club program to anglers nearly 60 years ago.

Is it fair to say that Department heads in 1960 didn’t envision this program to still be swimming upstream with purpose in 2018?

have you read?

The 2018 February North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

Leading off the issue is an important feature on the licensing transition: Applying online for lottery licenses for North Dakota game species, such as deer and wild turkeys, is nothing new to many people. Yet, as Game and Fish Department officials embrace a long-range plan to phase out paper applications, there will likely be some questions. What follows are a number of questions and answers to help people with possible uncertainties about the process.


Ty Stockton writes a feature on Productive Prairie Lakes

Fishing in North Dakota has never been better. The state boasts 22 species of game fish and 449 bodies of water where anglers can wet a line.


Ron Wilson North Dakota Outdoors editor captures the birthday of the magazine with this month’s Backcast

In late summer 1931, the first issue of North Dakota OUTDOORS was published and made available to the public. If you do the math, that means the magazine turned 87 this year. Not a milestone, certainly. Just a point of interest.


have you read? November Outdoors Magazine

The 2017 November North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

North Dakota Game  and Fish Director Terry Steinwand  writes Matters of Opinion  

Over the last 10 years I’ve been involved in an event called Hunting Dakota with Roosevelt. The event was created by some very civic-minded individuals who loved to hunt and also had a goal in mind to honor those who served, or do serve, in the military, while at the same time raising funds for the much-deserving Bismarck Cancer Center.

Ron Wilson North Dakota Outdoors editor with a feature on the Partnership to Benefit Ruffed Grouse, Other Wildlife

Hunting ruffed grouse in North Dakota’s Turtle Mountains is as much about the gorgeous forested country that shoulders up against Canada as it is about the native birds.

The plan is to manipulate 15 acres of state forest land over the next two years.

In fall, when the grouse are in season and have long since moved on from an entertaining spring courtship initiated by drumming males, the woodlands transform from greens to head-turning reds and yellows. A hike in the woods, with or without a grouse in the game bag, is a treat as temperatures cool and the days shorten.

North Dakota Outdoors editor Ron Wilson highlights the coming winter fishing with  Prairie Walleye Lakes, Pike Highlighting Winter Fishing Forecast

There are no guarantees when it comes to ice fishing in North Dakota.

Considering the uncertainties of the weather, and how it influences freeze-up and access, anglers really never know how things are going to play out.

Last year, following a mild November, December bared its teeth in parts of the state with record snowfall and cold temperatures. Access to many waters was difficult or worse.

have you read?

The 2017 October North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

North Dakota Game  and Fish Director Terry Steinwand  writes Matters of Opinion  

It’s a busy time of year in North Dakota’s outdoors.

By the time this magazine is printed and mailed to subscribers, the echoes of the first shotgun blasts, signaling the state’s pheasant opener, will have faded.

I’m hoping that hunters went in to the pheasant season with reasonable expectations, considering bird numbers are down in many areas following a difficult winter, drought and an altered landscape.

Ron Wilson North Dakota Outdoors editor with a feature on the Partnership to Benefit Producers, Wildlife

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has partnered with Pheasants Forever and four county soil conservation districts to help producers farm more efficiently and profitably by offering conservation practices on less gainful crop acres.According to a Pheasants Forever news release, the foundation of the precision agriculture planning partnership is built on the technology of AgSolver’s Profit Zone Manager software platform, which focuses on the producer’s return-on-investment.

North Dakota Outdoors editor Ron Wilson examines the biology of Managing Sakakawea’s Salmon Populaton


There are 1.5 million reasons fisheries biologists will slowly navigate Lake Sakakawea’s shallow waters this month.

That’s roughly the number of chinook salmon eggs North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel aim to collect to produce hundreds of thousands of smolts that, months later, will be released back into the big lake.

Last fall, for example, biologists spawned 683 mature females and collected nearly 1.8 million eggs. After sharing some with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, fisheries biologists here stocked about 430,000 salmon smolts into Sakakawea in 2017.

Have You Read? Aug-Sept Outdoors Magazine

The 2017 August-September  North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

North Dakota Game  and Fish Director Terry Steinwand  writes Matters of Opinion  

Where has summer gone? That’s probably the most frequently asked question I’ve fielded of late.

Considering that there are still 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and so on, this summer isn’t any shorter than those in the past.

I have a theoretical, and somewhat psychological answer to the question, though. Based on last winter’s weather, specifically a six-week stretch from late November to early January, we thought we’d have flooding and wet conditions once again. While there was flooding in some areas of the state, like Belcourt, overall flooding did not occur as anticipated.


Jeb Williams Chief of Wildlife and his staff have an overview of the 2017 Hunting Season Outlook

Most North Dakotans will remember 2017 as a time when drought returned to the state.

North Dakota is well known for wild weather swings, but the end of 2016, and so far into 2017, is about as weird as weather can get.

As a beautiful November ended last fall, December arrived with a mission, a seemingly singular focus to make things miserable for critters and citizens of the state.


North Dakota Outdoors editor Ron Wilson and Private Lands Coordinator Kevin Kading offer insight on the 2017 PLOTS Program Evolves, Adapts

The many upturned yellow signs anchored into rural North Dakota lands are unmistakably familiar. For those who hunt, the signs that trumpet the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program, should be easily recognizable, as the walk-in access program is a long-time staple.