A few nuggets for this first day of April:
Hunting can be a pricey sport, to be sure, but the winning bidder spent a whopping $75,000 for a North Dakota bighorn sheep tag March 23 at the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation’s annual meeting in Bloomington, Minn. The previous high of $50,000 was set in 2007. Proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota, and the auction has raised more than $1 million for the cause since 1986.
Speaking of bighorn sheep, the odds of drawing one of the three lottery tags in North Dakota are somewhere between slim and none. According to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, a total of 8,704 people applied for the three available tags last year. That puts the odds of receiving a sheep tag at a miniscule .03 percent. The odds are considerably better for elk and moose, which round out the “big three” in North Dakota. Hunters last year had a 1.39 percent chance of drawing an “any elk” tag, a 50 percent chance of drawing a cow elk tag and a 30.17 percent chance of drawing a landowner tag. Moose license applicants last year had a .75 percent chance of drawing a “bull/any moose” license, a 12.93 percent chance of drawing a cow license and a 12.67 percent chance of drawing a landowner moose license. If you didn’t apply for one of the big three licenses this year, you’re out of luck; the deadline was March 27.
Don’t forget you need a new North Dakota fishing and/or hunting license as of today, which marks the official start of the new season.
Anglers in Lake of the Woods country have the best of both worlds right now. According to the Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau, the ice on the big lake, including Four-Mile Bay at the mouth of the Rainy River, is still in good shape. And if you’re itching to get into a boat, anglers have been dragging small boats over ice to reach open water on the Rainy River near Birchdale, Minn. I talked to a fisheries biologist in Baudette, Minn., the other day who tells me the open-water walleye action has been good. Look for it to stay that way until spring runoff muddies up the water. Walleye season on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River is open through April 14.