The outdoors, hunting, fishing and nature, aah, North Dakota Wild.

Now an elder, a North Dakota lifetime reminisced, still a curious child.

Potholes, Badlands, rivers, grains, hills and prairie once with bison herds,

Habitat home to big game, furbearers, turtles, butterflies, fish and birds.

Nature journaling to capture this magic, a fortunate lifetime profiled.

Ice fishing crappies at Dead Colt Creek, then listening at dusk to a pack of coyotes howl,

Hunkering with daughter in Cayuga cattails, awed by a pinkish dawn, waiting for waterfowl,

Peeking over a Center hill, observing the spring ritual of a sharptail grouse lek dance,

Hunting with Dad at Sentinel Butte, mesmerized by graceful pronghorn prance.

Walking prairie potholes near Delamere; next to a marsh perches a long-eared owl.

Cross country skiing with Mom in Red River oxbow while waxwings ravage chokecherry,

Monarch butterfly caterpillars on milkweed near Hazen while munching on buffaloberry.

Prairie chickens alight in Sheyenne Grasslands from prairie buffalo grass,

Rocky shorelines along Lake Sakakawea’s Beulah Bay yield smallmouth bass.

Gray juncos fly ahead along a New Salem shelterbelt near thickets of Juneberry.

Along the Bois de Sioux River, hearing a gold, red and purple wood duck’s oo-eek call,

A drive through the Pembina Gorge, alongside yellow and gold birches in the fall,

Boating by at one time the only bald eagle nest in our state near Stanton on the Big Muddy,

Hunting on a deep Lidgerwood slough for diving ducks like buffleheads, redheads and ruddy.

Scooping full nets of smelt from a Lewis & Clark State Park stream, quite a haul.

Watching bobbers sunk by one-pound bluegills while ice fishing on Brush Lake,

Camouflaged in Sheldon slough reed grass, torpedoed by a circling mallard drake.

Exploring for blackbird nests with blue-green eggs along our farm creek, angering a red-wing,

Using garden worms to catch bullheads on Lake Tewaukon, careful not to get a dorsal fin sting.

Calling in a red fox near Galchutt with a distressed rabbit call, not knowing it was fake.

Perched on a Moffit fence post, singing warble melodies, our state bird, the meadowlark,

A backyard bird feeder, listening to a nuthatch that yanks from a tree in Sertoma Park, Bismarck.

Hearing bobolinks in short grasses on a sunny day and under the moon a great horned owl hoot,

Swimming away on a Hankinson slough, October rafts of shovelers, pied-billed grebes and coot.

Amongst bison and prairie dog towns, stopping along roads in Theodore Roosevelt State Park.

Kneeling in a Dwight corn field, grabbing, riding and trying to tackle an orphaned moose,

Specklebellies standing along Geneseo sloughs, better known as the white fronted goose.

The largest North American breeding colonies of white pelicans at Medina, looking to nest,

Surprised by snipe’s holwitzer flight from McLeod artesian wetlands — why snipers are the best.

Snagging a prehistoric paddlefish near Williston, easily breaking the line and coming loose.

Ice-out fishing on a Garrison bay, using smelt to hook a monster gator northern pike,

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a shrew impaled on a thorn by a northern shrike.

Harvesting Hungarian partridge by Mooreton and ring-necked pheasant by Burt with a 12 gauge,

Even helicopter-sized sage grouse in Rhame pastures intermittent with cactus, yucca and sage.

Mountain bluebirds flying along the edges of Fort Ransom State Park woods on a hike.

Calmed by the whispering of quaking aspen trees in the Turtle Mountains by Bottineau,

Miles of walk-hunts from home farm, chasing jackrabbits that stand tall in the snow.

Feeling the strength of a 15 pound Chinook salmon with its powerful runs and pull,

Ice fishing during two pound yellow perch days at Devils Lake, freshwater shrimp full.

Catching lunker walleyes at Van Hook Arm near New Town, where northwest winds blow.

Stalking river woods for Mepps Minnow hair from squirrels – fox, gray, red or black,

Silent hunting for elk in the Killdeer Mountains, put on alert by a mountain lion paw track.

Hooking brown trout with crankbaits at night, jumping from the Garrison Tailrace,

Estuaries filled with avocets, yellowlegs and dowitchers, using Minnewaukon Flats as base.

Hunting the Badlands, peering over scoria buttes, spotting a mule deer buck with a trophy rack.

Walking harvested Christine corn fields with a flashlight and dog for 16 raccoon in one night,

Eye-to-eye with an angry badger, disturbed from digging its shallow hole, ready to fight.

Canoeing on the Red River in eery darkness, stillness broken by a beaver tail slap,

Walking on Milnor water, err, ice from hut to hut for muskrats, checking every trap.

Smelling prairie roses along Hannover gravel roads and purple pasture crocus, a spring sight.

From a Knife River woods, fooled by a hen decoy, an aggressive springtime tom wild turkey,

An early November eve by Rutland, the height of migrating snow goose flocks, V after V.

Running the Fargo Marathon and along rivers Red, Missouri, James, Sheyenne and Mouse,

Eagle Scout projects like goose tubs, wood duck and song bird boxes, even a bat house.

Kneading cheese stink bait on a triple-claw hook to catch a channel.

Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Rec.

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