Being outdoors in North Dakota -- or anywhere else for that matter -- comes with certain responsibilities. One of the most visible, irresponsible and irritating things is when those enjoying the outdoors leave unmistakable evidence of their presence. I'd call these people sportsmen, but that kind of behavior doesn't fit the description.
I know, I'm climbing up on the soap box again.
Garbage, trash, junk -- call it what you want -- should never be intentionally left in the field, on the shoreline, in the water, on an approach or left to blow freely out of a pickup box or fishing boat. It shouldn't be left there unintentionally either. Pick it up, take it home and throw it away properly. Do what every Boy Scout does. Police your area. Do it every time.
Kim Fundingsland is a staff writer for The Minot Daily News.
The sportsmen of North Dakota know how valuable it is to be able to enjoy the privilege of hunting and fishing and hiking and camping. Leaving no evidence of man behind is the sportsman's goal for each and every outing. Anything else is unacceptable.
I've seen areas closed to fishing because shore fishermen constantly left debris along the shoreline. I've seen pelicans and shorebirds emaciated or dead because of becoming tangled in discarded fishing line or those plastic six-pack containers. I know of farmers who closed areas to hunting because of trash left near approaches to their fields. Leaving junk behind is inexcusable and shows complete lack of consideration for fish, wildlife and others who enjoy the outdoors.
I watched a fisherman clean up the shoreline at the tailrace this past week. It made me glad and mad. I was glad he was doing that, and mad that it needed to be done. Leaving junk along a shoreline makes it real easy to make a successful argument for closure. It happens. Don't think it doesn't.
There is a really easy rule to follow that takes care of the problem before it begins -- don't set it down and you won't have to pick it up. In other words, if you've got trash of any sort, put it where belongs the first time. Carry trash bags in your hunting vehicle or boat. Use them. Problem solved.
I've fished with experienced fishermen who never toss so much as a foot of fishing line out of the boat. They know what fishing line can do to a motor. They wrap the stuff up and put it in their pocket, then take it home or toss it in the Dumpster near the boat ramp when leaving the water. That's a lot better than having it wash up on shore, get tangled up with some bird or wrapped into somebody else's propeller.
A discarded lure box or snarl of fishing line on the shore leaves no doubt that a fisherman left it there. The same goes for shot shells left piled in a field or bird carcasses tossed on an approach for everyone to see. What is the purpose in that? You know that was done by a hunter. There's no one else to blame.
Cleaning birds in the field is a good idea, but use some discretion as to where you do it. There's no reason to make a visible mess that someone else can question. Don't put minnows in a livewell and then drain them onto the parking lot where they can rot and stink and attract flies and spoil the area for others.
Please don't make sportsmen defend what real sportsmen won't do. Keep it safe, keep it clean and hunt and fish every minute you can.
I'll get off the soap box now ... and take it home with me.