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Deer season underway

North Dakota deer season is friends, family and traditions

Kim Fundingsland/MDN A party of deer hunters, friends and family, discuss final plans while waiting for the season to open. The season opened at noon Friday, Nov. 6. This photograph was taken south of Garrison.

GARRISON – The chatter was friendly, a bit teasing at times, but all in fun. That’s what happens when good friends and family gather together for the deer season opener. The start of the season was just 15 minutes and the excitement was in the air. Everyone knew where to go and what to do and were counting down the minutes to when the hunt would get underway.

“We just all like to get together. It’s the only time we do all get together to hunt,” said Alroy Schoenberg, Garrison. “Some are friends. My son and his son from Fargo are here and there’s two from Jamestown.”

One member of the hunting party, 11-year-old Hailey VanHall, Jamestown, was eagerly anticipating taking part in her first deer season. She didn’t have a license but wasn’t about to let that keep her out of the fun. Not this time. She stayed home a year earlier but her father couldn’t hold her back another season. The time was right for her to get a taste of what deer hunting is all about.

“This is actually my first time going, so I’m really excited about that,” said VanHall. “I want to experience what it’s like. I like being out in nature and it’s something I’ve wanted to do.”

While Hailey didn’t have a license her father, Chris VanHall, Jamestown, did and was more than happy to see his daughter’s enthusiasm for the hunt.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Hailey VanHall, 11, Jamestown, took part in her first deer hunt last weekend. She didn’t have a license but was eager to be in the field with her father and friends. VanHall said she hopes to get a deer gun tag next season.

“I wanted to come up and hunt and hang out with these guys and she’s been itching and itching to go hunting,” said Chris VanHall. “You’ve got to teach them when they’re young, teach them to enjoy the outdoors. Teach them to be outside and enjoy what’s around them and appreciate what’s around them.”

“I’m hoping to get a license next year,” added Hailey VanHall with a big smile.

Several in the group kept checking the time, waiting for noon and the opening of the season. Firearms were shouldered in slings in anticipation of the upcoming walk through a mixture of tall grass, shrubs and trees – great habitat for white-tailed deer. Early scouting confirmed there were plenty of deer using the area.

“It’s all about getting together with friends and family, and getting out in nature,” said Jason Schoenberg, West Fargo. “Me and my son like to get together with my dad and my son’s grandpa. Of course, everyone else too. We’ve been hunting together for years, ever since I was a little guy.”

Then, turning to his son and making certain everyone could hear, Schoenberg said with a loud voice, “I brought my son along to drag stuff!”

The comment got a good laugh from fellow members of the hunting group, even putting a smile on Austin Schoenberg’s face.

“That’s how it usually goes when you are the younger one,” said Austin Schoenberg with a chuckle. “That’s how it goes.”

Then, noting the nice weather for the rapidly approaching opener, Austin Schoenberg added, “I hope it doesn’t get too hot or I’ll be shedding some layers.”

He also addressed the purpose of the outing, which was much more than filling a deer gun tag.

“I really like the family aspect, family and friends getting all together,” said Austin Schoenberg. “Some you don’t see all the time and getting out in nature. It’s pretty exciting and a nice way for everyone to get together and bond.”

By the end of the opening weekend the group had filled 10 of 11 tags, needing only to harvest one more buck over the remaining days of the season which closes at sunset Sunday, Nov. 22.

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