By Doug Leier

We're each afforded our own perspective on the beginning of spring.

Sports fans point toward baseball's spring training, turkey hunters anxiously await the April 9 gobbler season opener, and you could fill up pages with other events or notable milestones that people consider as an unofficial arrival of spring

The calendar, of course, says spring begins on March 20 this year, but it's anybody's guess whether it will actually feel like spring or winter.

March begins a transition for many hunters, anglers and all who are ready to start wiping off mud on the garage rug instead of dusting snow off the bottom of your jeans. No doubt we'll have plenty of mud because of all the snow that will melt in the coming weeks, but it's just a small inconvenience as we transition out of winter.

The spring snow goose conservation season is already open, but the snowline, not the opening day, is the limiting factor for those ready to ring in spring with a light goose hunt. If you were licensed to hunt waterfowl last fall, you are good to go with that license, or, you can purchase a 2011 license online now. Either way, you also need a 2011 Harvest Information Program registration, which is also good for the fall.

Also in terms of hunting, March 12 won't really find coffee shops and gas stations buzzing with hunters, but it does mark the opening of spring crow season and the last day before we need to set our clocks ahead.

As for winter fishing, marginal ice formation in some places, along with excessive snow, challenged even the most hardcore anglers, but those who did plant their permanent house on the ice are reminded that March 15 is the deadline to remove those unattended ice shelters.

The season for ice fishing doesn't close, but ice shacks not in use cannot be legally left on the ice. Even if you are certain you plan to get out the next day, don't take a chance as variable weather patterns can turn decent ice into a potential death trap of slush or even open water in short order.

Speaking of deadlines and reminders, March 30 is the deadline for applying for the 2011 fall moose, elk and bighorn sheep lotteries. The Game and Fish Department's online application feature at should be available soon, as should paper applications at the usual license vendors.

While I'm intending to enjoy every sunburn and mosquito bite I can muster this year, it's not too early to start thinking about fall prospects, and taking care of a little paperwork now could lead to a once-in-a-lifetime North Dakota hunting opportunity in six or seven months.

Finally, if you're like me you've got two North Dakota Outdoors calendars and one is turned a month ahead. If so, you'll see a sure sign of spring - the announcement that April 1 is the beginning of a new fishing year and therefore a new fishing license is required.

Indeed, I'll be more than happy to slip last year's license into the desk drawer along with those from previous years. Like many of you, I save them. For what? I don't know, but the stowing of an old license is one of those benchmarks that convinces me spring is here -- even if it doesn't look or feel like it.

Leier is a biologist with the Game & Fish Department. He can be reached by email:[email protected]