North Dakota's deer season by law is set to open the Friday before Nov. 11, Veterans Day. This year, Veterans Day is on a Saturday, and so the deer gun opener falls on the latest possible date. That means the 16 1/2-day season continues until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
That doesn't happen very often, but a season that continues past Thanksgiving gives hunters late-November opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have, Williams said.
"Generally speaking, people do like that," he said.
And since Veterans Day is on a Saturday, many people will have the previous day off.
"We talk about the opening day of deer season being a holiday," Williams said. "Well, this year, it will be."
Hunters this year also can expect colder, snowier hunting conditions if recent weather patterns hold. That would be a big change from the shirtsleeve weather that has greeted hunters on some recent openers.
Snow on the ground definitely works in hunters' favor, Jensen said.
"Deer are much more observable with a white background," he said. That is readily apparent in the survey Game and Fish sends out to a random sample of hunters every year asking them to count and classify the deer they see the Saturday and Sunday of opening weekend.
"You can really tell over time -- you'll see these spikes (in deer sightings) during years with the heavy snow cover," Jensen said.
This year's later-than-usual opener also is closer to the peak of the rut, which in North Dakota is about Nov. 12 for whitetails and Nov. 18 for mule deer, Jensen said.
That also should work in hunters' favor.
"The peak of the rut for whitetail is primarily influenced by daylight -- that's what synchronizes the rut," Jensen said. "There is going to be day-to-day fluctuations from the influence of weather, cold and rain, but during the rut, (bucks) are going to be active."
In terms of other hunting seasons, North Dakota's muzzleloader season opens at noon Friday, Dec. 1 and continues through Sunday, Dec. 17. Game and Fish offered 1,022 muzzleloader tags, up 94 from 2016. Archery season is open through Jan. 7.
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