Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Game and Fish Pays $700,000 in Property Taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid more than $700,000 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2019 in-lieu-of-tax payments are the same as property taxes paid by private landowners.

 

The Game and Fish Department manages more than 200,000 acres for wildlife habitat and public hunting in 51 counties. The department does not own or manage any land in Traill or Renville counties.

 

Following is a list of counties and the tax payments they received.

Deer Gratis Application Online

Landowners who are interested in a 2020 deer gratis license can start the online-only application process now by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. The deadline for applying is June 3.

The general deer and muzzleloader lottery applications will be available online in early May, also with a deadline of June 3.

Since 2018 the Game and Fish Department has opened deer gratis applications a month earlier than prior years to allow additional time for online applications for landowners who are busy with spring farm and ranch activities.

Gratis applicants who have previously applied online will automatically have their land description carried forward to this year’s application. However, any changes with land descriptions from last year’s application must be made prior to submitting the 2020 application.

Applications must be submitted online using a computer or smartphone.  License vendors are unable to process deer gratis applications.

Spring Mule Deer Survey Begins April 1

The state Game and Fish Department’s annual spring aerial mule deer survey is set to begin April 1 in western North Dakota. Weather permitting, the survey takes about two weeks to complete.

 

During the survey period, people could notice low-flying small airplanes over some parts of the badlands.

 

Game and Fish biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 badlands study areas since the 1950s. The purpose of the survey is to determine a population index to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands.

Youth Grant Program Applications Due in April

Wildlife, shooting, fraternal and nonprofit civic organizations are urged to submit an application for the Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters program, a North Dakota Game and Fish Department grant program developed to assist recruitment of the next generation of hunters and shooters.

 

The maximum grant allowed is $3,000. The program currently helps fund approximately 40 club and organizational events and projects each year, with an average grant of $1,550.

 

Grant funds help cover event expenses, including promotional printing; event memorabilia such as shirts, caps or vests; ammunition and targets, and eye and ear protection.

 

Past funding has enabled groups to conduct youth pheasant and waterfowl hunts, or sponsor trap and other shooting events, including archery and rifle shooting. Game and Fish has a separate grant program that supports new high school trapshooting teams.
Any club or organization interested in conducting a youth hunting or shooting event can get more information, including a grant application, from the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or by contacting R3 coordinator Brian Schaffer at 701-328-6312.

 

The deadline to apply for a 2020 grant is April 10.

2019 Deer Season Summarized

A total of 57,949 North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 37,250 deer during the 2019 deer gun hunting season, according to a post-season survey conducted by the state Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish made available 65,500 deer gun licenses last year. Overall hunter success was 64 percent, with each hunter spending an average of 4.3 days in the field.

Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 64 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 58 percent.

Mule deer buck success was 78 percent, and antlerless mule deer was 79 percent.

Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses generally harvest white-tailed deer, as these licenses are predominantly in units with mostly whitetails. Buck hunters had a success rate of 68 percent, while doe hunters had a success rate of 65 percent.

Game and Fish issued 11,981 gratis licenses in 2019, and 9,767 hunters harvested 5,416 deer, for a success rate of 56 percent.

A total of 1,206 muzzleloader licenses were issued in 2019, and 1,040 hunters harvested 426 white-tailed deer (222 antlered, 204 antlerless). Hunter success was 41 percent.

A total of 27,582 archery licenses (24,902 resident, 2,680 nonresident) were issued in 2019. In total, 21,960 bow hunters harvested 8,978 deer (7,988 whitetails, 990 mule deer), for a success rate of 41 percent.

The department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in 2020. In addition to harvest rates and winter aerial surveys, Game and Fish staff monitor other population indices to determine license numbers, including depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

Open Fires Banned on Oahe WMA, Surrounding Areas

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is prohibiting open burning this spring on public property it manages south of Bismarck and Mandan, as a means to reduce potential for wildfires on a heavily wooded recreation area along the Missouri River.

Bill Haase, wildlife resource management supervisor, said all open burning, including campfires, is banned until further notice on the Oahe Wildlife Management Area along both sides of the Missouri River. While the use of portable grills is allowed, extreme caution is advised due to the heavily vegetated area.

Haase said these woodlands are prone to wildfires prior to spring green-up. Mild temperatures and a high fuel load in the river bottoms are a cause for concern, he said, in addition to being a high use area for anglers, campers and other outdoor recreationists.

In addition to Oahe WMA, surrounding areas included in the open burn ban include Kimball Bottoms and Maclean Bottoms managed by Bismarck Parks and Recreation District, Desert Off Road Vehicle Area managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Graner Park managed by Morton County Parks.

Oahe WMA covers more than 16,000 acres along Lake Oahe south of Bismarck-Mandan, in portions of Burleigh, Emmons, and Morton counties. Burning restriction signs are posted at all entrances to the WMA.

Game and Fish Reminds Anglers to Keep Social Distance

With a pleasant weekend in the forecast and a lot of North Dakotans anxious to do something outside, the State Game and Fish Department reminds anglers to practice social distancing, whether it’s on shore, from a boat or on the ice.

“We encourage people to get outside and fish and enjoy the outdoors,” said Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand, “but we also need to practice the recommendations for minimizing the risk of spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Especially for anglers at popular shore-fishing locations, Steinwand said a good rule of thumb is that if you can reach out with a fishing rod and touch the person fishing next to you, you’re too close. “In other situations, we urge people to follow the 6-foot separation guideline as well,” Steinwand added.

Over the next several weeks, Game and Fish will keep an eye on popular shore-fishing areas to assess the level of activity. “We depend on the public’s awareness and willingness to cooperate,” Steinwand said, “but we’ll be monitoring, and if it appears that the recommendations are not being followed, we might have to consider closing access to those high traffic areas because of the risk involved.”

To this point, Game and Fish has not restricted access to its public outdoor facilities such as wildlife management areas and fishing waters, but its office buildings are currently closed to public traffic. “We are continuing to handle phone calls and online traffic,” Steinwand said, “so anyone who needs help or has questions can call or email us.”

Hunters Cautioned of Ground Conditions

The spring snow goose migration is in full swing, and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking hunters to be wary of muddy roads and saturated ground conditions when traveling to and from hunting locations.

Game and Fish Department wildlife chief Jeb Williams said goose hunters are encouraged to maintain positive landowner/hunter relations and not drive on soft, muddy roads and trails, and to seek landowner permission before attempting any off-road travel on private land.

The spring light goose conservation order runs through May 10.