Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Spring Duck Numbers Tallied

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 71st annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 2.8 million birds, down 5 percent from last year.

 

Migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski said even though the index is below 3 million for the second consecutive year, it still stands 16 percent above the long-term average (1948-2017) and is the 25th highest on record.

 

“Duck numbers are still hanging on, but are certainly better in some local areas,” Szymanski said.

 

Survey results indicate only shovelers (up 10 percent) and wigeon (up 7 percent) increased from their 2017 estimates. Mallards were stable (down 1 percent), while green-winged teal showed the largest decrease (down 20 percent). All other ducks were 3-17 percent below last year’s numbers. However, most species, with the exception of pintails, blue-winged teal and ruddy ducks, were well-above the 70-year average.

 

An interesting observation during the survey, Szymanski noted, was the lack of breeding effort for Canada geese. “We can attribute that to the late spring and overall dry conditions,” he said.

 

The number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was down from last year, as figures show the spring water index is down 34 percent.

 

“That was mostly felt in the shallow waters,” Szymanski said. “Similar to last year, there were a lot of wetlands that weren’t in good shape and were close to drying up.”

 

However, Szymanski said rainfall over the last couple weeks has improved wetland conditions since the survey. “If rain continues over the next month, wetland conditions in some regions will be conducive to raising broods,” he said.

 

Szymanski said concerns about habitat remain, as overall conditions weren’t very good with expiring Conservation Reserve Program acres, and habitat conversion to other uses.

 

The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands or the type of wetlands represented.

 

The July brood survey provides a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall, Szymanski said, though hunting success is also influenced by bird movements before and during hunting seasons, and weather patterns during the fall migration.

2017 Upland Game Seasons Summarized

Drought conditions, and not as many hunters in the field last fall meant fewer pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge in the bag, according to statistics compiled by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

 

Last year, more than 58,300 pheasant hunters (down 24 percent) harvested 309,400 roosters (down 38 percent), compared to 76,600 hunters and 501,100 roosters in 2016.

 

Counties with the highest percentage of pheasants taken by resident hunters in 2017 were McLean, 6.7; Burleigh, 6.6; Williams, 5.9; Sargent, 5.6; and Divide, 5.5.

 

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Hettinger, 18.2 percent; Bowman, 10.2; Divide, 7.1; Emmons, 5.6; and Dickey, 5.5.

 

In 2017, 13,600 grouse hunters (down 28 percent) harvested 46,900 sharp-tailed grouse (down 28 percent). In 2016, nearly 18,900 hunters took 65,500 sharptails.

 

Counties with the highest percentage of sharptails taken by resident hunters in 2017 were Slope, 8.6; Walsh, 6.6; Mountrail, 6.4; Kidder, 6.3; and Benson, 4.8.

 

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Bowman, 11.3; Hettinger, 7.4; Divide, 7; Mountrail, 6.8; and Ward, 6.4.

 

Last year, nearly 13,800 hunters (down 18 percent) harvested 32,800 Hungarian partridge (down 40 percent). In 2016, 16,900 hunters harvested 54,200 Huns.

 

Counties with the highest percentage of Huns taken by resident hunters in 2017 were Mountrail, 10.8; Ward, 8.3; Stark, 5.8; Williams, 5.4; and Adams, 4.4.

 

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Divide, 15; McLean, 12.3; Golden Valley, 7.3; Stutsman, 7.3; and Grant, 6.3.

Deer Application Deadline is June 6

Deer hunters are reminded the deadline for submitting applications for the 2018 gun season is Wednesday, June 6.

 

Applicants for regular deer gun, youth and muzzleloader can apply online through the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or call 800-406-6409. A service fee is charged for applications made through the 800 number.

 

Gratis applicants must apply online – the toll-free licensing telephone number is not set up to receive gratis applications. In addition, paper applications are no longer available for any lottery or gratis licenses.

 

Applicants who do not have access to a computer can submit the application at a public service location such as a public library, stop at a Game and Fish office, or request help from a friend, relative or neighbor.

 

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline will qualify for an any-legal-deer license. As per state law, gratis applications received after the deadline will be processed based on licenses remaining after the lottery – generally only antlerless licenses remain.

The 2018 May North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

 

Ron Wilson explains how the extended winter resulted in a Northern Pike Spawn Delayed

When North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists set trap nets in Lake Oahe in spring for the northern pike spawn, they were as late to the game as they’d been in years.

 

Ron also authored the story on Deer Gun Applications go Electronic  A law passed by the North Dakota Legislature requiring the Department to develop an all-electronic licensing system, and phase out the old paper license books, actually went into effect April 1, 2016.

 

The North Dakota State Water Commission explains the history and transition of lowhead dams and how State Agencies Work Together To Eliminate “Drowning Machines”

 

One of the unintentional consequences that materialized is that these lowhead dams created dangerous conditions that recreational river users may not be aware of or may underestimate.

 

Deer Season Set, Online Apps Available

North Dakota’s 2018 deer season is set, with 55,150 licenses available to hunters this fall, 650 more than last year.

In total, antlered mule deer licenses increased by 150 from last year, antlerless mule deer by 550, antlered whitetail by 150 and antlerless whitetail by 150. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reduced the number of “any antlered” licenses by 100, and reduced “any antlerless” license by 250.

In addition, restricted youth antlered mule deer licenses increased by 15, and muzzleloader licenses remained the same.

As in the past several years, no mule deer doe licenses are available in unit 4A.

North Dakota’s 2018 deer gun season opens Nov. 9 at noon and continues through Nov. 25.

Applicants for regular deer gun, youth and muzzleloader can apply online through the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or call 800-406-6409. A service fee is charged for applications made through the 800 number.

Gratis applicants must apply online – the toll-free licensing telephone number is not set up to receive gratis applications. In addition, paper applications are no longer available for any lottery or gratis licenses.

The deadline for applying is June 6.

Applicants who do not have access to a computer can submit the application at a public service location such as a public library, stop at a Game and Fish office, or request help from a friend, relative or neighbor.

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline will qualify for an any-legal-deer license. As per state law, gratis applications received after the deadline will be processed based on licenses remaining after the lottery – generally only antlerless licenses remain.

Total deer licenses are determined by harvest rates, aerial surveys, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

Spring Mule Deer Survey Complete

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population is similar to last year, and 45 percent above the long-term average.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

 

Biologists counted 2,540 mule deer in 245.8 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 10.3 deer per square mile, compared to 10.9 in 2017.

 

Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said mule deer in the badlands have recovered nicely following the winters of 2009-11, which led to record low fawn production and a population index low of 4.6 mule deer per square mile in 2012.

 

“The population recovery is due to no antlerless harvest for four years combined with milder winter conditions during 2012-2016, which led to good fawn production since 2013,” Stillings said. “However, the long-term health of the population will depend on maintaining high quality habitat. Rangeland conditions are in tough shape in the badlands due to drought conditions, and could have a negative impact on fawn production this summer.”

 

The 2018 survey results show that hunting opportunities, according to Stillings, can increase slightly in all badlands units except 4A, which has been slower to recover than the rest of the badlands units. “There are localized areas that have very high mule deer densities and have exceeded landowner tolerance levels,” Stillings said.

 

The spring mule deer survey is used to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. It is conducted after the snow has melted and before the trees begin to leaf out, providing the best conditions for aerial observation of deer. Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s.

Game and Fish Pays $621,000 in Property Taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid more than $621,000 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2017 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.

 

County Tax Due County Tax Due County Tax Due
Adams 182.33 Grand Forks 14,129.07 Pierce 2,815.44
Barnes 5,644.02 Grant 1,131.83 Ramsey 15,390.45
Benson 4,596.45 Griggs 82.08 Ransom 1,495.39
Billings 300.78 Hettinger 4,718.98 Richland 18,136.88
Bottineau 5,218.40 Kidder 10,315.27 Rolette 38,642.11
Bowman 2,097.65 LaMoure 9,812.72 Sargent 17,627.17
Burke 1,200.12 Logan 336.07 Sheridan 62,021.67
Burleigh 27,957.99 McHenry 1,609.79 Sioux 232.35
Cass 7,054.45 McIntosh 9,466.17 Slope 1,585.08
Cavalier 28,619.90 McKenzie 33,447.76 Stark 5,383.98
Dickey 12,964.84 McLean 94,341.96 Steele 8,245.29
Divide 1,873.65 Mercer 17,137.90 Stutsman 4,563.95
Dunn 5,892.05 Morton 19,720.35 Towner 2,267.82
Eddy 5,749.63 Mountrail 7,736.86 Walsh 10,871.86
Emmons 3,802.69 Nelson 5,560.39 Ward 115.79
Foster 978.75 Oliver 2,919.94 Wells 61,796.96
Golden Valley 146.55 Pembina 17,862.28 Williams 5,243.55

Scholarships Available for Students

The North Dakota Game Wardens Association, Ray Goetz Memorial Fund and Kupper Chevrolet are providing scholarships to a graduating high school senior or current higher education student, majoring in fisheries, wildlife management or law enforcement.

 

Applicants must be North Dakota residents, and have maintained a 3.25 grade point average. Scholarships will be awarded this fall upon proof of enrollment.

 

Applications are available by contacting the North Dakota Game Warden’s Association, P.O. Box 3581, Minot, ND 58702; or by email at btupdike@nd.gov. Applications must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2018.

Pronghorn Hunting Season Statistics

Hunter success during last fall’s pronghorn hunting season was 75 percent, according to statistics provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish issued 410 licenses (255 lottery and 155 gratis), and 366 hunters took 275 pronghorn, consisting of 264 bucks, 10 does and one fawn. Each hunter spent an average of 2.4 days afield.

Three percent of the harvest occurred during the archery season.

The 2018 pronghorn hunting season will be determined in July.

Doug.Leier2017a