Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Game and Fish Pays $644,000 in Property Taxes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently paid more than $644,000 in taxes to counties in which the department owns or leases land. The 2016 in-lieu-of-tax payments are the same as property taxes paid by private landowners.

090313-WMA-sign-placing

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.

Fireworks Prohibited on Wildlife Management Areas

 

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds citizens that possession or use of fireworks on state wildlife management areas is prohibited.

090313-WMA-sign-placingThe primary objective of a wildlife management area is to enhance wildlife production, provide hunting and fishing opportunities, and offer other outdoor recreational and educational uses. Only activities that would not disrupt the intentions of how these areas are managed are encouraged, and a fireworks display is not compatible.

 

Excessive noise and commotion that come with fireworks disturbs wildlife, and their explosive nature is a potential source of wildfires. Chances of a wildfire developing are greatly enhanced when explosives, such as fireworks, come in contact with tall grasses in rural areas.

 

A complete list of the WMA regulations is available on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

photo by Harold Umber, ND Game and Fish

Women Invited to Hike Maah Daah Hey Trail

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has openings for Hike the Maah Daah Hey Trail, a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman event scheduled for July 15-16.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

This workshop is designed for women with previous hiking or backpacking skills, or who are in good physical condition. Participants will hike a 13-mile portion of the trail near the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Activity is strenuous due to rough terrain. The $30 fee includes group gear and transportation to and from the CCC Campground. Each participant must provide their own personal gear and meals.

Women interested in attending the workshop must enroll online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. More information is available by contacting Brian Schaffer at 701-328-6312, or email ndgf@nd.gov.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Test Set

The next guide and outfitter written examination is Aug. 12 at 1 p.m. at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a hunting guide or outfitter in the state.

In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.

Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, as well as an individual must have held a hunting guide license for two years; and must have proof of liability insurance.

Interested individuals are required to preregister by calling the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement office at 328-6604.

Spring Breeding Duck Numbers Tallied

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 70th annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 2.95 million birds, down 15 percent from last year.

Migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski said even though the index is below 3 million for the first time since 1994, it still stands 23 percent above the long-term average (1948-2016) and is the 24th highest on record.

“Fortunately, we still have a lot of ducks,” Szymanski said.

Survey results indicate canvasbacks (up 23 percent), pintails (up 5 percent) and redheads (up 2 percent) increased from their 2016 estimates, while shovelers were unchanged. Mallards were fairly stable (down 5 percent), while ruddy ducks showed the largest decrease (down 36 percent). All other ducks were 16-28 percent below last year’s numbers. However, most species, with the exception of pintails, blue-winged teal and ruddy ducks, were well-above the 69-year average.

The number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was higher than last year, as figures show the spring water index is up 78 percent. However, Szymanski said that is misleading.

“Last year’s water index was very low during our survey, and was followed by a lot of rain in late spring,” he added. “When you combine that with winter snow melt, the temporary and seasonal wetlands had water during the survey, but were struggling to hang on. It’s been quite dry since we did the survey, and once again those wetlands are dry.”

Szymanski said because of habitat concerns, it looks like there might be a struggle to produce ducks, with the exception of the northeast portion of the state and to a lesser degree the northern tier.

“We’ve lost a lot of nesting cover since 2007, and now we are going into summer without much water,” he said. “I just don’t think the ducks will have very good production in a lot of areas.”

Szymanski said there were also areas struggling to attract pairs of ducks where he expected to see better numbers. “There was a fair bit of water in bigger basins, but those larger water areas aren’t attractive to ducks, as they look for smaller wetlands, and those were drying up.”

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

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.

Szymanski said the July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall.

“And as we have seen in recent years, a lot depends on bird movements before and during hunting seasons, and weather patterns during the migration,” he said.

 

have you read? June Outdoors Magazine FREE!

 

 

The 2017 June   North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

 

North Dakota Outdoors Editor Ron Wilson writes  Fishing For Options  In a walleye-mad state, where this is the fish of choice for 80-plus percent of the anglers, maybe news of the best bluegill fishing in decades doesn’t raise many eyebrows.

 

Then again, perhaps it should.

 

 

Ron also wrote  Milkweeds and Monarchs

 

Greg Link, North Dakota Game and Fish Department conservation and communications chief, said the monarch butterfly population has fallen from an estimated high of almost 1 billion in 1996 to a low of 35 million in 2013. Wintering ground population estimates in Mexico in 2015-16 showed that the population rebounded some, but the concern remains.

 

 

Forgotten Fish of Western North Dakota’s Small Streams

 

Western North Dakota streams flow through either badlands or rolling prairies. Badland streams drain the Little Missouri River basin within the river’s historic floodplain. The hillslopes have eroded over time and have little vegetation protecting them from further erosion. Many badlands streams have wide, shallow channels and many become dry, except for pools during low flow periods of late summer.

 

 

 

The 2017 June   North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

North Dakota Outdoors Editor Ron Wilson writes  Fishing For Options  In a walleye-mad state, where this is the fish of choice for 80-plus percent of the anglers, maybe news of the best bluegill fishing in decades doesn’t raise many eyebrows.

Then again, perhaps it should.

Ron also wrote  Milkweeds and Monarchs

Greg Link, North Dakota Game and Fish Department conservation and communications chief, said the monarch butterfly population has fallen from an estimated high of almost 1 billion in 1996 to a low of 35 million in 2013. Wintering ground population estimates in Mexico in 2015-16 showed that the population rebounded some, but the concern remains.

Forgotten Fish of Western North Dakota’s Small Streams

Western North Dakota streams flow through either badlands or rolling prairies. Badland streams drain the Little Missouri River basin within the river’s historic floodplain. The hillslopes have eroded over time and have little vegetation protecting them from further erosion. Many badlands streams have wide, shallow channels and many become dry, except for pools during low flow periods of late summer.

 

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2016 Early Canada Goose Harvest Again Tops 36,000

For the sixth consecutive year, North Dakota early Canada goose season hunters bagged more than 36,000 birds, according to a recent harvest estimate released by the state Game and Fish Department. This is the combined harvest from the August Canada goose management take, and the September Canada goose hunting season.

080112 column early goose hunt

While the 2016 harvest is somewhat lower than the peak early season bag in recent years, Game and Fish migratory game bird management supervisor Mike Szymanski says it’s still a highly successful season in the department’s effort to reign in the state’s resident Canada goose population.

 

Szymanski estimates that approximately 3,600 residents and 1,000 nonresidents who actually hunted averaged about 10 birds apiece for the combined effort in August and September, which started Aug. 15 with a “management take.”

 

The regular early hunting season started Sept. 1 and ran through Sept. 7 in the Missouri River zone, and through Sept. 15 in the rest of the state. In total, that’s about 18 percent fewer hunters than participated in 2015, a fact that Szymanski attributes to extensive late summer movement of Canada geese, which made finding huntable numbers of birds difficult in many areas.

 

“This late summer waterfowl movement is something that seems to be more pronounced in recent years,” Szymanski said. “Birds that were produced in North Dakota are showing up in Manitoba and Saskatchewan by early September. We don’t know if it’s related to avoiding hunting pressure or availability of food, as there’s very little harvested small grain fields for feeding in some areas. It could even relate to the birds trying to find cooler temperatures during years when we seem to be warmer than normal in the state.”

 

Barnes and Ramsey counties had the highest numbers of birds harvested by resident hunters, while McIntosh and LaMoure counties had the highest number of Canada geese harvested by nonresident hunters.

 

The top 10 counties for total harvest were Ramsey, McIntosh, Kidder, Benson, Stutsman, Barnes, LaMoure, McHenry, Nelson and Ward. Ramsey County had more than 3,000 birds harvested, while the estimate for Ward County in 10th place was 1,207.

 

“We’re seeing a good harvest in the eastern half of the state where there seems to be the most conflicts between crop producers and geese during the summer,” Szymanski said. “We need to keep the pressure on to keep our locally breeding Canada goose population from growing any larger.”

 

It’s really important for landowners experiencing depredation issues to allow goose hunters on their property not only during the early season, Szymanski said, but also in October and November as birds that may have made late-summer movements come back through the state.

 

The 2017 early Canada goose season is tentatively slated to start on Aug. 15 again, with a similar structure as in recent years.

 

Have You Read? May ND Outdoors Magazine!

​The 2017 May North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

Outdoors editor Ron Wilson and Game and Fish communications supervisor Craig Bihrle have a great  read Sage Grouse Recovery Effort Underway with some great photographs.

In April, North Dakota Game and Fish personnel moved 60 sage grouse – 40 females and 20 males – from southern Wyoming to Bowman County. To keep tabs on the birds, all were marked with either GPS or VHF radio devices.The big upland birds have a fundamental link to the aromatic plant, big sage. Sagebrush is critical to sage grouse, as they rely on the plant for food for much of the year, cover from weather and predators, and nesting and brood habitat.

The reality, however, is about half of the big sage habitat in North Dakota has vanished from the landscape in the last half-century, but has remained stable for the last decade or more.

North Dakota Outdoors editor Ron Wilson wrote North Dakota’s Shorebird Connection

Of the 50 or so shorebird species that migrate through North America in spring, roughly 36 have ties to North Dakota. The link to this neck of the Northern Plains for the majority is brief, yet vital, as birds touch down to rest and refuel, before pointing their bills north and continuing on.

Deer Season Set, Online Apps Available

North Dakota’s 2017 deer season is set with 54,500 licenses available to hunters this fall, 5,500 more than last year.

The number of licenses available for 2017 includes 2,750 for antlered mule deer, an increase of 200 from last year; 1,022 for muzzleloader, an increase of 94 from last year; and 245 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an increase of 20 from last year.

Game and Fish will issue mule deer doe licenses in units 4B and 4C for the first time since 2011. However, for the sixth consecutive year there are no mule deer doe licenses available in unit 4A, due to higher winter mortality which caused a slight decline in numbers from 2016.

North Dakota’s 2017 deer gun season opens Nov. 10 at noon and continues through Nov. 26.

Online applications for regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader and resident gratis licenses are available through the Game and Fish Department’s website atgf.nd.gov. Also, paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state by mid-May. The deadline for applying is June 7.

Nonresidents may apply for North Dakota deer licenses only through the Game and Fish website.

A new law passed by the North Dakota State Legislature allows youth who turn age 11 before the end of the calendar year to receive a whitetail doe license valid for only the youth deer hunting season. Therefore, 10-year-olds who turn age 11 in 2017 are eligible to receive an antlerless whitetail license. Hunter education is not required until the youth turns age 12.

State law requires residents age 18 or older to prove residency on the application by submitting a valid North Dakota driver’s license number or a North Dakota nondriver photo identification number. Applications cannot be processed without this information.

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline (June 7) will be issued 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.