Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

2017 Deer Season Summarized

A total of 49,407 North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 30,100 deer during the 2017 deer gun hunting season, according to a post-season survey conducted by the state Game and Fish Department.

 

Game and Fish made available 54,500 deer gun licenses last year. Overall hunter success was 61 percent, with each hunter spending an average of 4.4 days in the field.

 

Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 66 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 61 percent.

 

Mule deer buck success was 83 percent, and antlerless mule deer was 86 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 63 percent, while doe hunters had a success rate of 60 percent.

 

Game and Fish issued 13,402 gratis licenses in 2017, and 11,503 hunters harvested 6,059 deer, for a success rate of 53 percent.

 

A total of 1,022 muzzleloader licenses were issued in 2017, and 933 hunters harvested 354 white-tailed deer (196 antlered, 158 antlerless). Hunter success was 38 percent.

 

A record 28,481 archery licenses (26,114 resident, 2,367 nonresident) were issued in 2017. In total, 23,003 bow hunters harvested 8,900 deer (7,854 whitetails, 1046 mule deer), for a success rate of 39 percent.

 

The department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in 2018. The proclamation will be sent to the governor’s office for approval in late April.

 

In addition to harvest rates and winter aerial surveys, the department monitors a number of 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.

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Advisory Board Meetings Announced

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department spring advisory board meeting in their area.

These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.

The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the department and public.

Any person who requires an auxiliary aid or service must notify the contact person at least five days prior to the scheduled meeting date.

 

District 3 – Counties: Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner

Date: April 9 – 7 p.m.

Location:

Host:

Contact:

Advisory board member: Tom Rost, Devils Lake, 662-8620

 

District 4 – Counties: Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh

Date: April 9 – 7 p.m.

Location: American Legion, 108 5th St. E., Park River

Host: Walsh County Gun Club

Contact: Doug Hove, 360-0709

Advisory board member: Joe Solseng, 317-5009

 

District 1 – Counties: Divide, McKenzie and Williams

Date: April 10 – 7 p.m.

Location: Library Meeting Room, 1302 Davidson St., Williston

Host: Upper Missouri United Sportsmen

Contact: Wayne Aberle, 770-6902

Advisory board member: Beau Wisness, Keene, 675-2067

 

District 5 – Counties: Cass, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill

Date: April 10 – 7 p.m.

Location: City Hall, 701 First St. N., Casselton

Host: Cass County Wildlife Club

Contact: Doug Madsen, 238-3087

Advisory board member: Duane Hanson, West Fargo, 367-4249

 

District 6 – Counties: Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells

Date: April 16 – 7 p.m.

Location: Farmers Union Insurance, 1415 12th Ave. SE, Jamestown

Host: Stutsman County Wildlife Federation

Contact: Matt Opsahl, 368-9907

Advisory board member: Cody Sand, Ashley, 357-7011

 

District 8 – Counties: Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark

Date: April 16 – 7 p.m.

Location: Research Extension Center, 102 Highway 12 W., Hettinger

Host: Hettinger Rod and Gun Club

Contact: Bill Ecker, 567-2149

Advisory board member: Dwight Hecker, Dickinson, 483-4952

 

District 2 – Counties: Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, Mountrail, Pierce, Renville and Ward

Date: April 17 – 7 p.m.

Location: Verendrye Electric Cooperative, Highway 2 Bypass E., Minot

Host: Souris River Basin Long Beards

Contact: DJ Randolph, 720-2134

Advisory board member: Robert Gjellstad, Voltaire, 338-2281

 

District 7 – Counties: Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux

Date: April 17 – 7 p.m.

Location: Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck

Host: Lewis and Clark Wildlife Club

Contact: Dave Dewald, 471-1046

Advisory board member: Dave Nehring, Bismarck, 214-3184

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New Licenses Needed April 1

North Dakota anglers, trappers and hunters are reminded that new licenses for the 2018-19 season are required starting April 1.

 

Licenses can be purchased online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Once the license is processed, users will have the option to print a hard copy and/or download the license to a smart phone or mobile device, which is helpful when asked to show proof of license while hunting or fishing in rural areas that lack cellular service.

 

Licenses can also be purchased at more than 140 vendor locations throughout the state, or by calling 800-406-6409.

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In addition, spring turkey hunters are reminded that the spring turkey license will be mailed after hunters purchase a valid 2018-19 hunting license. All spring turkey hunters regardless of age are required to have a general game and habitat license in addition to their spring turkey license. Hunters age 16 and older must also have a small game license, or a combination license.

 

The 2018-19 small game, fishing and furbearer licenses are effective April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

Remaining Spring Turkey Licenses Available March 20

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters that 554 spring turkey licenses remain in six units. These remaining licenses are issued on a first-come, first-served basis beginning March 20.

 

Applications must be submitted online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply.

 

The governor’s proclamation allows a maximum of two licenses. Hunters who did not apply in the first drawing are eligible to apply for remaining licenses.

 

Licenses remain in unit 06, Bowman County; unit 19, Grant and Sioux counties and portions of Morton County; unit 25, McHenry County and portions of Pierce and Ward Counties; unit 31, Mountrail County; unit 45, Stark County; and unit 51, Burke County and portions of Renville, Bottineau and Ward counties.

 

In addition, turkey hunters should note that the Game and Fish Department will mail the spring turkey licenses after hunters purchase a valid 2018-19 hunting license. All spring turkey hunters regardless of age are required to have a general game and habitat license in addition to their spring turkey license. Hunters age 16 and older must also have a small game license, or a combination license.

 

Spring turkey hunters are encouraged to purchase their other necessary licenses well in advance so their turkey tag arrives before the season opener on April 14.

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Shed Hunting

As March snow melts away, an off-season activity that many deer hunters pursue is looking for shed antlers.

 

Both whitetail and mule deer bucks, and moose and elk, lose their antlers during winter, typically in January and into February, though occasionally these big game animals are seen with antlers still intact in late March or even early April.

 

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds shed hunters that while collection of naturally shed deer, elk and moose antlers is legal and no permit required, possession of antlers attached to the skull plate require a permit before possession is allowed. Permits may be issued by Game and Fish game wardens, and other law enforcement personnel on a case by case basis. Game warden phone numbers are all listed on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

 

“Individual antlers that are naturally separated from the skull do not require a permit,” said chief of enforcement Robert Timian. “If the antlers are not naturally separated from the skull, a permit is required before you could remove them from the field.”

 

Timian also reminds shed hunters to avoid disturbing deer that are congregated. “Deer generally disperse from larger groups this time of year, but if large groups are hanging out in good winter habitat, it’s best to avoid those areas until later in the spring,” he said.

 

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Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Applications Online

North Dakota’s elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications are available, and prospective hunters can apply online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

General lottery applications can also be submitted by calling 800-406-6409. Preferential landowner (gratis) applications must be submitted online. Paper applications are no longer available for any lottery or gratis licenses, which will also include deer gun, pronghorn, swan and fall turkey.

The deadline for applying is March 28.

A total of 408 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 19 from last year and the most since 2011.

Coordination among state Game and Fish, private landowners and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will continue to highlight elk management in hunting Unit E6.

A record 334 moose licenses are available in 2018, an increase of 89 from last year and 203 more than in 2015. Most of the increase is antlerless licenses in units M10 and M11, due to an increasing moose population in these units.

Hunting units M1C and M4 will remain closed due to a continued downward trend in moose numbers in the northeastern part of the state.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2018, depending on the sheep population. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determinedSept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed. The season was closed in 2015 due to a bacterial pneumonia outbreak.

Bighorn sheep applicants must apply for a license at the same time as moose and elk, but not for a specific unit. Once total licenses are determined for each unit in late summer, the bighorn lottery will then be held and successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.

Because the bighorn sheep application fee is not refundable as per state law, if a bighorn season is not held, applicants would not receive a refund.

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

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2017 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests

Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2017 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 92 percent for moose and 58 percent for elk.

The department issued four bighorn sheep licenses and auctioned one. All five hunters harvested a bighorn ram.

The department issued 245 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 240 hunters harvested 221 animals – 138 bulls and 83 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

 

Unit

Hunters

Bulls

Cow/Calf

Success Rate

M5

5

2

3

100

M6

10

7

1

80

M8

15

11

2

87

M9

79

38

35

92

M10

M11

77

54

50

30

22

20

94

93

The department issued 400 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 362 hunters harvested 211 elk – 112 bulls and 99 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

 

Unit

Hunters

Bulls

Cow/Calf

Success Rate

E1E

E1W

64

34

12

8

21

8

52

47

E2

120

28

38

55

E3

116

50

28

67

E4

E6

23

5

12

2

2

2

61

80

 

Youth Grant Program Application Deadline

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.

 

One change from previous years is that grants related to the high school clay target league will now come out of a separate fund, and these will be for newly formed teams in 2018 only. All other shooting events, including summer youth trapshooting leagues, are still eligible for Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters grants.

 

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 outreach biologist Pat Lothspeich at 701-328-6332.

 

The deadline to apply for a 2018 grant is April 10.

Game Warden Exam Set for Feb. 23

Individuals interested in taking the exam to select candidates for the position of a full-time temporary district game warden must register no later than Feb. 19. The test is at 10 a.m., Feb. 23, at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s main office in Bismarck.

warden

 

Applicants must register by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.

 

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree at time of hire (tentative hire date is May 1), have a valid driver’s license and a current North Dakota peace officer license, or be eligible to be licensed. Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills in communications and writing, and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

 

District game wardens enforce game and fish laws and related regulations in an assigned district and other locations as determined by the department. Wardens normally work alone under varied conditions, at all hours of the day, night and weekends. In addition to law enforcement duties, wardens assist in the areas of public relations, education programs, and hunter and boat safety education.

 

Salary through training for a district game warden is $3,800 per month. For more information, see the district game warden job announcement on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.