Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Moose and Elk Lotteries Held, Bighorn Sheep in September

North Dakota’s moose and elk lotteries have been held, and individual results are available by visiting My Account at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

A total of 15,516 applications were received for bighorn sheep, 19,290 for elk and 22,456 for moose.

While in My Account, successful applicants must pay for a moose and/or elk license. In addition, a 2019-20 general game and habitat license, or combination license, is required. The moose/elk license will be mailed after the required hunting licenses are purchased.

Hunters in moose unit M10 and elk unit E6 are reminded of restrictions that prohibit transporting the whole carcass, including the head and spinal column, outside of the unit. For more information, visit the chronic wasting disease page on the Game and Fish website.

The bighorn sheep lottery is scheduled in September, after summer population surveys are completed and total licenses are determined. Once the lottery is held, successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.

Paddlefish Snagging Season Opens May 1

North Dakota’s 2019 paddlefish snagging season opens May 1 and is scheduled to continue through May 21. However, depending on the overall harvest, an early in-season closure may occur with a 24-hour notice issued by the state Game and Fish Department.


Legal snagging hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. One tag per snagger will be issued. Snagging is legal in all areas of the Yellowstone River in North Dakota, and in the area of the Missouri River lying west of the U.S. Highway 85 bridge to the Montana border, excluding that portion from the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) downstream to the upper end of the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area (river mile 1,565).


If the season closes early because the harvest cap is reached, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to four days immediately following the early closure, but not to extend beyond May 21. Only snaggers with a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag are eligible to participate. Only a limited area at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers is open to this extended season snagging opportunity.


Mandatory harvest of all snagged paddlefish is required on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On these days, all paddlefish caught must be kept and tagged immediately. All paddlefish snagged and tagged must be removed from the river by 7 p.m. of each snagging day. Any fish left at the Confluence fish cleaning caviar operation after 8 p.m. the day they were snagged will be considered abandoned and the snagger is subject to a fine.


Snag-and-release of all paddlefish is required on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. Participants during snag-and-release-only days need to have in their possession a current season, unused paddlefish snagging tag. Use or possession of gaffs is prohibited on snag-and-release-only days, and, if it occurs, during the snag-and-release extension period.


All paddlefish snaggers must possess a paddlefish tag in addition to a valid fishing license. Cost of a paddlefish tag is $10 for residents and $25.50 for nonresidents. Lost or destroyed tags will not be replaced.


Addresses and phone numbers of vendors selling tags:


Bismarck Game and Fish Office

100 N. Bismarck Expressway

Bismarck, ND 58501



Sportsman’s Warehouse

925 32nd Ave. W.

Williston, ND  58801



Scenic Sports

1201 E. Broadway

Williston, ND 58801



Runnings Farm and Fleet

2003 Third Ave. W.

Dickinson, ND 58601



Rosie’s Food and Gas
204 S. Main
Dickinson, ND 58601


J Sports Sporting Goods

100 Fourth Ave. NE

Watford City, ND 58854



Big Boy’s Toys

300 N. Main St.

Watford City, ND 58854


Bighorn Sheep Population Up from Last Year

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 2018 bighorn sheep survey, completed by recounting lambs in March, revealed a minimum of 283 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, up 7 percent from 2017 and equal to the five-year average.


Altogether, biologists counted 84 rams, 161 ewes and 38 lambs. Not included are approximately 20 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann was pleased to see an increase in the survey, following a decline in 2017.


“The increase in the 2018 count reflects lessening effects of bacterial pneumonia that was detected in 2014,” Wiedmann said.


The northern badlands population increased 9 percent from 2017 and was the second highest count on record. The southern badlands population declined again to the lowest level since 1999.


“The total count of adult rams declined in 2018 but adult ewes increased,” Wiedmann said. “Most encouragingly was the significant increase in the lamb count and recruitment rate following record lows in 2016 and 2017.”


Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.


“Fortunately, annual survival rates of adult bighorns are similar to those prior to the die-off and lamb survival is improving, which could indicate the population is becoming somewhat resilient to the deadly pathogens first observed in 2014,” Wiedmann said. “The next few years will be important in determining if the state’s population shows signs of recovering from the disease outbreak, or if the pathogens are likely to persist and cause a long-term population decline.”


Game and Fish wildlife veterinarian Dr. Charlie Bahnson said that four of the 15 adult bighorns tested for the deadly pathogens last winter were positive.


A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2019, unless there is a recurrence of significant adult mortality from bacterial pneumonia. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after the summer population survey is completed.


Game and Fish issued three licenses in 2018 and all hunters were successful in harvesting a ram.

Game and Fish Sponsors Earth Day Project

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again celebrating Earth Day by sponsoring clean-up days on publicly owned or managed lands.


With Earth Day recognized April 22, each member of a school, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, 4-H club or youth organization who participates in cleaning up public lands through May will receive a specifically designed conservation patch.


Last winter the Game and Fish Department sponsored a contest for students ages 6-18 to design a North Dakota Earth Day Patch. Winners in the three age categories were Damien Twinn of Fort Yates (6-9), Kalen Kinzell of Courtenay (10-13), and Daniel Schumacher of Linton (14-18). Schumacher’s design was chosen as the contest winner and will be used on this year’s Earth Day patch.


Groups participating in the Earth Day project are encouraged to take the following precautions to ensure safety: keep young people away from highways, lakes and rivers; and only allow older participants to pick up broken glass.


Interested participants are asked to contact Pat Lothspeich at 328-6332 to receive a reporting form for their project.

NASP State Tournament Results

A record 820 archers competed in the North Dakota National Archery in the Schools Program state bull’s-eye tournament March 22-23 in Minot.


Oakes students claimed top honors in the elementary (grades 4-6) and middle school (grades 7-8) divisions, while Hankinson received the top prize in the high school (grades 9-12) division.


The overall male winner was Barnes County North archer Casey Everson, while Hankinson student Kirstan Loewen claimed the top spot in the female division.


Winning teams and the top 10 individuals qualify for the national tournaments, scheduled for May in Louisville, Ky and June in Salt Lake City, UT. The Game and Fish Department and North Dakota Youth Archery Advisory Council contribute a total of $3,000 in travel assistance to the first place team in each division, and $1,000 to the overall male and female individual winners. In addition, a total of $20,000 in college scholarships was awarded by the NDYAAC to the top five overall scorers in both boys and girls divisions.


Qualifying for nationals in each division are:


High school boys – 1) Casey Everson, Barnes County North; 2) Joshua Wiebusch, Wahpeton; 3) Chase Bladow, Hankinson; 4) Mason Kamlitz, Oakes; 5) Andrew Hill, Oakes; 6) Jaden Payne, Glenburn; 7) Cheyne Meyer, Hankinson; 8) Austin Bladow, Hankinson; 9) Erich Scheffert, Oakes; 10) Dalton Gartner, Edgeley.


High school girls – 1) Gracie Gunderson, Medina; 2) Ainsley Helgerson, Oakes; 3) Sydni Berg, Edgeley; 4) Josephine Nelson, North Sargent; 5) Avery Trittin, Lidgerwood; 6) Grace Neameyer, Mt. Pleasant; 7) Chase McFarland, North Sargent; 8) Mary Goroski, Wahpeton; 9) Octavia Ralph-Martin, Griggs County Central; 10) Jaden Gilje, North Sargent.


Middle school boys – 1) Jake Hennings, Bottineau; 2) Colin Olson, North Sargent; 3) Clancy Zimbelman, Oakes; 4) Hunter Genre, New Rockford-Sheyenne; 5) Brady Sand; Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg; 6) Hunter Kamlitz, Oakes; 7) Brady Haugen, Griggs County Central; 8) Nick Hansen, North Sargent; 9) Samuel Abel, South Prairie; 10) Calvin Satrom, Hope-Page.


Middle school girls – 1) Kirstan Loewen, Hankinson; 2) Kaitlyn Folkman, Oakes; 3) Rylee Suhr, Griggs County Central; 4) Eve Thompson, Hope-Page; 5) Ariana Onchuck, Hankinson; 6) Allison Thomas, Pingree-Buchanan; 7) Zoey Bohnenstingl, Lidgerwood; 8) Jewels Hamling, Hankinson; 9) Kyria Dockter, New Rockford-Sheyenne; 10) Bethany Schafer, Lidgerwood.


Elementary boys – 1) Brady Hanson, Edgeley; 2) Braysen Sagert, Oakes; 3) Alex Weisenburger, New Rockford-Sheyenne; 4) Parker Deering, Oakes; 5) William Bergquist, Wilton; 6) Adam Ryun, Medina; 7) Hayden Risty, Wilton; 8) Ryan Roeder, Hankinson; 9) Jayson Schlenker, Barnes County North; 10) Tucker Deering, Oakes.


Elementary girls – 1) Danica Onchuck, Hankinson; 2) Shayle Zimbelman, Oakes; 3) Braylyn McKown, Wyndmere; 4) Claire Wehseler, North Sargent; 5) Matilda Moch, Edgeley; 6) Mackenzie Nogowski, North Sargent; 7) Jourdyn Buchholz, Griggs County Central; 8) Kiara Frederick, Wilton; 9) Claire Leidy, Wilton; 10) Logan Cudworth, New Rockford-Sheyenne.


In addition, 570 archers competed in a NASP 3-D Challenge, run simultaneously with the bull’s-eye tournament.


Overall male and female winners were Clancy Zimbelman, Oakes, and Josephine Nelson, North Sargent.


Austin Bladow of Hankinson was the winner of a pronghorn hunt in Wyoming, determined by a shoot-out after placing among the top three boys and girls final score.


Top performers in the 3-D high school boys were 1) Cheyen Meyer, Hankinson; 2) Austin Bladow, Hankinson; 3) Mason Kamlitz, Oakes.


3-D high school girls – 1) Josephine Nelson, North Sargent; 2) Avery Trittin, Lidgerwood; 3) Ainsley Helgerson, Oakes.


3-D middle school boys – 1) Clancy Zimbelman, Oakes; 2) Hunter Genre, New Rockford-Sheyenne; 3) Tommy Baldwin, Lidgerwood.


3-D middle school girls – 1) Mackenzie Motter, Hope-Page; 2) Ariana Onchuck, Hankinson; 3) Kirstan Loewen, Hankinson.


3-D elementary boys – 1) Braysen Sagert, Oakes; 2) Wayland Sabinash, Kensal; 3) Parker Deering, Oakes.


3-D elementary girls – 1) Danica Onchuck, Hankinson; 2) Shayle Zimbelman, Oakes; 3) Braylyn McKown, Wyndmere.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Test Set

The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 18 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.

Deer Gratis Application Online

Landowners who are interested in applying for a 2019 deer gratis license can fill out their application online by visiting the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. The general deer lottery and muzzleloader applications will be available online in early May. The deadline for applying is June 5.

Chief of administrative services Kim Kary said similar to last year, the Game and Fish Department is opening deer gratis applications a month earlier than prior years to allow additional time for landowners to apply online 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,” Kary said. “However, any changes with the land description from last year’s application must be made prior to submitting the 2019 application.”

Applications must be submitted online using a computer or smartphone. Kary suggests applicants without access to online services can submit the online application at any Game and Fish Department office or public service location, such as a library, or request help from a friend, relative or neighbor. License vendor systems are unable to process deer gratis applications.

Kary said moving to an all-electronic licensing system was initiated by the state legislature in 2015. “It has worked well for both the agency and customer by providing a user-friendly experience for the hunter and has improved the department’s time to deliver lottery results and mail tags,” she said.

Report Bald Eagle Nest Sightings

The state Game and Fish Department is asking for help in locating active bald eagle nests in North Dakota.


Game and Fish conservation biologist Sandra Johnson said the department is looking for locations of nests with eagles present, not individual eagle sightings.


Eagles lay eggs in early-to-mid March, and hatch about a month later. Johnson said it’s easy to distinguish an eagle nest because of its enormous size.


“And you don’t have to travel far to find one, as we have around 270 active bald eagle nests, and possibly more, in the state,” Johnson said, while noting that in 2008 North Dakota had only 50 active nests.


Eagle nests are observed in more than three-quarters of the counties in the state, mostly near streams and mid- to large-sized lakes. However, they are also found in unique areas such as shelterbelts surrounded by cropland or pasture.


Nest observations should be reported online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Observers are asked to not disturb the nest, and to stay a safe distance away. Johnson said foot traffic may disturb the bird, likely causing the eagle to leave her eggs or young unattended.

have you read? March-April ND Outdoors

The March/April  2019 North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find ND Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand’s column Matters Of Opinioninside the cover: While you’ll read and hear about a number of lakes winterkilling across North Dakota’s landscape, the fallout of snow covering our waters for such a long period of time was anticipated. This is simply the nature of things on the Northern Plains where Mother Nature reminds us often who is in charge.


Greg Power, Fisheries Division Chief, revisits  A Fishing Report Card

In the past 15 years, North Dakota has experienced characteristic extreme shifts in weather, which influence short- and long-term fishing opportunities in the state. Periodically during that time, I’ve provided a North Dakota fishing report card to assess how well the state’s fisheries are doing.


I think you’ll enjoy and appreciate Ron Wilson Back Cast

I worked with a newspaper reporter years ago who proudly hung his hat and young career on a two-word headline that warned readers of an impending winter storm that promised inches of snow, strong winds and falling temperatures.

The “Brace Yourselves” headline ran on the front page above the fold in large type that barked at passing readers through the windows of the yellow newspaper boxes. His two-word alarm was simple, to the point and, most importantly, accurate. Lots of snow fell, the wind blew, and it was cold.