Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Sportsman Against Hunger Accepting Goose Meat

The North Dakota Community Action Sportsmen Against Hunger program is again accepting donations of goose meat taken during the early Canada goose season. In addition, the program will accept Canada and light (snow, blue and Ross’s) goose donations during the regular waterfowl season.

080112 column early goose hunt

Similar to last year, hunters can bring in their goose meat to participating processors after removing the breast meat from the birds at home. Or, hunters may also deliver geese directly from the field to a processor, but identification such as the wing or head must remain attached to the bird until in possession of the processor.

For a list of participating processors in North Dakota, visit the North Dakota Community Action website.

Breast meat brought from home without a wing or head attached to the meat must be accompanied by written information that includes the hunter’s name, address, signature, hunting license number, date taken and species and number taken. Information forms are also available at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website.

Hunters will also fill out a brief form so that processors can keep a record on donated goose meat, the same as is required for processing any other type of wild game meat.

Since no goose carcasses or feathers are allowed inside processing facilities, hunters must be able to ensure proper disposal and clean-up of carcasses.


2016 Upland Game Seasons Summarized

The harvest of pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge last year in North Dakota was down from 2015, according to statistics compiled by the State Game and Fish Department.

Last year, more than 76,600 pheasant hunters (down 10 percent) harvested 501,100 roosters (down 15 percent), compared to 85,500 hunters and 590,700 roosters in 2015.

Counties with the highest percentage of pheasants taken by resident hunters in 2016 were Hettinger, 8.7; Morton, 5.8; Burleigh, 5.5; Stark, 5.4; and Williams, 5.3.

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Hettinger, 21.1 percent; Bowman, 10; Adams, 7.1; Divide, 5; and Emmons, 4.4.

In 2016, nearly 18,900 grouse hunters (down 18 percent) harvested 65,500 sharp-tailed grouse (down 21 percent). In 2015, 23,100 hunters took 83,000 sharptails.

Counties with the highest percentage of sharptails taken by resident hunters in 2016 were Mountrail, 8.9; McKenzie, 8.1; Grant, 7.4; Slope, 5.5; and McLean, 5.2.

Top counties for nonresident hunters were McKenzie, 9.3 percent; Mountrail, 9.1; Adams, 7.2; Hettinger, 6.9; and Grant, 6.5.

Last year, 16,900 hunters (down 9 percent) harvested 54,200 Hungarian partridge (down 9 percent). In 2015, 18,600 hunters harvested 59,600 Huns.

Counties with the highest percentage of Huns taken by resident hunters in 2016 were McKenzie, 9.6; Williams, 9.6; Ward, 9.5; Grant, 8.7; and Mountrail, 7.6.

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Stark, 8.1 percent; Divide, 7.4; McKenzie, 7.1; Grant, 6.5; and Hettinger, 6.5.

Duck Brood Numbers Down Slightly from Last Year

State Game and Fish Department biologists expect a fall duck flight from North Dakota that is down 8 percent from last year, based on observations from the annual mid-July waterfowl production survey.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish photo by Harold Umber, ND Game and Fish

This year’s brood index came in at 3.68 broods per square mile, down 5 percent from last year. The statewide average since the survey began in 1955 is 2.59 broods per square mile. Overall brood size was up 8 percent from last year.

Migratory game bird management supervisor Mike Szymanski said production was better in the northern tier of the state, with northernmost routes experiencing increased counts over last year. “Moving south and east, fewer broods were observed than in 2016,” he said.

Observers also count water areas during the summer survey, and this year’s water index was 38 percent lower than last year. Due to drought conditions and sparse precipitation since snowmelt, Szymanski said summer wetland conditions are declining.

“It was already starting to dry up when we did our spring survey, and the pattern continued,” Szymanski added. “It definitely affected how breeding pairs settled in the state. Temporary and seasonal wetlands were the first to be hit. Luckily, most medium-sized and larger wetlands were only starting to show stress at the time of the survey.”

Game and Fish biologists will conduct a separate survey in September to assess wetland conditions heading into the waterfowl hunting seasons.

Mallards, gadwall and blue-winged teal are the top three duck species that nest in North Dakota, and together they accounted for nearly 75 percent of the broods observed in the summer survey. Mallard brood numbers were down about 13 percent from last year, gadwalls were down about 4 percent, and blue-winged teal broods were unchanged. Blue-winged teal are typically the most prevalent breeding duck in North Dakota.

In addition, pintail brood numbers were down 65 percent. However, shovelers were up 44 percent.

The Game and Fish summer duck brood survey involves 18 routes that cover all sectors of the state, except west and south of the Missouri River. Biologists count and classify duck broods and water areas within 220 yards on each side of the road.

The survey started in the mid-1950s, and all routes used today have been in place since 1965.

2017 Small Game and Furbearer Regulations Set

North Dakota’s 2017 small game and furbearer regulations are set and most season structures are similar to last year.


Notable changes include:

Fur harvesters will have an opportunity to take river otters, with a season limit of 15 taken by traps or cable devices. A limit of one per person is allowed during this season.


As per North Dakota Century Code, snares (cable devices) must be permanently affixed with a metal or plastic tag to include the person’s name, address and telephone number, or an equipment number.


The delayed pheasant opening area in Williams and McKenzie counties is eliminated. The pheasant season will open statewide Oct. 7.


Prairie chicken and sage grouse seasons will remain closed due to low populations.


In accordance with state law, nonresidents are not allowed to hunt on Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas from Oct. 7-13.


Hunters should refer to the North Dakota 2017-18 Small Game and Furbearer guides (available mid-August) for more details on small game and furbearer seasons. Printed waterfowl guides will be available in early September.


Opening and closing season dates, and daily and possession limits.

North Dakota Swan Hunt Applications Online Only

Swan hunters who are interested in applying for a 2017 license must submit an online application through the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications are not available this year.

Tundra Swans photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

North Dakota residents and nonresidents are eligible to apply. The resident swan license is $10, while the nonresident fee is $30. The deadline for applying is Aug. 16.

The statewide tundra swan hunting season is Sept. 30 – Dec. 31. A total of 2,700 licenses are available. Successful applicants will receive a tag to take one swan during the season. Since swans are classified as waterfowl, nonresidents may hunt them only during the period their nonresident waterfowl license is valid.

Early Canada Goose Season Announced

North Dakota’s early Canada goose season is set, and bag limits and licensing requirements are the same as last year. However, the west boundary of the Missouri River Canada Goose zone, north of N.D. Highway 200, is extended to N.D. Highway 8.

The season will open Tuesday, Aug. 15 and continue through Sept. 15, except in the Missouri River Zone where the season ends Sept. 7. The early Canada goose season has a limit of 15 daily and 45 in possession.

Limits and shooting hours for the early season are different from the regular season. Shooting hours during the early season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily.

Residents need a $5 early Canada goose license and a general game and habitat license. Also, residents age 16 and older need a small game license. Nonresidents need only a $50 early Canada goose license, and the license is valid statewide without counting against the 14-day regular season license.

A federal duck stamp for hunters age 16 and older, and Harvest Information Program certification, are both required beginning Sept. 1.

Hunters who do not HIP certify when they buy a North Dakota license, can add it later through the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, or by calling 888-634-4798 and recording the HIP number on their printed license. Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required in each state only once per year.

Waterfowl rest areas, closed to hunting during the regular season, are open during the early season. Most land in these rest areas is private, so hunters may need permission to hunt.

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In 2016, North Dakota early Canada goose season hunters bagged more than 36,000 birds – the sixth consecutive year hunters reached that number. Top counties for total harvest were Ramsey, McIntosh, Kidder, Benson and Stutsman.

The early hunting season is intended to reduce local Canada goose numbers. Despite liberalized regulations the past several years, with longer seasons, large bag limits and expanded shooting hours, the statewide population remains high, with numbers well above population goals.

For additional information and regulations, hunters should refer to the Game and Fish Department website.

Some Hunter Education Classes Available

Adults and children looking to take a hunter education class in 2017 are reminded to enroll at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Hunter education coordinator John Mazur said the majority of classes were already held, but classes will still be added throughout the year as they become finalized.

“Our volunteer instructors will be adding classes, but not nearly as many as we move toward the fall,” Mazur said. “That’s why it is important to monitor our website and to act quickly when a class suits your needs.”

Interested students must click on the Buy and Apply link, hunter education and then “list of hunter education courses.” Classes are listed by city, and can also be sorted by start date. To register for a class, click on “enroll” next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.

Individuals interested in receiving a notice by email when each hunter education class is added can click on the “subscribe to news and alerts” link found below the news section on the Game and Fish home page. Check the box labeled “hunter education” under the education program updates.

In addition, SMS text notifications of new classes can be sent directly to a cell phone. Simply text “NDGF HunterClass” to 468311 to subscribe to this feature.

State law requires anyone born after December 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old, and children can take the class at age 11.


Have You Seen? North Dakota Outdoors Webcast – 07/20/2017

Watch the video right here on a North Dakota  salmon update

Lake Sakakawea has some very deep, cold water that is unused by most fish, so in 1970 the Department began stocking salmon in the lake. Now, each year from about mid-July through August, anglers can enjoy some great salmon fishing in Lake Sakakawea. Learn more about the lake’s salmon and the salmon stocking program in this week’s webcast.