Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

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 are incubating eggs in April, and it’s easy to distinguish an eagle nest because of its enormous size. Johnson estimates the state has around 240 active bald eagle nests, possibly more.

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. In addition, observations can be submitted by email to ndgf@nd.gov, or call 701-328-6300.

Observers are asked to not disturb the nest, and to stay away at a safe distance. Johnson said foot traffic may disturb the bird, likely causing the eagle to leave her eggs or young unattended.

Deer Gratis Applications Online

North Dakota landowners who are interested in applying for a 2018 deer gratis license can fill out their application online starting April 2 by visiting the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. The general deer lottery and muzzleloader applications will be online in early May. The deadline for applying is June 6.

Chief of administrative services Kim Kary said the Game and Fish Department decided to open the deer gratis application period a month earlier than in past years, to provide additional time for landowners to get accustomed to the new online-only licensing system.

“Online applications is part of the plan that was initiated by the state legislature in 2015, which required Game and Fish to develop an all-electronic licensing system that went into effect two years ago,” Kary said. “When you factor in that more than 90 percent of regular lottery applications, and nearly 75 percent gratis, were already submitted online, it was the right time to eliminate paper applications and go completely online.”

Gratis applicants who have previously applied online or by paper will already have their land description entered into the system. Kary said applicants will be able to copy the land description from the previous year into this year’s application. “Landowners will still need to bring up their land description and add the number of acres for each tract,” Kary added. “In addition, any changes to the land description from the previous year will have to be made.”

Kary suggest landowners who do not have access to a computer should contact a friend, relative or neighbor who does, or find a public service location such as a public library, or stop at a Game and Fish office. “We will have a computer set up to use,” Kary said, while mentioning that the electronic system at vendors is not set up to handle lottery/gratis applications.

Spring turkey, moose, elk and bighorn sheep applications were all submitted online in 2018, and Kary said the process worked extremely well. “We will continue to require all electronic applications as we move forward, which includes pronghorn, swan and fall turkey,” she said.

 

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Test Set

The next guide and outfitter written examination is May 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.

Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Deadline March 28

North Dakotans who want to hunt elk, moose and bighorn sheep in 2018 are reminded the deadline for submitting applications is March 28.

Prospective hunters can apply online at the North Dakota 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 status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed. However, bighorn sheep applications must be submitted before the deadline. 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.

 

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 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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Whooping Crane Migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these endangered birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

 

The whooping cranes that do make their way through North Dakota are part of a population of about 400 birds that are on their way from wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles.

 

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

 

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

 

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds’ activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

 

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397, national wildlife refuges; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

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.