Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Order 2020 OUTDOORS Calendar

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking orders for its North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar, the source for all hunting season and application dates for 2020. Along with outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, it also includes sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

 

To order online, visit buy and apply at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov., or send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Be sure to include a three-line return address with your order, or the post office may not deliver our return mailing.

 

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers will automatically receive it in the mail.

Youth Pheasant Weekend Oct. 5-6

North Dakota’s two-day youth pheasant season is Oct. 5-6. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger may hunt roosters statewide.

Resident youth hunters, regardless of age, must possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. Otherwise, nonresident youth hunters must purchase a nonresident small game license.

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Youth ages 12 and older need to have passed a certified hunter education course. The daily bag limit and all other regulations for the regular pheasant season apply.

An adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter in the field. The adult may not carry a firearm.

See the North Dakota 2019-20 Hunting and Trapping Guide for additional information.

Whooping Crane Migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their fall 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 each fall are part of a population of about 500 birds that are on their way from their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, 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 Audubon, 701-442-5474, 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.

Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest

The deadline for submitting entries in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest is Oct. 1.

The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as plants/insects. An overall winning photograph will be chosen, with the number of place winners in each category determined by the number of qualified entries.

The contest guidelines are the same as in previous years, but the process for submitting photos has changed. This year, photographers will provide information and upload images through the Game and Fish Department website only, at gf.nd.gov/photo-contest.

Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota.

By submitting an entry, photographers grant permission to Game and Fish to publish winning photographs in North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine, and on the department’s website.

For more information or questions, contact Patrick Isakson, conservation biologist, at pisakson@nd.gov.

This weeks Game and Fish news

  • First-Come, First-Served Deer Gun Licenses Available Aug. 8
  • Pronghorn Applications due Aug. 7
  • Hunters Reminded of Baiting Restrictions
  • Equipment on Wildlife Management Areas
  • Game Warden Exam Set for Sept. 6

First-Come, First-Served Deer Gun Licenses Available Aug. 8

More than 3,000 antlerless deer gun licenses are still available in 12 units after the North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently completed its second lottery drawing.

Antlerless licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m. Central Time on Aug. 8. Residents and nonresidents who have not already received a lottery or landowner license are eligible to apply, by visiting the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

These licenses are valid only during the regular deer gun season, Nov. 8-24.

Remaining deer gun licenses

(B = Any Antlerless   D = Antlerless Whitetail   F = Antlerless Mule Deer)

Unit     Type     Available
3A1       B     48
3B2      D     50
3B2      F    152
3B3      D     11
3C      D     92
3D1      B     28
3D1      D    184
3D2      D     41
3E1      D     45
3E2      D     82
3F1      B    106
3F1      D    442
3F2      B    739
3F2      D    740
4E      D     87
4F      D    341
4F      F    126

 


Pronghorn Applications due Aug. 7

Hunters are reminded the deadline to apply for the 2019 pronghorn hunting season is Aug. 7.

Applicants can apply online by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or by calling 800-406-6409.

A total of 1,330 licenses are available in 12 open units – 1A, 1D, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4C, 5A, 6A, 7A and 10A. All licenses are valid for any pronghorn, except in 4A where doe/fawn licenses are also available.

The bow-only portion of the season is from Aug. 30 (noon) – Sept. 22. Anyone who draws a license can hunt pronghorn with a bow in the unit printed on the license.

From Oct. 4 (noon) – Oct. 20, hunters who still have a valid license can use legal firearms or archery equipment, and again must stay in the assigned unit.

The pronghorn license fee is $30 for ages 16 and older, and $10 for under age 16.

Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply for a 2019 pronghorn license. Hunters who have accumulated bonus points and choose not to apply this year will not lose their points, but will not accrue one for next year. However, hunters who do not want a license in 2019 have the option to purchase a bonus point on the application.

Successful applicants should note that Game and Fish will not mail pronghorn licenses until a valid 2019-20 hunting license is purchased. All pronghorn hunters, regardless of age, are required to have a general game and habitat license in addition to their pronghorn license. Hunters who have already purchased this 2019-20 license do not have to purchase another one.


Hunters Reminded of Baiting Restrictions

Hunters are reminded it is unlawful to hunt big game over bait, or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, on both public and private land in deer units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of N.D. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.

The restriction is in place to help slow the spread of chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked. Hunting units in the northwest have been added to the restriction zone, following the detection of CWD in those areas this past year.

Hunting over bait is defined as the placement and/or use of baits for attracting big game and other wildlife to a specific location for the purpose of hunting. Baits include but are not limited to grains, minerals, salts, fruits, vegetables, hay, or any other natural or manufactured foods.

In addition, placing of bait for any purpose is prohibited on all North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas. Hunting big game over bait is also prohibited on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas, U.S. Forest Service national grasslands, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands, and all North Dakota state school, state park and state forest service lands.

More information on CWD can be found at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.


Equipment on Wildlife Management Areas

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters that tree stands, ground blinds and game cameras cannot be placed on state wildlife management areas prior to Aug. 20.

Equipment set out prior to Aug. 20, or left on a WMA after Jan. 31, is considered abandoned property and is subject to removal.

In addition, an equipment registration number, or the owner’s name, address and telephone number, must be displayed on all equipment requiring identification.

Owners can generate an equipment registration number by visiting My Account at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. One registration number will be issued for all equipment that requires identification.


Game Warden Exam Set for Sept. 6

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test is at 10 a.m., Sept. 6, at the department’s main office in Bismarck.

Applicants must register to take the exam no later than Sept. 2 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, 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 $3,900 per month. For more information, see the district game warden job announcement on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

Spring Grouse Counts Reported

North Dakota Game and Fish Department upland game biologists have summarized the spring survey results for sharp-tailed grouse, ruffed grouse and sage grouse.

 

Statistics from the spring sharp-tailed grouse census indicate a 9 percent increase in the number of male grouse counted compared to last year.

 

Statewide, 2,267 sharptails were observed on spring dancing grounds this year compared to 2,088 in 2018. Male grouse recorded per square mile increased from 2 to 2.2. Nearly 800 square miles were covered.

 

“Sharptails are beginning to rebound after the 2017 drought,” said Jesse Kolar, upland game management supervisor. “Historically, grouse populations have rebounded within three to five years after reaching low points in the population cycle.”

 

Survey results indicate a 25 percent decrease in the number of ruffed grouse drums heard compared to 2018. The number of drums heard per stop was 0.53, down from 0.71.

 

“The majority of the trend was due to declines in the Turtle Mountains, which was down 41 percent,” Kolar said. “The number of drums heard per stop in the Pembina Hills this year was nearly four times higher than in 2018.”

 

A total of 29 male sage grouse were counted on eight leks this spring, a 7 percent increase over the 27 males counted on five leks in 2018. North Dakota does not offer a hunting season on sage grouse due to a low population.

 

“The count was a little higher than last year, but the population and number of active leks remain far below the population objective of 250 males,” Kolar said.

 

Game and Fish plans to continue translocating sage grouse to North Dakota through next year, Kolar said, and will determine a path forward after observing the outcomes from the two remaining translocation seasons.

 

“It is unlikely we will reopen the sage grouse hunting season in the foreseeable future,” he said.

 

The spring grouse census serves as relative indices of breeding populations and are largely representative of production and recruitment from the previous year. For sharptails, they can be used in combination with reproduction data – brood surveys are completed in late summer – to predict fall populations.

have you read? FREE July ND Outdoors Magazine

The July 2019 North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find a great piece by editor Ron Wilson  The Value of Helping Hands You can hardly swing a gillnet at a North Dakota Game and Fish Department gathering without hitting a full-time staffer who was employed as a seasonal worker earlier in their career. By most counts, more than half of the 163 full-time Game and Fish Department employees hired on as seasonal staff during their college years.

 

Alicia Underlee Nelson takes a look at One of the longest trails in the nation which starts in North Dakota. The North Country National Scenic Trail will span more than 4,600 miles (more than twice the length of the Appalachian Trail) between Lake Sakakawea State Park and Crown Point, New York on the western shore of Lake Champlain.
Fisheries biologist Randy Hiltner shares his insight Managing Fish and Angling Opportunities in the Northeast The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s northeast fisheries management district encompasses all or parts of 16 counties. Included are several large natural lakes, such as Devils Lake, Stump Lake and the Lake Irvine complex.

Spring Breeding Duck Numbers Tallied

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 72nd annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 3.4 million birds, up 20 percent from last year.

 

Migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski said the index was the 22nd highest on record and stands 40 percent above the long-term (1948-2018) average.

 

“Breeding duck numbers generally trend with wetland conditions,” Szymanski said. “The large number of ducks in North Dakota this spring can again be attributed to the large number of ducks that we have been producing for many years.”

 

Survey results indicate numbers for all primary species were up from their 2018 estimates, including mallards (16 percent), green-winged teal (81 percent) and ruddy ducks (57 percent). All other ducks ranged from 5 (scaup) to 40 percent (pintails) above last year’s numbers. All species, with the exception of pintails and blue-winged teal, were above the 71-year average.

 

The number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was substantially higher than last year, as figures show the spring water index is up 46 percent. 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.

 

“Water conditions ranged from poor to excellent across the state,” Szymanski said. “Excellent wetland conditions in the south and east quickly deteriorated moving into the north central region, but are fair to good in the northwest.”

 

Szymanski said concerns about habitat remain, as nesting cover in North Dakota continues to decline. “Waterfowl breeding habitats are under extreme pressure, and expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts and the continual conversion of habitat to other uses can only further reduce waterfowl production in the state,” he added.

 

The July brood survey provides a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall, Szymanski said, though hunting success is also influenced by bird movements before and during hunting seasons, and weather patterns during the fall migration.