Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

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.

Put Garbage Where it Belongs

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds outdoor recreationists to keep public use areas, including state wildlife management areas, clean this summer by packing out all trash.


All garbage should be placed in a proper trash receptacle. If trash cans aren’t available, or are full, take the trash and dispose of it at home.


It is not uncommon to see garbage piling up around full trash containers. Styrofoam containers are not biodegradable, but yet are often found wedged in cattails, drifting or washed up on shore.


Tires, mattresses and kitchen appliances have found their way to public use areas. This illegal dumping is costly to clean up and takes a significant toll on the environment. Not only does it spoil the beauty of the land, it destroys habitat, has the potential to pollute North Dakota waters and can injure wildlife.


In addition, possession of glass bottles is prohibited on state wildlife management areas and state sovereign lands. Therefore, it is illegal for outdoor recreationists to possess glass containers on sandbars within the Missouri River System.


Littering violations should be reported by calling the Report All Poachers hotline at 701-328-9921.


A complete list of WMA regulations is available on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

have you read?

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

You’ll find a great piece by Editor Ron Wilson  Big Lake Walleye Spawn Fuels State Fisheries “Walleye spawning is driven by two things – water temperature and photoperiod (daylight),” said Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System fisheries supervisor. “Especially in Lake Sakakawea, which is a big body of water, there is warmer water in many of the bays, while the water is still cold out in the lake.”

Ron also shares thoughts from Greg Power, fisheries division chief, who revists the changes in fish spawning in 40 Years of Eggs and Change

“1979 – 40 years ago – was the first year I spawned fish at this location,” Power said. “At the time, there was a spawning shack here, but very few trees and there weren’t many anglers to speak of back in those days.”


Operation Dry Water takes a look at work by game wardens to keep boating safe this summer.

Boating under the influence is always a concern for law enforcement during North Dakota’s open-water season. With more than 64,000 registered watercraft in the state, it’s a certainty when the sun pops, weather warms and the wind dies, that not all water enthusiasts are playing it smart.

Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest for 2019 is now open for submissions.


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.

The deadline for submitting photos is Oct. 1. For more information or questions, contact Patrick Isakson, conservation biologist, at pisakson@nd.gov.

First Fish

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding parents to capture their little angler’s first catch on a specially designed First Fish certificate.

First Fish has no qualifying weights or measurements. The only requirement is the successful landing of a North Dakota fish. Certificates are available to all who request them, and have ample room for all the important information, such as name, age, lake and a short fish story, plus a blank space for a photograph big enough to contain the smile of the happiest little angler.

Free certificates are available by contacting the Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300, or email ndgf@nd.gov.

Boaters Reminded to Report Accidents

Regardless of how safe and cautious boaters are on the water, sometimes an accident does happen. If a boating accident involves injury, death or disappearance of a person, or if property damage exceeds $2,000, an accident report must be filled out and sent to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.


An accident report involving injury, death or disappearance of a person must be submitted to the department within 48 hours of the occurrence. A boat operator has five days to file a report in cases where damage to property exceeds $2,000.


A boat accident form is available by visiting the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, at any Game and Fish office or by contacting a local game warden.


Reminder: Regardless of how safe and cautious boaters are on the water, sometimes an accident does happen. If a boating accident involves injury, death or disappearance of a person, or if property damage exceeds $2,000, an accident report must be filled out and sent to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. An accident report involving injury, death or disappearance of a person must be submitted to the department within 48 hours of the occurrence. A boat operator has five days to file a report in cases where damage to property exceeds $2,000. Boating accident forms are available online at https://gf.nd.gov/gnf/boating/docs/boating-accident-report-form.pdf  or by contacting a local game warden.

Lincoln Angler’s Walleye Breaks Record

Tom Volk’s 16-pound, 9-ounce walleye caught on April 21 broke a record that was set nearly a year ago, and prior to that had gone untouched for nearly 60 years.

The Lincoln angler reeled in the 32 and one-half inch fish from shore along the Heart River in Mandan, besting the old record by three-quarters of a pound that was set last May by Neal Leier of Bismarck while fishing the Missouri River.


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.