Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Pronghorn Applications due Aug. 8

Prospective pronghorn hunters are reminded the deadline to apply for the 2018 hunting season is Aug. 8.

 

Applicants can apply online by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or by calling 800-406-6409. Paper applications are not available.

 

A total of 1,075 licenses are available in 10 open units – 1A, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4C, 5A, 6A and 7A. All licenses are valid for any pronghorn.

 

The bow-only portion of the season is from Aug. 31 (noon) – Sept. 23. Anyone who draws a license can hunt pronghorn with a bow in the unit printed on the license.

 

From Oct. 5 (noon) – Oct. 21, 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 2018 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 2018 have the option to purchase a bonus point on the application.

 

Applications for Remaining Doe Licenses due Aug. 8

North Dakota residents who were unsuccessful in the initial deer lottery are reminded the deadline to submit an application for a remaining doe license is Aug. 8.

Unsuccessful applicants must apply online by visiting the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. More than 3,000 antlerless licenses remain in 11 units.

In addition, hunters who receive a 2018 deer license will be sent their license after purchasing a valid 2018-19 general game and habitat license, or combination license, which is also required to hunt deer. Hunters who have already purchased this 2018-19 license do not have to purchase another one.

Duck Brood Numbers Up from Last Year

State Game and Fish Department biologists expect a fall duck flight from North Dakota that is up 12 percent from last year and the 20th highest since 1965, based on observations from the annual mid-July waterfowl production survey.

This year’s duck brood index was up 37 percent from last year, and showed 5.11 broods per square mile, an increase of 39 percent. Average brood size is unchanged at 6.76 ducklings per brood.

Migratory game bird management supervisor Mike Szymanski said conditions were pretty dry after the May breeding duck survey, which indicated duck numbers and wetlands were down. “But most of the state received abundant rainfall from late May through early July, which was encouraging for the summer survey,” he said.

The July survey showed duck production in the northern tier of the state was very good, and Szymanski mentioned even areas further south were still quite favorable. “We have been seeing good numbers of broods since the summer survey, and especially lots of young birds, which indicates renesting efforts were very strong,” Szymanski said.

Mallards, gadwall and blue-winged teal are the top three duck species that nest in North Dakota, and together they accounted for about 75 percent of the broods observed in the summer survey. Mallard brood numbers were up about 22 percent from last year, gadwalls were up about 47 percent, and blue-winged teal broods were up 45 percent. Blue-winged teal are typically the most prevalent breeding duck in North Dakota. In addition, pintail brood numbers were up 142 percent.

Observers also count water areas during the summer survey, and this year’s water index was up 11 percent from last year. Szymanski said wetlands in the north central were still below average, but other areas were close to or slightly above average.

“Wetland conditions are still on the dry side, as the early summer rains slowed down quite a bit,” he added. “The larger basins are in pretty good shape, and even some of the local smaller basins that were dry this spring were filled from the earlier rainfall. But the small, shallow basins are beginning to show the effects and have the potential to dry up before the hunting season begins.”

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

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.

Have you read? July ND Outdoors magazine

The 2018 July  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 Opinion inside the cover.

In summer 1993, things changed. And as many of us in North Dakota remember, we were certainly ready for change.In July of that year, a month that still remains the wettest month in our state’s recorded history, the heavens opened up and kicked off what would be the end of a 5-year drought.

 

Communications Supervisor Craig Bihrle continues on with  Diary of a Wet Cycle

Priority Lakes came about after an honest assessment of what 5 years of drought had done to the state’s fishing resources. Of about 180 fishing waters in the state at the time, Game and Fish was going to focus its efforts on 60 of them, “…until water levels return to normal.”

Ron Wilson Back Cast gives his personal perspective on the change in North Dakota landscape from 25 years ago.

It’s been said that bashing the weather is a waste of words, considering many of us couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change now and again.

 

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, one major change from last year is that the state Game and Fish Department has restructured the Canada goose hunting zones.

 

Migratory game bird management supervisor Mike Szymanski said the new structure addresses depredation issues and provides additional hunting opportunities.

 

“Basically, our worst Canada goose-landowner conflicts are in the eastern half of the state and getting those extra days back in September gets some more harvest pressure on those birds,” Szymanski said.

 

The Canada goose hunting season is divided into three zones – Missouri River, western and eastern. The Missouri River Canada goose zone has the same boundary as last year, while the western zone has the same boundary as the high plains duck unit, excluding the Missouri River zone. The eastern zone has the same boundary as the low plains duck unit.

 

The early season opens on Aug. 15 in all three zones. Closing dates are Sept. 7 in the Missouri River zone, Sept. 15 in the western zone and Sept. 21 in the eastern zone.

 

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, while the zone boundaries will remain the same. 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. Those who HIP 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.

 

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, gf.nd.gov.

Howie Receives Professional of the Year Award

North Dakota Game and Fish Department assistant private land coordinator Doug Howie was recently honored with the 2018 Professional of the Year Award by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

According to the WAFWA press release, “Howie was recognized for his consistent professionalism and resourcefulness in administering North Dakota’s Private Lands Open to Sportsmen program. PLOTS is one of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s highest profile programs, and Howie is a critical player in its success. PLOTS is widely recognized as one of the most successful access programs in the country, and Howie’s dedication has impacted thousands of sportsmen and women.”

The award was announced July 16 at WAFWA’s annual conference in Eugene, OR.

WAFWA represents 24 western states and Canadian provinces, encompassing more than 40 percent of North America including two-thirds of the United States. Recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife, WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

Anglers Should Fish Responsibly, Keep Fish Caught in Deep Water

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel encourage anglers to keep fish caught from depths of more than 25 feet, rather than practice catch-and-release.

Scott Gangl, Game and Fish fisheries management section leader, said while catch-and-release is often encouraged under the right conditions, fish reeled in from this depth will likely die if released.

“Fish caught from deep water likely won’t survive because of the extreme change in water pressure,” Gangl said.

Change in water pressure will cause the swim bladder to expand, Gangl said, which means fish can no longer control balance. In addition, he said other internal injuries will likely happen, such as ruptured blood vessels or internal organs.

This can happen in any deep water body, Gangl said, but it is especially noteworthy for this time of the year in Lake Sakakawea.

“As water warms during summer, fish tend to move to deeper, cooler water,” he added. “This is particularly true for walleye in the big lake, where walleye follow their primary forage of rainbow smelt to deeper depths as summer progresses.”

Anglers fishing at least 25 feet deep should make the commitment to keep what they catch, and once they reach their limit to stop fishing at that depth.

“Our simple message is for anglers to keep fish that are caught from these depths, or to fish in shallower water when practicing catch-and-release,” Gangl said.

National Campaign Focuses on Boating Under the Influence

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will again participate in Operation Dry Water as part of a nationally coordinated effort to increase knowledge about the dangers of boating under the influence. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents and deaths associated with alcohol and drug use on our waterways.

Operation Dry Water weekend, June 29-July 1, is the national weekend of heightened enforcement effort directed at boating under the influence laws and recreational boater outreach.

While informing and educating boaters about the hazards and negative outcomes associated with boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a year-round effort, on ODW weekend the Game and Fish Department’s game wardens will be focused on the water informing boaters about safe boating practices, and removing impaired operators from the water.

Last year during ODW weekend in North Dakota, wardens checked 3,905 boaters and 1,428 vessels, and issued 222 citations. Of that, 175 were boating citations.

“Last year was our second year for participating in Operation Dry Water,” said Jackie Lundstrom, the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement operations supervisor. “A lot of boaters our officers checked had heard about the program and were glad we were out.”

Tips to staying safe on the water:

·         Boat sober – alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.

·         Wear your life jacket – 85 percent of drowning victims nationwide were not wearing a life jacket.

·         Take a boating safety education course - 71 percent of deaths nationwide occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

 

Have you read? June ND Outdoors magazine

The 2018 June 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 Opinion inside the cover. In past column’s I’ve written for this space, I’ve often encouraged people to simply get outdoors and enjoy what North Dakota offers. The plants, animals and scenic overlooks that are featured in these pages are the reasons why I’ve long cheered for readers to venture outside, no matter the time of year.

The special  North Dakota Outdoors-June 2018 Photo Edition leads off a great visual experience with a look at the evolution to digital imagery. Fifteen years ago this summer, this photo of a juvenile rooster pheasant, taken at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, was the first native digital image to earn a space on the cover of North Dakota OUTDOORS. We say “native” because at the time slides and black-and-white prints were scanned into digital files for use in the magazine, but this photo was taken with a digital camera.

Ron Wilson Back Cast explains this edition’s special meaning to him

To say that I anticipated decades ago that I’d be in a position to help serve readers with these images of North Dakota’s outdoors 10 times a year would be a lie. To come completely clean, I didn’t anticipate a place so once unfamiliar, so alien from where my roots were initially planted, to completely become what it has.