Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

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.




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



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.


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.

Remaining Spring Turkey Licenses Available March 20

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters that 554 spring turkey licenses remain in six units. These remaining licenses are issued on a first-come, first-served basis beginning March 20.


Applications must be submitted online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply.


The governor’s proclamation allows a maximum of two licenses. Hunters who did not apply in the first drawing are eligible to apply for remaining licenses.


Licenses remain in unit 06, Bowman County; unit 19, Grant and Sioux counties and portions of Morton County; unit 25, McHenry County and portions of Pierce and Ward Counties; unit 31, Mountrail County; unit 45, Stark County; and unit 51, Burke County and portions of Renville, Bottineau and Ward counties.


In addition, turkey hunters should note that the Game and Fish Department will mail the spring turkey licenses 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.


Spring turkey hunters are encouraged to purchase their other necessary licenses well in advance so their turkey tag arrives before the season opener on April 14.


2018-20 Fishing Regulations Set, New License Required

North Dakota’s 2018-20 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2020.


Fishing licenses for the 2018-19 season can be purchased online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or at license vendors that are linked to the department’s online licensing system. Anglers are reminded that new fishing licenses are required April 1.


Licenses may also be purchased by calling the department’s instant licensing telephone number at 800-406-6409. A service charge is added for this option.


The 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide is available at Game and Fish offices and license vendors throughout the state.


Noteworthy regulation changes include:

  • The season for taking of nongame fish with a bow will now be open year-round. 
  • The transportation of live white suckers, other than within Richland, Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Walsh and Pembina counties, is now illegal. 
  • The beginning of the darkhouse spearfishing season changes from December 1 to whenever ice-up occurs. When ice-up occurs in North Dakota is unpredictable. However, whenever it does occur, ice conditions continue to improve with no significant melting, thus safety concerns such as opening large holes in the ice are reduced. This is not true in the spring, when warm weather can create unsafe conditions … therefore the closing date of March 15 will remain in place.
  • Paddlefish snagging days will begin at 7 a.m. (was 8 a.m.) and close at 7 p.m. (was 9 p.m.). Also, the season length will be shortened to 21 days (May 1 – May 21). These changes are an effort to both extend the paddlefish season to more than a few days – most years the season lasts only 4-6 days, as an early in-season closure occurs due to the harvest reaching the cap of 1,000 paddlefish – and to improve safety conditions due to snagger congestion at the Confluence area. A daily closure at 7 p.m. will allow for a more orderly and safe situation for snaggers backed up at the cleaning station. Also, in the past 17 years, only twice was a full season reached. Effective this year, the overall season length is reduced to 21 days.
  • The statewide daily and possession limit for bluegill is reduced to 10/20 respectively (was 20/40). The number of quality bluegill fisheries in North Dakota is limited. Reducing the harvest somewhat, should help maintain the size of bluegill in some lakes. Bluegill populations are more in line with crappie where populations can be managed over a longer time, versus yellow perch populations which are tied closely to weather patterns and fluctuations in water levels.
  • Walleye length restrictions are eliminated on North and South Golden, Alkali (Sargent Co.), Lueck and West Moran lakes, and Tosse Slough. While minimum length restrictions for these species have been in place for a number of years, all biological data collected from angler use and population surveys indicates the restrictions have not yielded positive results. Therefore, these regulations are no longer necessary.

Shed Hunting

As March snow melts away, an off-season activity that many deer hunters pursue is looking for shed antlers.


Both whitetail and mule deer bucks, and moose and elk, lose their antlers during winter, typically in January and into February, though occasionally these big game animals are seen with antlers still intact in late March or even early April.


The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds shed hunters that while collection of naturally shed deer, elk and moose antlers is legal and no permit required, possession of antlers attached to the skull plate require a permit before possession is allowed. Permits may be issued by Game and Fish game wardens, and other law enforcement personnel on a case by case basis. Game warden phone numbers are all listed on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.


“Individual antlers that are naturally separated from the skull do not require a permit,” said chief of enforcement Robert Timian. “If the antlers are not naturally separated from the skull, a permit is required before you could remove them from the field.”


Timian also reminds shed hunters to avoid disturbing deer that are congregated. “Deer generally disperse from larger groups this time of year, but if large groups are hanging out in good winter habitat, it’s best to avoid those areas until later in the spring,” he said.



Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Applications Online

North Dakota’s elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications are available, and prospective hunters can apply online at the state 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 deadline for applying is March 28.

A total of 408 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 19 from last year and the most since 2011.

Coordination among state Game and Fish, private landowners and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will continue to highlight elk management in hunting Unit E6.

A record 334 moose licenses are available in 2018, an increase of 89 from last year and 203 more than in 2015. Most of the increase is antlerless licenses in units M10 and M11, due to an increasing moose population in these units.

Hunting units M1C and M4 will remain closed due to a continued downward trend in moose numbers in the northeastern part of the state.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2018, depending on the sheep population. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determinedSept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed. The season was closed in 2015 due to a bacterial pneumonia outbreak.

Bighorn sheep applicants must apply for a license at the same time as moose and elk, but not for a specific unit. 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.

Because the bighorn sheep application fee is not refundable as per state law, if a bighorn season is not held, applicants would not receive a refund.

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.


March 15 Deadline to Remove Permanent Fish Houses

Anglers have until midnight, March 15 to remove permanent fish houses from North Dakota waters, and from any state wildlife management area or federal refuge land.


Fish houses may be used after March 15 if they are removed daily.


Anglers are advised to use caution while accessing area lakes because mild weather conditions can quickly result in unstable ice conditions that can make removing a fish house with a vehicle difficult or dangerous.


Even on lakes where ice remains solid away from shore, anglers should watch the weather and adjust activities accordingly. Ice conditions can vary from region to region, between lakes in the same region, and even on the same lake.

have you read?

The 2018 February North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

Leading off the issue is an important feature on the licensing transition: Applying online for lottery licenses for North Dakota game species, such as deer and wild turkeys, is nothing new to many people. Yet, as Game and Fish Department officials embrace a long-range plan to phase out paper applications, there will likely be some questions. What follows are a number of questions and answers to help people with possible uncertainties about the process.


Ty Stockton writes a feature on Productive Prairie Lakes

Fishing in North Dakota has never been better. The state boasts 22 species of game fish and 449 bodies of water where anglers can wet a line.


Ron Wilson North Dakota Outdoors editor captures the birthday of the magazine with this month’s Backcast

In late summer 1931, the first issue of North Dakota OUTDOORS was published and made available to the public. If you do the math, that means the magazine turned 87 this year. Not a milestone, certainly. Just a point of interest.


Youth Grant Program Application Deadline

Wildlife, shooting, fraternal and nonprofit civic organizations are urged to submit an application for the Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters program, a North Dakota Game and Fish Department grant program developed to assist recruitment of the next generation of hunters and shooters.


The maximum grant allowed is $3,000. The program currently helps fund approximately 40 club and organizational events and projects each year, with an average grant of $1,550.


Grant funds help cover event expenses, including promotional printing; event memorabilia such as shirts, caps or vests; ammunition and targets, and eye and ear protection.


Past funding has enabled groups to conduct youth pheasant and waterfowl hunts, or sponsor trap and other shooting events, including archery and rifle shooting.


One change from previous years is that grants related to the high school clay target league will now come out of a separate fund, and these will be for newly formed teams in 2018 only. All other shooting events, including summer youth trapshooting leagues, are still eligible for Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters grants.


Any club or organization interested in conducting a youth hunting or shooting event can get more information, including a grant application, from the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or by contacting outreach biologist Pat Lothspeich at 701-328-6332.


The deadline to apply for a 2018 grant is April 10.