Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Spring Pheasant Count Up from Last Year

North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is up 15% from the same time last year, according to the state Game and Fish Department’s 2020 spring crowing count survey.

R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist, said the number of roosters heard crowing this spring was up statewide, with increases ranging from 1% to 18% in the primary regions holding pheasants.

“We entered spring with a larger breeding population compared to last year,” Gross said. “Hens should be in good physical shape for nesting season and cover should be plentiful from the residual moisture left from last fall.”

However, Gross said there is concern with drought conditions in the western part of the state, and whether insects will be available to chicks for brood rearing.

“I am hopeful for above-average chick survival due to the lush cover and predicted warm temperatures, but we can use some rain,” Gross said. “But we don’t want any severe weather events.”

While the spring number is an indicator, Gross said it does not predict what the fall population will look like. Brood surveys, which begin in late July and are completed by September, provide a much better estimate of summer pheasant production and what hunters might expect for a fall pheasant population.

Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stop at predetermined intervals, and count the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a 2-minute period during the stop.

The number of pheasant crows heard is compared to the previous year’s data, providing a trend summary.

Deer Lottery Held, Licenses Remain

North Dakota’s deer gun lottery has been held and individual results are available online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Chief of administrative services Kim Kary said moving to an online lottery has resulted in reducing the time between the application deadline and the lottery run date.

“It’s a major benefit in moving to an all online lottery application process,” Kary said.

More than 6,200 deer gun licenses remain. Only resident applicants who were unsuccessful in the lottery can apply for remaining licenses.

More than 81,000 individuals applied for a deer gun lottery license, in addition to about 12,600 gratis applicants. The 2020 deer gun proclamation allows for 69,050 deer gun season licenses.

Unsuccessful applicants can apply online for remaining licenses beginning July 1. The deadline for applying is July 22.

Remaining Deer Gun Licenses

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

Unit Type Available
2H B 110
3A1 B 527
3B1 D 88
3B2 D 117
3B2 F 147
3B3 D 521
3C D 397
3D1 B 28
3D1 D 223
3D2 B 40
3D2 D 154
3E1 D 216
3E2 B 41
3E2 D 180
3F1 B 172
3F1 D 446
3F2 B 1018
3F2 C 96
3F2 D 786
4B D 130
4C D 86
4D D 95
4E D 113
4F D 359
4F F 185

Pronghorn Survey Begins

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual aerial pronghorn survey will begin July 1 and is scheduled to be completed within two weeks.

 

During the survey period, people could notice low-flying small airplanes over some parts of western North Dakota.

 

The survey determines pronghorn abundance, herd demographics and fawn production. This data is used to set the number of licenses for fall hunting season.

 

Last year, biologists surveyed 16,664 square miles, counting and classifying 9,201 pronghorn for a population estimate of 9,845 animals. Survey results indicated the fawn-to-doe ratio was 61 fawns per 100 does, which was equal to the long-term average. The buck-to-doe ratio of 38 bucks per 100 does was above the population objective.

WMA Regulations Prohibit Fireworks, Camping Restriction Lifted for Holiday

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds citizens that possession or use of fireworks on state wildlife management areas is prohibited.

 

The primary objective of a wildlife management area is to enhance wildlife production, provide hunting and fishing opportunities, and offer other outdoor recreational and educational uses that are compatible with these objectives. Only activities that would not disrupt the intentions of how these areas are managed are encouraged, and a fireworks display is not compatible.

 

In addition, the Game and Fish Department will lift the Tuesday-Wednesday no-camping restriction for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday week, which will allow overnight camping June 30 and July 1 on those WMAs that otherwise have this two-day restriction in place.

 

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

Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest

While contest guidelines for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest have change little from previous years, photographers are reminded to follow the guidelines for submitting their work.

Photographers who want to submit photos to the contest should go the Department’s website at gf.nd.gov/photo-contest. Then it is a matter of providing some pertinent information about the photo and uploading it.

Doing so helps both with ease of submitting photos for the photographer and managing those images for Department staff.

The contest is now open and the deadline for submitting photos is October 2. For more information or questions, contact Patrick Isakson, Department conservation biologist, at pisakson@nd.gov.

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.

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, and on the Department’s website.

Public Reminded of Administrative Rules Hearing

Those planning to attend the public hearing to address proposed rule changes to North Dakota Administrative Code Title 30 are asked to contact the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to 5 p.m., Tuesday, June 16.

 

The hearing is scheduled for 1:15 p.m., Thursday, June 18 at the agency’s main office in Bismarck. Attendees can call 701-328-6305, or email ndgf@nd.gov.

 

The purpose and explanation of the proposed rule changes, along with the proposed rule language, may be reviewed on the Department’s website at gf.nd.gov. Written or oral comments on the proposed rules must be received by June 28, 2020 for consideration.

 

Anyone planning to attend the public hearing and needs special facilities or assistance relating to a disability should contact the Game and Fish Department, at the above phone number, at least seven days before the public hearing.

Game and Fish to Open Offices by Appointment Only

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will open offices June 8 to public access by appointment only, and under guidelines established by North Dakota Smart Restart. Facility occupancy must remain below 50%, therefore most Game and Fish staff will continue to work remotely.

Under moderate risk phase I, COVID-19 wellness screening will be required upon entering the building, and wearing a mask or cloth face covering is encouraged. Physical distancing must be followed. Personal appointments will only be available for those who can’t receive help by phone or online.

Hunters, anglers and water recreationists are reminded that all hunting and fishing license purchases, boat registrations and lottery applications are conducted online. Anyone needing help with buying a license, a boat registration or lottery application can receive assistance by calling 701-328-6300, or emailing ndgf@nd.gov.

Spring Mule Deer Survey Complete

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population is up 7% from last year and 22% above the long-term average.

 

Biologists counted 2,364 mule deer in 267.3 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 8.8 deer per square mile.

 

Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said the population is above objective and remains at a level able to support more hunting opportunities in the northern badlands.

 

“Mule deer have recovered nicely across the badlands following the winters of a decade ago,” Stillings said. “But long-term challenges remain for further population growth, including predators and weather patterns, and changes in habitat.”

 

The spring mule deer survey is used to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. It is conducted after the snow has melted and before the trees begin to leaf out, providing the best conditions for aerial observation of deer. Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s.