Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

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 not available.

The deadline for applying is March 27.

A total of 478 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 70 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 479 moose licenses are available in 2019, an increase of 145 from last year. Most of the increase is antlerless licenses in units M9, 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.

As stated in the 2019-20 chronic wasting disease proclamation, hunters harvesting an elk in unit E6 or a moose in unit M10 cannot transport the whole carcass including the head and spinal column outside of the unit. More information on CWD is available by visiting the Game and Fish website.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2019, depending on the sheep population. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 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 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.

2018 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests

Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2018 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 92 percent for moose and 65 percent for elk.

 

The department issued two bighorn sheep licenses and auctioned one. All three hunters harvested a bighorn ram.

 

The department issued 329 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 319 hunters harvested 294 animals – 138 bulls and 156 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

 

Unit Hunters Bulls Cow/Calf Success Rate
M5 5 3 1 80
M6 14 9 3 86
M8 14 13 0 93
M9 93 34 49 89
M10

M11

107

86

50

29

52

51

95

93

 

The department issued 418 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 380 hunters harvested 248 elk – 135 bulls and 113 cows/calves. Harvest for each unit follows:

 

Unit Hunters Bulls Cow/Calf Success Rate
E1E

E1W

57

37

17

10

16

17

58

73

E2 128 35 35 55
E3 125 52 40 74
E4

E6

22

11

17

4

0

5

77

82

Hunters Reminded of Big Game Transport Rules

Hunters harvesting a big game animal in deer gun unit 3F2 are reminded they cannot transport the whole carcass, including the head and spinal column, outside of the unit.

In addition, hunters are prohibited from transporting into or within North Dakota the whole carcass of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family from states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD in wild populations, or in captive cervids. As a reminder, Montana is now included in the 2018-19 CWD proclamation as a state that has had free-ranging deer, moose or elk diagnosed with CWD and therefore now has big game transport restriction.

Only the following portions of the carcass can be transported:

  • Meat that has been boned out.
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Hides with no heads attached.
  • Meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.
  • Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
  • Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.
  • Finished taxidermy heads.

Hunters should also note that hunting big game over bait, or placing bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, is prohibited in deer units 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.

CWD Surveillance Continues

 

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will continue its Hunter-Harvested Surveillance program during the 2018 hunting season, by sampling deer for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis from 17 units in the western portion of the state. In addition, all moose and elk harvested in the state are eligible for testing.

 

Samples from hunter-harvested deer will be tested from units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3, 3B1, 3B2, 3D1, 3D2, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F.

 

Every head sampled must have either the deer tag attached, or a new tag can be filled out with the license number, deer hunting unit and date harvested.

 

Hunters are encouraged to drop off deer heads at the following locations:

  • Beach – Interstate Cenex
  • Belfield – Superpumper
  • Bismarck – Game and Fish Department headquarters, West Dakota Meats, 3Be Meats
  • Bowman – Frontier Travel Center
  • Carson – Hertz Hardware
  • Crosby – Crosby Water Plant, Jason’s Super Foods
  • Devils Lake – Game and Fish district office
  • Dickinson – Game and Fish district office
  • Dunn Center – Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge
  • Elgin – Gunny’s Bait and Tackle, Melvin’s Taxidermy
  • Glen Ullin – Kuntz’s Butcher Shop
  • Grenora – Farmer’s Union
  • Harvey – Lonetree Game and Fish district office
  • Hazen – Hazen Meats
  • Hettinger – Dakota Packing
  • Jamestown – Game and Fish district office
  • Kenmare – Des Lacs NWR, Lostwood NWR
  • Killdeer – Grab N Go, Hettich Salvage
  • Mandan – Butcher Block Meats
  • Minot – Johnson’s Taxidermy
  • Mohall – Engebretson Processing, Farmer’s Union
  • New Leipzig – Hertz Hardware
  • Parshall – Myers Custom Meats
  • Portal – Gastrak
  • Ray – Horizon Cenex
  • Riverdale – Game and Fish district office
  • Roseglen – Giffey Taxidermy
  • Scranton – Wolf’s Processing
  • Selfridge – Cenex
  • Stanley – Ace Hardware
  • Washburn – Enerbase
  • Williston – Williston Game and Fish district office, Mertin Kirschbaum, Scenic Sports, Bickler Taxidermy, Zerr’s Taxidermy
  • Wilton – Cenex.

Moose and elk heads should be taken to a Game and Fish office.

 

CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal.

 

Agencies Prohibit Hunting over Bait

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 unit 3C west of the Missouri River, and all of units 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.

 

In addition, placing of bait for any purpose is prohibited on all North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas.

 

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. Bait, in this case, include grains, minerals, salts, fruits, vegetables, hay, or any other natural or manufactured food.

 

The designation does not apply to the use of scents and lures, water, food plots, standing crops or livestock feeds used in standard practices.

 

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, and all North Dakota state school, state park and state forest service lands.

Hunters Reminded of Big Game Transport Rules

Big game hunters are reminded of requirements for transporting deer, elk and moose carcasses and carcass parts into and within North Dakota as a precaution against the possible spread of chronic wasting disease.

 

Hunters are prohibited from transporting into or within North Dakota the whole carcass of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family from areas within states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD in wild populations, or in captive cervids. Hunters should note that Montana is now included in the 2018-19 CWD proclamation as a state that has had free-ranging deer, moose or elk diagnosed with CWD and therefore now has big game transport requirements.

 

In addition, hunters harvesting a big game animal in unit 3F2 in North Dakota cannot transport the whole carcass, including the head and spinal column, outside of the unit. This is a new rule from last year, when hunters could take the carcass  outside of the unit if it was taken directly to a meat processor within five days of the harvest date.

 

Only the following portions of the carcass can be transported:

  • Meat that has been boned out.
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Hides with no heads attached.
  • Meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.
  • Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
  • Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.
  • Finished taxidermy heads.

 

Hunters should also note that hunting big game over bait, or placing bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, is prohibited in deer units 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.

 

Fall Mule Deer Survey Completed

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s fall mule deer survey indicated fawn production in 2017 was lower than in 2016.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND    Game and Fish

Biologists counted 2,548 (3,003 in 2016) mule deer in the aerial survey in October. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.32 (0.48 in 2016) was lower than the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.76 (0.90 in 2016) was down from the long-term average of 0.91 fawns per doe.

Big game biologist Bruce Stillings said survey conditions were much warmer than normal, with nearly 50 percent leaf cover, which he said could explain the lower buck-to-doe ratio.

“And this year’s lower fawn production was expected based on the previous winter conditions, but it was still at a level able to support stable-to-increasing deer numbers, depending on the severity of the upcoming winter,” Stillings said.

The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306.3 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists also survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine deer abundance.

Find Your Deer License

Now is the time to locate your deer license and check it for accuracy.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Every year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s licensing section receives last-minute inquiries from hunters who can’t find their license. When that happens, it’s difficult to try to get a replacement license in time for the season opener.

Another reason to check the license now is to make sure the unit and species is what was intended.

Deer hunters in need of a replacement license can print out a duplicate (replacement) license application from the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, or can request an application by calling 701-328-6300.

The form must be completely filled out and notarized, and sent back in to the department with a fee.