Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Tentative 2018 Season Opening Dates

Tentative 2018 Season Opening Dates

To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2018, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year.

Dates become official when approved by governor’s proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2018 include:

Spring Turkey April 14
Deer and Pronghorn Bow, Mountain Lion August 31
Dove September 1
Sharptail, Hun, Ruffed Grouse, Squirrel September 8
Youth Deer September 14
Youth Waterfowl September 15
Early Resident Waterfowl September 22
Regular Waterfowl, Youth Pheasant September 29
Pronghorn Gun October 5
Pheasant October 6
Fall Turkey October 13
Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping October 27
Deer Gun November 9
Deer Muzzleloader November 30

 

Moose and Elk Lotteries Held, Bighorn Sheep in September

North Dakota’s moose and elk lottery results are available online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Applicants can find individual results by clicking “my account” under the buy and apply link.

Successful applicants will receive a letter the week of May 15, stating the license will be mailed after the successful applicant submits the correct license fee.

The bighorn sheep lottery is scheduled in September, after summer population surveys are completed and total licenses are determined. Once the lottery is held, successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.

Bighorn Sheep Population Stable

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s spring bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 296 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, up slightly from last year and 3 percent above the five-year average.

Altogether, biologists counted 104 rams, 170 ewes and 22 lambs. Not included are approximately 20 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.photo by Craig Bihrle, ND    Game and Fish

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the survey revealed both good and bad news after a sheep die-off that began in 2014.

“This year’s count of adult bighorn was encouraging given the ongoing effects of bacterial pneumonia throughout most of the badlands, but the lamb count was discouraging,” Wiedmann said.

The northern badlands population, which was hit the hardest from the die-off, increased 2 percent from last year. However, the southern badlands population was down 3 percent.

“The total count of adult rams and ewes was the highest on record, but the total count, recruitment rate and winter survival rate for lambs were all the lowest on record,” Wiedmann said. “The recruitment rate of lambs per adult ewes was 15 percent, well below the long-term average.”

Wiedmann noted that one year isn’t necessarily a trend, but poor lamb survival is typical in populations exposed to Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, the pathogen responsible for most die-offs of bighorn sheep, and those effects can last many years.

Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.

“Adult mortality was low in 2016, and we had a good number of lambs survive in 2014 and 2015 to compensate for most of the adult losses in 2014,” Wiedmann said. “However, many bighorns are still showing signs of pneumonia and lamb recruitment was poor in 2016, so next year’s survey will be important in determining if the state’s population continues to recover from the disease outbreak, or if the pathogens are likely to persist and cause a long-term population decline.”

Dr. Dan Grove, Department veterinarian, said that 19 adult bighorn were tested for deadly pathogens last winter, but results are still pending. He said animals continue to succumb to pneumonia, albeit at a much slower rate.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2017, unless there is a recurrence of significant adult mortality from bacterial pneumonia. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after the summer population survey is completed.

Game and Fish issued eight licenses in 2016 and all hunters were successful harvesting a ram.

Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Apps Due March 22

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications must be submitted online, or postmarked, before midnight March 22.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND    Game and Fish

To apply online, visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website,gf.nd.gov. Paper applications are also available at vendors.

Individuals mailing applications to the department are advised to mail early because some post offices use the following day’s postmark for mail received after regular hours. The department’s online application feature will be deactivated March 22 at midnight.

Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

Have You Seen? Bighorn Sheep Update

 

 

Have you seen this week’s North Dakota Outdoors video?

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Bighorn Sheep Update

This week North Dakota Game and Fish big game biologist Brett Wiedmann gives an update on the 2016 bighorn sheep hunting season.

You can watch the video right here: or http://gf.nd.gov/publications/television/outdoors-online-webcast

 

Find out more on bighorn sheep and hunting at the Game and Fish Department website hunting tab right here or here: https://gf.nd.gov/hunting

 

More video’s are available right here or http://gf.nd.gov/video

North Dakota Bighorn Sheep Up 18%

The State Game and Fish Department is allocating eight bighorn sheep licenses for the 2016 hunting season, based on data collected from a recently completed summer population survey.

Two licenses are available in Unit B1, two in B3 and three in B4. In addition, one license as authorized under North Dakota Century Code was auctioned in March by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, from which all proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Game and Fish Department wildlife chief Jeb Williams said the bighorn population hasn’t had any recent setbacks this summer from bacterial pneumonia, which prompted Game and Fish to close the hunting season in 2015.

“There are currently good numbers of mature rams on the landscape, and we are going to take advantage of providing as much hunter opportunity as possible with the situation that we have,” Williams said. “We feel good that we are able to provide this opportunity as impacts from the die-off have lessened substantially since 2014, but it is also very unpredictable.”

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said license numbers are determined by assessing the age structure and total number of rams in the population. The July-August survey showed a minimum of 103 rams in the badlands, an increase of 18 percent from 2015.

“Overall, we are very encouraged by the results of the summer survey,” Wiedmann said. “In fact, the ram count was the highest on record.”

Wiedmann said the annual survey results for ewes and lambs would not be completed until next spring. Biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.

Game and Fish announced in February that the status of the bighorn sheep hunting season would be determined after completion of the summer population survey. Now that the survey is complete and total licenses are determined for each unit, the bighorn lottery will run and successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit by Sept. 6.

Prospective hunters were required to apply for a bighorn license earlier this year on the bighorn sheep, moose and elk application. A total of 10,380 people applied for a bighorn sheep license.

North Dakota Bighorn Sheep Population Up 8%

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 292 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, up 8 percent from last year and 3 percent above the five-year average.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND    Game and Fish

Altogether, biologists counted 88 rams, 160 ewes and 44 lambs. Not included are approximately 30 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the survey is good news after an all-age die-off that began in 2014.

“This year’s number was encouraging given the ongoing effects of bacterial pneumonia throughout most of the badlands,” Wiedmann said.

The northern badlands population, which was hit the hardest from the die-off, increased 13 percent from last year. However, the southern badlands population was down 19 percent.

“Overall, rams, ewes and lambs all increased from last year,” Wiedmann said. “We were also pleased to see that 76 percent of lambs counted during last summer’s survey survived the winter, which is above average. The recruitment rate of lambs per adult ewes was 31 percent, equal to the long-term average.”

Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.

“Adult mortality slowed significantly in 2015, and we had a good number of lambs survive in 2014 and 2015 to compensate for most of the adult losses,” Wiedmann said. “The bad news is that many bighorns are still showing signs of pneumonia, so next year’s survey will be important in determining if the state’s population is continuing to recover from the disease outbreak, or if the pathogens are likely to persist and cause a long-term population decline.”

Dr. Dan Grove, Department veterinarian, said disease testing last winter revealed that deadly pathogens were still present in 16 of 22 bighorns tested. He said animals continue to succumb to pneumonia, albeit at a much slower rate.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2016, unless there is a recurrence of bacterial pneumonia. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are complete

Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Apps Available

North Dakota’s elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications are available online at the State Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications are scheduled to arrive at license vendors the week of March 7. The deadline for applying is March 23.

A total of 338 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 37 from last year. Unit E2 has an additional 10 any-elk licenses, and unit E3 has an increase of 10 any-elk and 15 antlerless elk licenses. In addition, one elk license is allocated to Annie’s House at Bottineau Winter Park and one to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation. Sioux County, previously part of Unit E5, is closed to elk hunting in 2016.

A total of 202 moose licenses are available in 2016, an increase of 70 from last year. Most of the increase is antlerless licenses in Units M9 and M10, due to an increasing moose population in these units. In addition, one moose license is authorized to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation.

Unit M6 is expanded to address landowner depredation issues. 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 2016, unless there is a recurrence of bacterial pneumonia, which closed the season in 2015. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Applicants will still 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.