Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Early Ice Awareness for Hunters, Anglers

Hunters and anglers are reminded to be cognizant of early ice conditions before traveling onto and across North Dakota waters.

Game and Fish Department education coordinator Brian Schaffer said there haven’t been enough days when the high temperature has remained below freezing to produce stable ice. “There are already small and mid-sized waters that show the appearance of safe ice, but looks can be deceiving,” Schaffer said.

And with deer season opening Friday, Nov. 8 at noon, an estimated 60,000 hunters will be in the field the next two weeks. Schaffer said even though deer might be able to make it across smaller waters, it doesn’t mean hunters can.

“Hunters walking the edges will not find the same ice thickness in the middle, as the edges firm up faster than farther out from shore,” Schaffer added, while urging hunters to be cautious of walking on frozen stock ponds, sloughs, creeks and rivers.

A few reminders include:

  • Snow insulates ice, which in turn inhibits solid ice formation, and hides cracks, weak and open water areas.
  • Ice can form overnight, causing unstable conditions. Ice thickness is not consistent, as it can vary significantly within a few inches.
  • Avoid cracks, pressure ridges, slushy or darker areas that signal thinner ice. The same goes for ice that forms around partially submerged trees, brush, embankments or other structures.
  • Anglers should drill test holes as they make their way out on the lake, and an ice chisel should be used to check ice thickness while moving around.
  • Daily temperature changes cause ice to expand and contract, affecting its strength.
  • The following minimums are recommended for travel on clear-blue lake ice formed under ideal conditions. However, early in the winter it’s a good idea to double these figures to be safe: 4 inches for a group walking single file; 6 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle; 8-12 inches for an automobile; and 12-15 inches for a pickup/truck.

While heading onto North Dakota lakes this winter, Schaffer offers these life-saving safety tips:

  • Wear a personal flotation device and carry a cell phone.
  • Carry ice picks or a set of screwdrivers to pull yourself back on the ice if you fall through.
  • If someone breaks through the ice, call 911 immediately. Rescue attempts should employ a long pole, board, rope, blanket or snowmobile suit. If that’s not possible, throw the victim a life jacket, empty water jug or other buoyant object. Go to the victim as a last resort, but do this by forming a human chain where rescuers lie on the ice with each person holding the feet of the person in front.
  • To treat hypothermia, replace wet clothing with dry clothing and immediately transport victim to a hospital.

Water Recreationists, Property Owners Asked to Help Search for ANS

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking water recreationists and property owners to check for zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species when removing boat lifts, docks and other equipment from area lakes.

ANS coordinator Jessica Howell said zebra mussels attach to hard surfaces that are left in the water for long periods of time, first settling in tight spaces and areas that are protected from sunlight. She said this can make searching for them in the lake difficult when there are few mussels present.

“It makes it easier to do a thorough search on equipment when it’s taken out of the water in the fall,” Howell said. “Pay special attention to wheel wells, right angles on frames, and areas that are otherwise protected from sunlight. Feel for attached organisms that have small hair-like structures holding them in place. Small mussels can feel like rough sandpaper, and adults can be as large as two inches long.”

Howell said if you think you’ve found a zebra mussel, take pictures, write down any relevant information such as how many were found and where, and report it online at the Game and Fish website gf.nd.gov/ans, or email Howell at jmhowell@nd.gov.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas and were introduced to the United States in the mid-1980s. Since then, they have caused massive damage to infrastructure, increased costs to electric and water users, and altered the ecosystems into which they were introduced. They were first discovered in North Dakota in the Red River in 2015 as a result of downstream drift from infested Minnesota lakes. Most recently, zebra mussels were discovered earlier this year in Lake Ashtabula.

“Help stop the spread by reporting anything that seems out of place, and remember to clean, drain and dry equipment before moving between waters,” Howell said.

This weeks Game and Fish news

  • First-Come, First-Served Deer Gun Licenses Available Aug. 8
  • Pronghorn Applications due Aug. 7
  • Hunters Reminded of Baiting Restrictions
  • Equipment on Wildlife Management Areas
  • Game Warden Exam Set for Sept. 6

First-Come, First-Served Deer Gun Licenses Available Aug. 8

More than 3,000 antlerless deer gun licenses are still available in 12 units after the North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently completed its second lottery drawing.

Antlerless licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m. Central Time on Aug. 8. Residents and nonresidents who have not already received a lottery or landowner license are eligible to apply, by visiting the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

These licenses are valid only during the regular deer gun season, Nov. 8-24.

Remaining deer gun licenses

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

Unit     Type     Available
3A1       B     48
3B2      D     50
3B2      F    152
3B3      D     11
3C      D     92
3D1      B     28
3D1      D    184
3D2      D     41
3E1      D     45
3E2      D     82
3F1      B    106
3F1      D    442
3F2      B    739
3F2      D    740
4E      D     87
4F      D    341
4F      F    126

 


Pronghorn Applications due Aug. 7

Hunters are reminded the deadline to apply for the 2019 pronghorn hunting season is Aug. 7.

Applicants can apply online by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or by calling 800-406-6409.

A total of 1,330 licenses are available in 12 open units – 1A, 1D, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4C, 5A, 6A, 7A and 10A. All licenses are valid for any pronghorn, except in 4A where doe/fawn licenses are also available.

The bow-only portion of the season is from Aug. 30 (noon) – Sept. 22. Anyone who draws a license can hunt pronghorn with a bow in the unit printed on the license.

From Oct. 4 (noon) – Oct. 20, 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 2019 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 2019 have the option to purchase a bonus point on the application.

Successful applicants should note that Game and Fish will not mail pronghorn licenses until a valid 2019-20 hunting license is purchased. All pronghorn hunters, regardless of age, are required to have a general game and habitat license in addition to their pronghorn license. Hunters who have already purchased this 2019-20 license do not have to purchase another one.


Hunters Reminded of Baiting Restrictions

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 units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of N.D. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.

The restriction is in place to help slow the spread of chronic wasting disease, a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked. Hunting units in the northwest have been added to the restriction zone, following the detection of CWD in those areas this past year.

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. Baits include but are not limited to grains, minerals, salts, fruits, vegetables, hay, or any other natural or manufactured foods.

In addition, placing of bait for any purpose is prohibited on all North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas. 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, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands, and all North Dakota state school, state park and state forest service lands.

More information on CWD can be found at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.


Equipment on Wildlife Management Areas

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters that tree stands, ground blinds and game cameras cannot be placed on state wildlife management areas prior to Aug. 20.

Equipment set out prior to Aug. 20, or left on a WMA after Jan. 31, is considered abandoned property and is subject to removal.

In addition, an equipment registration number, or the owner’s name, address and telephone number, must be displayed on all equipment requiring identification.

Owners can generate an equipment registration number by visiting My Account at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. One registration number will be issued for all equipment that requires identification.


Game Warden Exam Set for Sept. 6

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test is at 10 a.m., Sept. 6, at the department’s main office in Bismarck.

Applicants must register to take the exam no later than Sept. 2 by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree at time of hire, have a valid driver’s license and a current North Dakota peace officer license, or be eligible to be licensed. Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills in communications and writing, and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

District game wardens enforce game and fish laws and related regulations in an assigned district and other locations as determined by the department. Wardens normally work alone under varied conditions, at all hours of the day, night and weekends. In addition to law enforcement duties, wardens assist in the areas of public relations, education programs, and hunter and boat safety education.

Salary through training for a district game warden is $3,900 per month. For more information, see the district game warden job announcement on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

Bighead Carp Caught in James River

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently collected and verified bighead carp in the James River near LaMoure during silver carp monitoring efforts. Bighead carp, an exotic species, are established in the lower Missouri River and in the James River in South Dakota. This is the first report of this aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota waters.

Jessica Howell, Game and Fish aquatic nuisance species coordinator, said department personnel are disappointed but not surprised that bighead carp have entered the state.

“High water levels in the James River this year have facilitated their movements upstream, providing an opportunity for them to enter the state from the South Dakota portions,” Howell said.

Game and Fish staff will continue to sample the James River on a regular basis to monitor the silver and bighead carp populations as well as to detect any new potential species that migrate during high flows.

“Once established in a large river system they are virtually impossible to eliminate,” Howell said.

Like the closely related silver carp that showed up in 2011, bighead carp can out-compete native and other game fish in large river systems. They eat phytoplankton, a food item used by zooplankton, which in turn are eaten by small game fish. They concentrate below dams and in confluence areas and can drive out desirable fish.

Traveling Boaters Take Note of ANS Regulations

North Dakota boaters who are traveling to or through other states or Canadian provinces, are reminded to check the aquatic nuisance species regulations of their destination, to make sure they are in compliance.

 

Mandatory boat inspections may be required along highways or at lakes based on destination or route taken. In general, to ensure compliance, boaters are encouraged to clean, drain and dry equipment.

  • Clean: remove plants, animals and excessive mud from trailers, hulls, motors and other equipment such as fishing rods.
  • Drain: drain all water, including bilges, livewells and bait buckets.
  • Dry: allow all equipment to dry completely, as an inspection might be failed in a neighboring state if any standing water is present. If necessary, use sponges or towels to remove excess water and leave compartments open to dry.

More information on bordering state and provincial ANS regulations is available at the following web addresses.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Exam Scheduled

The next guide and outfitter written examination is Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a hunting guide or outfitter in the state.

 

In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.

 

Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, as well as an individual must have held a hunting guide license for two years; and must have proof of liability insurance.

 

Interested individuals are required to preregister by calling the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement office at 328-6604.

Anglers May Not Bring Aquatic Bait into North Dakota

Anglers are reminded that it is illegal to import minnows and other forms of live aquatic bait into North Dakota.

 

Anglers should buy bait from a licensed North Dakota retail bait vendor. Bait vendors can properly identify species and have taken steps to ensure all bait is clean of any aquatic nuisance species.

 

For more information, refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide, available at license vendors or online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

Fishing for Free June 1-2

North Dakotans who want to give fishing a try are reminded they can fish for free June 1-2.

 

That is the state’s Free Fishing Weekend, when all residents age 16 and over can fish any North Dakota water without a license. Residents age 15 and under do not need a fishing license at any time of year.

 

Fishing regulations and information on fishing waters is available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, and in the current regulations guide available at license vendor locations.

 

This weekend (June 1-2) is North Dakota’s Free Fishing Weekend. During those two days, all North Dakota residents can fish any state water without a license. Anglers, share your love of fishing by taking a neighbor, a friend, or handful of kids to a nearby water. Introduce them to a slice of North Dakota’s wonderful natural resources that may be common to you, but often overlooked by them.

Be Courteous at Boat Ramps

North Dakota boaters are reminded to exercise patience and plan accordingly when heading to a lake or river this summer.

 

The state Game and Fish Department receives a number of complaints every year about overly aggressive behavior at boat ramps. A few simple reminders will help ensure a fluent transition when launching and loading a boat.

 

Launching

  • Don’t pull onto the ramp until your boat is ready to launch.
  • Prepare for launching in the parking area. Remove covers, load equipment, remove tie downs, attach lines and put in drain plug, before backing onto the ramp.
  • When ready, pull into line to launch. Wait your turn. Be courteous.
  • It takes at least two people to efficiently and courteously launch a boat: one to handle the boat and one to take care of the tow vehicle.

 

Loading

  • Don’t block the loading area with your boat until your tow vehicle is ready to load. Wait until you are clear of the launch area to unload gear.
  • As soon as your trailer is in the water, load and secure your boat to the trailer.
  • Remove boat and trailer from the water as quickly as possible.
  • Get clear of the ramp. Pull into the parking area to finish securing your boat, unloading gear, draining all water and inspecting for and removing any vegetation. Remember to leave plugs out when transporting boat.