Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

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.

Game and Fish Advisory Board to Livestream Spring Meeting Tonight

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department Advisory Board is inviting outdoor enthusiasts to attend tonight’s spring public meeting livestream event by visiting the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Hunters and anglers in the eastern half of the state, and those from the west who missed last night’s event, are welcome to attend.

Districts 3, 4, 5 and 6 is scheduled for tonight, April 28, beginning at 7 p.m. Central Time and conclude around 10 p.m.

The meeting will begin with department presentations, followed by questions and answers with select staff including director Terry Steinwand, deputy director Scott Peterson, fisheries chief Greg Power and wildlife chief Jeb Williams.

Questions can be submitted via live chat during the event, or can be submitted in advance or during the meeting at ndgflive@nd.gov.

Online Hunter Education Certification Available

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is offering an online hunter education course for students who will turn at least age 12 on or before Dec. 31, 2020.

Education supervisor Marty Egeland said with most in-person hunter education classes canceled this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, Game and Fish needed to find a way to get students certified for hunter education this year. “And with most classes held before the deer application deadline, we had to adjust the way we administer our classes,” Egeland said.

The online course is available to students who were already enrolled in classes that were canceled, and also to qualifying students who were not previously enrolled in a class. A 25% discount is being offered for taking the online course.

Students who were already enrolled in a 2020 class that was canceled do not have to register with Game and Fish again. They will automatically receive an email with instructions to start the online course.

Prospective students who had not previously registered, can sign up through the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. After signing up for the class, the student will receive an email with further relevant information and instructions. The online portion of the class must be completed within two weeks of signup.

For both pre-registered and new students, when the online hunter education course and an accompanying virtual field day are completed, a temporary hunter education number will be provided, which will allow lottery applications and license purchases in 2020.

Each student will then have until Dec. 31, 2020 to attend one in-person class session, to take the official North Dakota Game and Fish Department hunter education written and practical exams. If this is not completed by the end of the year, the temporary hunter education number will expire and the student will have to retake the course in the future.

Game and Fish will notify students when dates and locations are established for these final class sessions.

Another option for anyone who wants to hunt in North Dakota in 2020, is a one-time exemption called an apprentice license. Individuals who are at least age 12 by the end of the calendar year, and who have not previously had an apprentice license, can apply for one and use that to purchase 2020 licenses without a hunter education number. An apprentice license holder must then complete the official hunter education course before being able to purchase hunting licenses in future years.

Game and Fish Receives $12.8 Million for Conservation Programs

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has received $12.8 million in 2020 as its share of excise taxes paid by America’s recreational shooters, hunters, anglers and boaters. Altogether, 56 state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies shared more than $971 million.


The funding is used by Game and Fish to support conservation programs such as fish and wildlife monitoring, habitat improvement, research and education. The money also helps pay for hunter and aquatic education, and fish and wildlife-related recreation projects. Federal assistance funds pay for up to 75 percent of the cost of each project, while the state contributes at least 25 percent from nonfederal sources. Game and Fish is a special fund agency in North Dakota, as it receives no state general fund dollars.


The federal funds are apportioned by a formula under two assistance programs – Wildlife Restoration and Sport Fish Restoration. The total 2020 Wildlife Restoration apportionment for all state and territorial agencies is more than $601 million. Sport Fish Restoration support for 2020 totals nearly $370 million. The funds are allocated to the states by a formula based 50% on the amount of land area of the state relative to the rest of the states, and 50% based on the number of hunting license holders in a state relative to other states.


Wildlife Restoration is guided by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 and is funded by the collection of excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. States use Wildlife Restoration Program funds to manage wildlife populations and habitat; conduct research, surveys and inventories; administer hunter education programs; and construct or maintain firearm and archery ranges for public use.


Sport Fish Restoration is guided by the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 and is funded by the collection of excise taxes on sport fishing equipment and electric motors, import duties on fishing tackle and pleasure boats, and a portion of gasoline tax attributable to motorboats and small engines. States use Sport Fish Restoration Program funds to stock fish; acquire and improve sport fish habitat; provide aquatic resource education opportunities; conduct fisheries research; and build boat ramps, fishing piers and other facilities necessary to provide recreational boating access.

PLOTS Survey

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is initiating a study this week to get hunter and landowner opinions on the agency’s Private Land Open to Sportsmen program.

A company called Responsive Management is conducting the study on behalf of Game and Fish.

Licensed hunters, and landowners enrolled in the PLOTS program, may receive a phone call from Responsive Management asking for participation in a survey about hunting PLOTS, or having land enrolled in PLOTS in North Dakota. Selection for participation in the study is random, to maintain a scientifically valid study.

If you receive a call, Game and Fish encourages participation in the study. Answers are kept confidential and will never be associated with a name or license in any way.

If you have any questions about the study, contact Kevin Kading, Game and Fish private land section supervisor, at kkading@nd.gov.

Game and Fish Volunteers Recognized

Volunteer instructors for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department were recently recognized at the annual recognition event in Bismarck.

William Bahm, Almont, was recognized as hunter education instructor of the year and Kevin Lech, Mandan, was named archery education instructor of the year. Dickinson resident Walter Turbiville was honored with a lifetime achievement award.

Thirty-year service awards were presented to Dean Anderson, Grand Forks; Wayne Beyer, Wahpeton; Leonard Enander, Granville; Darwin Gebhardt, Lake Elmo, Minn.; Jerome Koenig, Steele; Jack Lalor, Lidgerwood; Charles Meikle, Spiritwood; David Nelson, Grand Forks; Gary Nilsson, Walhalla; David Urlacher, Belfield.

Recognized for 25 years of service were Curt Beattie, Hannaford; Jay Grover, Cooperstown; Vernon Laning, Bismarck; Eddy Larsen, Larimore; Rick Olson, Garrison; Joseph O’Meara, Hankinson; Brad Pierce, Hatton; Paul Roeder, Milnor; Robert Sanden, Barney; William Titus, Lincoln; Charles Veith, Bismarck; Larry Viall, Epping; Gary Wald, Maddock; Mark Weyrauch, Ray.

Honored for 20 years of service were Lynn Baltrusch, Fesseden; Darryl Duttenhefner, Menoken; Don Ferguson, Jamestown; Rhonda Ferguson, Jamestown; Sean Hagan, Walhalla; Donn Hancock, Emerado; Mitchell Kallias, Minot; Gary Knotts, Fargo; Lynn Lawler, Cando; Richard Liesener, Ray; Dale Marks, Ypsilanti; Marvin Neumiller, Washburn; Jerry Rekow, Ellendale; Thomas Rost, Devils Lake; Jerry Schroeder, Horace; Rickie Theurer, Mandan; Leonard Wysocki, Grafton.

Fifteen-year service awards were presented to Robert Bartz, Richardton; Mark Bitz, Bismarck; Steven Buchweitz, Munich; James Dusek, Grafton; Michael Erickson, Edgeley; Bradley Gregoire, Thompson; Karl Helland, Kathryn; Jonathan Hughes, Minot; Perry Johnson, Northwood; Jeff Kapaun, Valley City; Keith Kinneberg, Wahpeton; John Kron, Enderlin; Martin Marchello, Bismarck; Jean Oster, Ft. Ransom; Kent Reierson, Williston; David Sardelli, Hebron; Dallas Schmidt, Velva; Dan Spellerberg, Oakes; Joe Tuchscherer, Rugby; Gary Wilz, Killdeer.

Ten-year active instructors recognized were Travis Anderson, Grand Forks; Damon Bosche, Medina; Matthew Deal, Grace City; Curt Decker, Dickinson; Kendon Faul, McClusky; Cassie Felber, Towner; Kevin Fire, Grand Forks; Jon Hanson, Bismarck; Kevin Harris, Watford City; Tammy Haugen, Dickinson; Connie Jorgenson, Devils Lake; Petrina Krenzel, Harvey; Michael Kroh, Surrey; Richard Lehmann, Towner; Kellen Leier, Bismarck; Jerry Lillis, Lincoln; Phil Mastrangelo, Mandan; Roger Norton, Kindred; Mike Redmond, Ray; Brian Schock, Dickinson; Antoine Smith, New Town; Paul Speral, Fargo; Lavern Vance, Ray.

Recognized for five years of service were Darcy Aberle, Williston; Wayne Bauer, Wishek; Lori Deal, Grace City; Donald Dick, Enderlin; Jason Forster, Lidgerwood; Don Frost, West Fargo; Alex Gunsch, Grand Forks; David Hammond, Abercrombie; Joel Johnson, Mooreton; Jon Johnson, Jamestown; Shannon Johnson, Fargo; Henry Juntunen, Bismarck; Leah Kessler, Glen Ullin; Melissa Klitzke, Devils Lake; Edward Krank, Gladstone; Nathan Neameyer, Rolla; Melanie Nelson, Harvey; Bruce Nielsen, Valley City; Eric Odegaard, West Fargo; Erin Odell, Belfield; John Perritt, Fargo; Eric Poitra, Dunseith; Carl Quam Jr., Tolna; Jason Sauer, Glen Ullin; Kori Schantz, Underwood; Kent Schimke, Ellendale; Kristofer Schmidt, Washburn; Daniel Sem, Minot; Earl Torgerson, Bismarck; Than Young, Napoleon; Andrew Zickur, Glenburn.

Two-year active instructors recognized were John Arman, Bismarck; Austin Barnhart, Dickinson; Casey Bernard, Mandan; Charles Betts, Minot; Joel Bohm, Mohall; Lisa Buckhaus, Hankinson; Lynn Burgard, Bismarck; James Craigmile, Bismarck; Larry Derr, Glenburn; Michael Deville, Mandaree; Christopher Eng, Underwood; Seth Engelstad, Mooreton; Bernard Ficek, Dickinson; Patrick Gerving, Linton; Michael Goroski, Wahpeton; Paul Hamers, Napoleon; Kresta Hauge, Ray; Katrina Haugen, Minto; Isaac Hendrickson, Bisbee; Jesse Kalberer, Bismarck; Jeanette Kieper, Bismarck; Jayar Kindsvogel, Center; Trevor Larsen, Bowden; Orville Martinez, Halliday; Brian McKenna, Gwinner; Kali Metzger, Mandan; Chad Olson, Lisbon; Jordan Peterson, Minot; Steve Rehak, Williston; Monty Sailer, Hazen; Dan Schmidtke, Devils Lake; Robert Schock, Bismarck; Ethan Shulind, Grand Forks; Danielle Siverhus-Dinger, Oakes; Timothy Smith, Burlington; Michael Straus, West Fargo; Tim Straus, West Fargo; Renee Tomala, Bismarck; Gerald Wallace, Cushing, Wis., Susan Wallace, Cushing, Wis., Brian Ward, Hunter; Lori Wertz, Fargo.

Spring Turkey Season Set

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is offering 6,230 wild turkey licenses for the 2020 spring hunting season, 205 more than last year.

Seven of the 22 hunting units have more spring licenses than in 2019, five have fewer and nine remain the same. Unit 21 (Hettinger and Adams counties) is again closed in 2020 due to lack of turkeys in the unit.

Spring turkey applicants can apply online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Applications can also be submitted by calling 800-406-6409.

The deadline for applying is Feb. 12.

Successful spring turkey applicants must purchase a 2020-21 hunting license, as last year’s 2019-20 licenses expire March 31. In addition to the spring turkey license, hunters must have a general game and habitat license. Also, hunters ages 16 and older must possess a small game license, or combination license. These required licenses must be purchased in advance of the successful applicant receiving the turkey license.

First-time spring turkey hunters ages 15 or younger are eligible to receive one spring license valid for any open unit. To be eligible, the youth hunter must be 15 or younger on opening day of spring turkey season and have never received a spring turkey license in North Dakota.

Spring turkey licenses are available only to North Dakota residents. Per legislation, an additional four spring wild turkey licenses are available to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation and three to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The spring turkey season opens April 11 and continues through May 17.

Midwinter Waterfowl Survey

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated about 90,000 Canada geese in the state.

Andy Dinges, Department migratory game bird biologist, said North Dakota experienced relatively mild weather in fall and early winter, but a few harsh cold fronts in early November and mid-December pushed some birds south for winter.

“Particularly, the cold snap we experienced during the first and second weeks of November moved a lot of birds south of us earlier than normal and we struggled to build up great numbers after this,” Dinges said.

During the recent survey, an estimated 50,000 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 17,500 were observed on Lake Sakakawea, which still had substantial open water on the lower portion of the lake. In addition, about 22,500 Canada geese were observed on Nelson Lake in Oliver County.

Dinges said after summarizing the numbers, an additional 4,200 mallards were tallied statewide, most of which were recorded on Nelson Lake.

Lake Sakakawea officially iced-over Jan. 11, just days after the aerial survey was completed.

The 10-year average (2010-19) for the midwinter survey in North Dakota is 100,500 Canada geese and 22,000 mallards.

All states participate in the midwinter survey during the same time frame, to reduce the possibility of counting birds more than once.

Remove Gear from WMAs

Hunters are reminded that tree stands, blinds, steps and other personal items such as cameras, must be removed from all wildlife management areas by Jan. 31.

Items not removed by Jan. 31 are considered abandoned property and are subject to removal and confiscation by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.