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

 

Hunters Asked to Submit Wing Envelopes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again asking grouse hunters for help with future bird management by simply collecting some feathers from harvested birds and sending in wing envelopes this fall.

partridge wing_adult female

Wing data allows biologists to monitor production, reconcile bird counts and get a better understanding of the harvest ratio of males to females, and juveniles to adults.

Instructions for submitting wing data are printed on the envelope.

Hunters interested in receiving wing envelopes should visit the Game and Fish website (gf.nd.gov) to order a supply of wing envelopes, or contact the department’s main office in Bismarck by phone (701-328-6300) or email (ndgf@nd.gov).

In addition, Game and Fish district offices have a supply of wing envelopes for distribution. District offices are located at Devils Lake, Jamestown, Riverdale, Dickinson, Williston and Lonetree Wildlife Management Area near Harvey.

Grouse and Partridge Seasons Open Sept. 9

North Dakota’s popular hunting seasons for grouse and partridge will open Saturday, Sept. 9.

State Game and Fish Department upland game biologist R.J. Gross says hunters will likely see fewer sharptails and Huns compared to last year, while ruffed grouse numbers are up from 2016.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

Gross said that hot, dry early summer weather likely reduced grouse production in many areas due to poor habitat conditions and low insect production.

“Numbers in the northeast show up a little better than other areas,” Gross said. “But yet, there will be localized areas with good chick survival in most parts of the state.”

Huns respond better to drought conditions, Gross said, and do better in dry years compared to sharptails. “Huns have generally been a bonus bird the past handful of years,” he added. “Hunters will still find pockets of decent hunting, but it may require more time in the field.”

Ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were up in the Turtle Mountains, and good numbers of broods were reported in the Pembina Hills.

Shooting hours for the upcoming season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2017-18 Small Game Hunting Guide

 

2016 grouse and partridge season opens Saturday!

North Dakota’s grouse and partridge hunting seasons open Sept. 10, and hunters can expect somewhat lower bird numbers compared to 2015.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

Aaron Robinson, upland game management supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department, said last year’s harvest results suggest a good population heading into the 2015 fall hunting season.

“Hunters were able to find birds last year, and we are hopeful that with a little hard work this trend will continue for the 2016 fall hunting season,” Robinson said.

Harvest results for the 2015 season show more than 23,000 sharp-tailed grouse hunters (up 10 percent from 2014) harvested 83,000 birds (up 15 percent), while more than 18,000 Hungarian partridge hunters (up 13 percent) bagged 59,000 Huns (up 60 percent).

Ruffed grouse are primarily found in the native aspen woodlands of Rolette, Bottineau, Pembina, Walsh, Cavalier and portions of McHenry counties. While the ruffed grouse population remains low, Robinson said the birds are in an upward cycle and with good production an improved population is expected.

Shooting hours for the upcoming season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2016-17 Small Game Hunting Guide.

Grouse and Partridge Seasons Open Sept. 10

North Dakota’s grouse and partridge hunting seasons open Sept. 10, and hunters can expect somewhat lower bird numbers compared to 2015.

photo by Ed Bry, ND Game and Fish

Aaron Robinson, upland game management supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department, said last year’s harvest results suggest a good population heading into the 2015 fall hunting season.

“Hunters were able to find birds last year, and we are hopeful that with a little hard work this trend will continue for the 2016 fall hunting season,” Robinson said.

Harvest results for the 2015 season show more than 23,000 sharp-tailed grouse hunters (up 10 percent from 2014) harvested 83,000 birds (up 15 percent), while more than 18,000 Hungarian partridge hunters (up 13 percent) bagged 59,000 Huns (up 60 percent).

Ruffed grouse are primarily found in the native aspen woodlands of Rolette, Bottineau, Pembina, Walsh, Cavalier and portions of McHenry counties. While the ruffed grouse population remains low, Robinson said the birds are in an upward cycle and with good production an improved population is expected.

Shooting hours for the upcoming season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2016-17 Small Game Hunting Guide.

Hunters Asked to Submit Wing Envelopes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again asking grouse hunters for help with future bird management by simply collecting some feathers from harvested birds and sending in wing envelopes this fall.

ruffed grouse tail

Wing data allows biologists to monitor production, reconcile bird counts and get a better understanding of the harvest ratio of males to females, and juveniles to adults.

Instructions for submitting wing data are printed on the envelope.

Hunters interested in receiving wing envelopes should visit the Game and Fish website (gf.nd.gov) to order a supply of wing envelopes, or contact the department’s main office in Bismarck by phone (701-328-6300) or email (ndgf@nd.gov).

In addition, Game and Fish district offices have a supply of wing envelopes for distribution. District offices are located at Devils Lake, Jamestown, Riverdale, Dickinson, Williston and Lonetree Wildlife Management Area near Harvey.

Spring Upland Game Index Numbers

North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is up slightly from last year, while sharp-tailed grouse numbers are down slightly, according to recent surveys conducted by State Game and Fish Department biologists.

Aaron Robinson, upland game management supervisor, said the number of pheasant roosters heard on the spring crowing count survey was up just about 2 percent statewide. Numbers in the southeast were down from last year, Robinson said, while “the other regions from west to central were up slightly, but not enough to say there’s a big increase from last year.”

Sharp-tailed grouse counts on spring dancing grounds or leks were down about 6 percent statewide from last year. “We were kind of expecting that,” Robinson added. “We had some dry weather last year and production wasn’t as good.”

While the spring counts provide a good indicator of the number of breeding birds in the two populations, Robinson says it’s primarily early summer weather that influences hunting success in the fall. “You have to have the right conditions to produce a good hatch,” he said. “You don’t want really wet, cold years, and you don’t want dry years. Dry years don’t produce those insects that chicks need to survive those first 10 days.”

Game and Fish biologists will start their summer upland game brood counts in mid-July, and Robinson said that will lead to more precise fall population predictions. “That’s when we really start to understand what our production was for the year.”

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

Biologists count male sharptails on their dancing grounds in 25 monitoring blocks throughout the state, and numbers within each block are compared from year to year.