Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Hunters Asked to Submit Wing Envelopes

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again asking upland game hunters to help biologists monitor hatching dates and reproductive rates by submitting wings and appropriate feathers/legs in wing envelopes this fall.

Harvested birds provide a good random sample that biologists use to assess the ratio of juveniles to adults, and estimate the average ages of harvested juveniles.

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), 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.

Pheasant, Sharptail and Partridge Numbers Up

North Dakota’s roadside surveys conducted in late July and August indicate total pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse and gray partridge numbers are up from last year.

State Game and Fish Department upland game biologist RJ Gross said the survey shows total pheasants observed per 100 miles are up 10% from last year. In addition, broods per 100 miles are up 17%, while the average brood size is down 5%. The final summary is based on 275 survey runs made along 101 brood routes across North Dakota.

“This was the first year in a while that we’ve had good residual cover to start the year, and good weather for nesting and brood-rearing,” Gross said. “In the southwest portion of the state, which is our primary pheasant district and most popular hunting area, local populations are slowly improving.”

Gross said hunters should not overlook pheasant opportunities in northwest and southeast North Dakota. “Two good years of chick production should translate to more birds for hunters to pursue,” he said.

Statistics from the northwest indicate pheasants are up 49% from last year, with broods up 75%. Observers recorded five broods and 39 pheasants per 100 miles. Average brood size was six.

Results from the southeast show birds are up 32% from last year, and the number of broods up 27%. Observers counted six broods and 51 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was six.

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate total pheasants were down 7% and broods observed up 2% from 2018. For every 100 survey miles, observers counted an average of six broods and 41 pheasants. The average brood size was five chicks.

The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat with lower pheasant numbers compared to the rest of the state, showed two broods and 15 pheasants per 100 miles. Average brood size was four.

Sharptails observed per 100 miles are up 113% statewide from 2018, and partridge are up 58%.

Upland game management supervisor Jesse Kolar said sharptail numbers are still roughly 50% below 2012-15. “However, we observed slight increases in all metrics this year during our surveys, especially in counties east of the Missouri River where we observed the highest numbers of grouse per 100 miles since 2013,” he said.

Brood survey results show statewide increases in number of grouse and broods observed per 100 miles, and in average brood size. Observers recorded 1.7 sharptail broods and 13.6 sharptails per 100 miles. Average brood size was five.

Although partridge numbers have shown a slight increase, Gross said the majority of the partridge harvest is incidental while hunters pursue grouse or pheasants. Partridge densities in general, he said, are too low to target. Observers recorded 0.5 partridge broods and 6.8 partridge per 100 miles. Average brood size was 10.

The 2019 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 12 and continues through Jan. 5, 2020. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 5-6.

The 2019 grouse and partridge seasons open Sept. 14 and continue through Jan. 5, 2020.

Grouse and Partridge Seasons Open Sept. 14

North Dakota’s popular hunting seasons for grouse and partridge will open Saturday, Sept. 14.

 

Shooting hours 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.

 

All hunters, regardless of age, must have a general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

 

Hunters are urged to keep up with the daily rural fire danger index, issued by the National Weather Service, to alert the public to conditions that may be conducive to accidental starting or spread of fires. County governments also have the authority to adopt penalties for violations of county restrictions related to burning bans. These restrictions apply regardless of the daily fire danger index, and remain in place until each county’s commission rescinds the ban. Information on current fire danger indexes is available through ndresponse.gov, or from a county sheriff’s office.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2019-20 Hunting and Trapping Guide.

Small Game, Waterfowl and Furbearer Regulations Set

North Dakota’s 2019 small game, waterfowl and furbearer regulations are set and most season structures are similar to last year.

Noteworthy items include:

  • Opening day for ducks, geese, coots and mergansers for North Dakota residents is Sept. 21. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Sept. 28.
  • The daily limit on pintails is reduced from two to one.
  • River otter season limit is increased from 15 to 20.
  • The fisher trapping season is expanded almost statewide, except for Bottineau and Rolette counties, which remain closed.
  • The tree squirrel season is extended to Feb. 28.
  • Veterans and members of the Armed Forces (including National Guard and Reserves) on active duty, who possess a resident hunting license, may hunt waterfowl Sept. 14-15.
  • The prairie chicken and sage grouse seasons will remain closed due to low populations.
  • In accordance with state law, nonresidents are not allowed to hunt on Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or Private Land Open To Sportsmen areas from Oct. 12-18.

Hunters and trappers can find the North Dakota 2019-20 Hunting and Trapping Guide – which includes upland game, migratory game bird and furbearer/trapping regulations and other information – by visiting the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Printed guides will be available at vendor locations in mid-August.

For a complete listing of opening and closing dates, and daily and possession limits, refer to the table on pages 4-5 of the guide.

2018 Upland Game Seasons Summarized

North Dakota’s 2018 pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse harvests were similar to 2017, while the number of Hungarian partridge taken last year was down from the year before, according to statistics compiled by the state Game and Fish Department.

 

Upland game management supervisor Jesse Kolar said the decline in partridge during the summer 2018 brood survey was not as drastic, so he suspects the lower partridge harvest was related to fewer pheasant hunters and fewer trips per hunter.

 

“Partridge are most commonly harvested incidentally, while hunters are pursuing pheasant or grouse, so the rate of harvest does not always mirror numbers on the ground,” Kolar said.

 

More than 58,200 pheasant hunters harvested 327,000 roosters (up 6 percent) in 2018, compared to 58,300 hunters and 309,400 roosters in 2017.

 

Counties with the highest percentage of pheasants taken by resident hunters last year were Williams, 6.7; McLean, 6.5; Richland, 6; Morton, 5.6; and Divide, 5.2.

 

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Hettinger, 13.6 percent; Bowman, 10.4; Divide, 7.6; Dickey, 5.9; and Emmons, 4.8.

 

In 2018, nearly 13,100 grouse hunters (down 4 percent) harvested 45,600 sharp-tailed grouse (down 3 percent). In 2017, 13,600 hunters took 46,900 sharptails.

 

Counties with the highest percentage of sharptails taken by resident hunters in 2018 were Slope, 6.5; Walsh, 5.5; Mountrail, 5.4; Kidder, 5.3; and Benson, 4.6.

 

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Bowman, 11.3; Hettinger, 7.4; Divide, 7; Mountrail, 6.8; and Ward, 6.4.

 

Last year, 11,200 hunters (down 19 percent) harvested 23,000 Hungarian partridge (down 30 percent). In 2017, nearly 13,800 hunters harvested 32,800 Huns.

 

Counties with the highest percentage of Huns taken by resident hunters in 2018 were Williams, 15.1; Mountrail, 12.1; Logan, 7.3; Ward, 6.5; and Burke, 5.9.

 

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Divide, 10.3; McLean, 9.9; Mountrail, 9.3; Hettinger, 8.9; and Dunn, 8.2.

Hunters Asked to Submit Wing Envelopes

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

Wing data allows biologists to assess production, determine the timing of hatches, 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. 8

North Dakota’s popular hunting seasons for grouse and partridge will open Saturday, Sept. 8.

State Game and Fish Department upland game supervisor Jesse Kolar said last year’s drought is still having an impact on bird numbers.

“Numbers were already low going into 2017, and then we didn’t have good production largely due to the drought, so this spring our numbers were down once again,” Kolar said. “Therefore, assuming typical production this summer, but from fewer birds, hunters should be able to expect similar conditions to last year.”

Shooting hours 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.

In addition, hunters are urged to keep up with the daily rural fire danger index, issued by the National Weather Service, to alert the public to conditions that may be conducive to accidental starting or spread of fires.

County governments also have the authority to adopt penalties for violations of county restrictions related to burning bans. These restrictions apply regardless of the daily fire danger index, and remain in place until each county’s commission rescinds the ban.

Information on current fire danger indexes is available through ndresponse.gov, or from a county sheriff’s office.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2018-19 Hunting and Trapping Guide.

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