Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Find Your Deer License

Now is the time to locate your deer license and check it for accuracy.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Every year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s licensing section receives last-minute inquiries from hunters who can’t find their license. When that happens, it’s difficult to try to get a replacement license in time for the season opener.

Another reason to check the license now is to make sure the unit and species is what was intended.

Deer hunters in need of a replacement license can print out a duplicate (replacement) license application from the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, or can request an application by calling 701-328-6300.

The form must be completely filled out and notarized, and sent back in to the department with a fee.

Pheasant Hunting Season Opens Oct. 7

North Dakota pheasant hunters are reminded the season opens Oct. 7 and continues through Jan. 7, 2018.

In past years, the season typically opened the second Saturday in October. However, the 2017 state legislature passed a law which requires the pheasant hunting season to open no later than Oct. 12. The 2017 North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar, which was printed prior to the start of the legislative session, lists opening day as Oct. 14.

pheasant hunter

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The daily limit is three and possession limit is 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, and a 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.

Hunting from Duck Boats Requires Safety

Waterfowlers hunting from boats are encouraged to wear properly-fitted life jackets while on the water.

photo by Ed Bry, ND Game and Fish

Hunting jackets with life jackets already built in are light and comfortable to wear. In addition, wearing a life jacket will not only keep the overboard hunter afloat, but also slow the loss of critical body heat caused by exposure to cold water.

Capsizing and falling overboard from small boats are the most common types of fatal boating accidents for hunters.

Eight people have drowned in state waters since 1998 while hunting from a boat, and none were wearing life jackets.

Youth Waterfowl Trailer Available

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and Ducks Unlimited co-sponsor a trailer full of waterfowl hunting gear that is available to families with young hunters.

photo by Harold Umber, ND Game and Fish

Purchased by the Game and Fish Department’s Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters grant program, the trailer is designed for families who don’t have the appropriate gear for their young hunters to hunt waterfowl. The equipment is donated by Avery Outdoors.

Use of the trailer is free, and it is equipped with goose and duck decoys for field hunting, and two bags of floating duck decoys and marsh seats for hunting a wetland.

For more information, or to reserve equipment, contact the Ducks Unlimited office in Bismarck at 701-355-3500.

Youth Pheasant Weekend Sept. 30, Oct. 1

North Dakota’s two-day youth pheasant season is Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger may hunt roosters statewide.

youth pheasant hunter

Resident youth hunters, regardless of age, must possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. Otherwise, nonresident youth hunters must purchase a nonresident small game license.

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Youth ages 12 and older need to have passed a certified hunter education course. The daily bag limit and all other regulations for the regular pheasant season apply.

An adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter in the field. The adult may not carry a firearm.

See the 2017 North Dakota Small Game Hunting Guide for additional information.

Waterfowl Hunters Reminded of ANS Regulations

Waterfowl hunters are reminded to do their part in preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species into or within North Dakota.

Waterfowl hunters must remove plants and plant fragments from decoys, strings and anchors; remove plants seeds and plant fragments from waders and other equipment before leaving hunting areas; remove all water from decoys, boats, motors, trailers and other watercraft; and remove all aquatic plants from boats and trailers before leaving a marsh or lake. In addition, hunters are encouraged to brush their hunting dogs free of mud and seeds.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

Cattails and bulrushes may be transported as camouflage on boats. All other aquatic vegetation must be cleaned from boats prior to transportation into or within North Dakota.

In addition, drain plugs on boats must remain pulled when the boat is in transit away from a water body.

More ANS information, including regulations, is available by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

Whooping Crane Migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their fall migration and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

photo by Ed Bry, ND Game and Fish

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds’ activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397, national wildlife refuges; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

Sandhill Crane Season Opens Sept. 16

North Dakota’s sandhill crane season opens Sept. 16 and runs through Nov. 12.

Limits are three daily and nine in possession in unit 1 (west of U.S. Highway 281), and two daily and six in possession in unit 2 (east of U.S. Highway 281). Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Nov. 4. BeginningNov. 5, shooting hours are extended until 2 p.m. each day.

photo by Ed Bry, ND Game and Fish

Hunters are urged to use caution and identify birds to prevent shooting at whooping cranes as they begin their fall migration.

In addition to other licenses required, resident hunters need a $10 crane permit, while nonresidents need a $30 permit. Hunters can buy a license online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Harvest Information Program certification is required. To get HIP certified, access the Department’s website, or call888-634-4798.

Youth Waterfowl is Sept. 16-17

North Dakota’s two-day youth waterfowl season is Sept. 16-17. Legally licensed resident and nonresident youth waterfowl hunters age 15 and younger may hunt ducks, geese, coots and mergansers statewide.

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The daily bag limit and species restrictions for the youth season are the same as for regular duck and goose seasons. Exception: the additional two blue-winged teal allowed during the first 16 days of the regular season are not allowed during the youth season.

Resident and qualifying nonresident youth waterfowl hunters must possess a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Nonresidents from states that do not provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents must purchase the entire nonresident waterfowl license package.

In addition, all youth hunters must be Harvest Information Program certified, and youth ages 12 and older need to have passed a certified hunter education course. Hunters age 15 and younger do not need a federal duck stamp.

Hunters who do not HIP certify when they buy a North Dakota license, can add it by visiting the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, or by calling 888-634-4798 and recording the HIP number on their printed license.

Shooting hours for the youth waterfowl season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. An adult of at least 18 years of age must accompany the resident youth hunter into the field, and a licensed adult is required to accompany a nonresident youth hunter. The two-day weekend hunt does not count against a nonresident adult hunter’s 14-day regular season waterfowl dates.