Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

2020 Waterfowl Season

North Dakota’s 2020 waterfowl season opens for residents Sept. 26, while nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl Oct. 3.

 

The season for swans opens Oct. 3 for both residents and nonresidents who have purchased a swan license.

 

Hunters may take six ducks per day with the following restrictions: five mallards of which two may be hens, three wood ducks, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one scaup and one pintail. Hunters can take two additional blue-winged teal from Sept. 26 through Oct. 11. The daily limit of five mergansers may include no more than two hooded mergansers. For ducks and mergansers, the possession limit is three times the daily limit.

 

The hunting season for Canada geese will close Dec. 19 in the eastern zone, Dec. 24 in the western zone and Jan. 1 in the Missouri River zone. The season for whitefronts closes Dec. 6, while the season on light geese is open through Jan. 1.

 

Shooting hours for all geese are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Oct. 31. Beginning Nov. 1, shooting hours are extended until 2 p.m. each day.

 

Extended shooting hours for all geese are permitted from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset on Saturdays and Wednesdays through Nov. 28, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from Nov. 29 through the end of each season.

 

The bag limit for Canada geese during the regular season is eight daily and 24 in possession, except in the Missouri River zone where the limit is five daily and 15 in possession.

 

The daily limit on whitefronts is three with nine in possession, and light geese has a daily limit of 50 with no possession limit.

 

In accordance with state law, nonresidents are not allowed to hunt on North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas from Oct. 10-16.

 

Hunters who do not HIP certify when they buy a North Dakota license can add it through the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, or by calling 888-634-4798 and recording the HIP number on their printed license. Those who registered to hunt North Dakota’s spring light goose season or August Management Take/Early September Canada goose season do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required in each state only once per year.

 

Hunters should refer to the North Dakota 2020-21 Hunting and Trapping Guide for further details on the waterfowl season.

Upland Bird Numbers Improving

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

State Game and Fish Department upland game biologist RJ Gross said results of the annual upland late summer counts brought some good news. “We had good residual cover to start the year, and good weather for nesting and brood-rearing,” he said. “There were some areas that experienced abnormally dry periods throughout the summer, but nesting appeared to be successful.”

Total pheasants observed per 100 miles are up 38% from last year, but 14% below the 10-year average. Broods per 100 miles are up 30% from last year and 16% below the 10-year average. Average brood size is up 10% from 2019 and 5% below the 10-year average. The final summary is based on 275 survey runs made along 100 brood routes across North Dakota.

“While these numbers are encouraging, it’s important to remember that bird numbers in the last five years have been lower than what upland game hunters have been used to for many years, due to changing habitat conditions and the drought of 2017,” Gross said. “For context, these numbers put us about half-way back to where we were prior to the 2017 drought. Local populations are building back up, but they are not at the point yet of spreading out into new territories. Hunters will need to find localized hotspots of pheasants.”

Observers in the northwest counted 12 broods and 91 pheasants per 100 miles, up from five broods and 39 pheasants in 2019. Average brood size was six.

Results from the southeast showed five broods and 41 pheasants per 100 miles, down from six broods and 51 pheasants in 2019. Average brood size was five.

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicated eight broods and 70 pheasants per 100 miles, up from six broods and 41 pheasants in 2019. Average brood size was six chicks.

The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat with lower pheasant numbers compared to the rest of the state, showed three broods and 22 pheasants per 100 miles, compared to three broods and 15 pheasants last year. Average brood size was six.

Sharptails observed per 100 miles are up 54% statewide, and partridge are up 45%.

Brood survey results show statewide increases in number of grouse and broods observed per 100 miles. Observers recorded two sharptail broods and 21 sharptails per 100 miles. Average brood size was six.

Although partridge numbers have shown a slight increase, Gross said most 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 one partridge brood and 10 partridge per 100 miles. Average brood size was 10.

The pheasant season opens Oct. 10 and continues through Jan. 3, 2021. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 3-4.

The grouse and partridge seasons opened Sept. 12 and continues through Jan. 3, 2021.

Hunters Asked to Submit Wing Envelopes

Hunters can help in the effort to manage upland game birds in North Dakota by collecting feathers from harvested birds and sending in wing envelopes.

 

Birds included in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s upland game wing survey, which has been in practice for decades, are ring-necked pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge, turkeys and ruffed grouse.

 

Collecting enough pheasant samples is typically never a problem, but securing enough sharptail and partridge feathers can be.

 

Game and Fish biologists will take as many sharptail and partridge feathers as they can get because the more collected, the better the data. Biologists can determine if the birds are male or female, age ratios, survival, nesting success, hatch dates and overall production.

 

What biologists learn from samples is vital to helping manage North Dakota’s upland game birds.

 

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.

Mountain Lion Season Opens Sept. 4

North Dakota’s mountain lion season opens statewide Friday, Sept. 4, and hunters are reminded the use of dogs is prohibited until after the close of the deer gun season.

Beginning Nov. 23, in addition to legal firearms and archery equipment, pursuing with dogs is allowed.

The season is only open to North Dakota residents.

For season information, including zones and limits, visit the North Dakota 2020-21 Hunting and Trapping Guide on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

Grouse and Partridge Seasons Open Sept. 12

North Dakota’s hunting seasons for grouse and partridge will open Saturday, Sept. 12.

 

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Hungarian partridge 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.

For other season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2020-21 Hunting and Trapping Guide.

Deer Archery Season Opens Sept. 4

North Dakota’s deer archery season opens Friday, Sept. 4 at noon and continues through Jan. 3, 2021.

 

Bowhunters can buy a license online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov; by calling 800-406-6409; or at vendors linked to the Game and Fish Department’s online licensing system. Hunters who purchase bow licenses at a vendor location will receive a tag at time of purchase; otherwise, hunters who purchase their license over the phone or personal computer should allow for several days to receive their tag in the mail.

 

Bowhunters must follow all regulations of the managing agency when using tree stands, ground blinds and game cameras on public hunting areas, including displaying an equipment registration number, or the owner’s name, address and telephone number, on all equipment left unattended on Game and Fish wildlife management areas.

 

In addition, hunting big game over bait is prohibited on both public and private land in deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of U.S. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B and 4C.

 

Hunters should refer to the 2020 deer hunting guide for season information and regulations.

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, in deer units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of U.S. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B and 4C.

 

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department strongly discourages recreational feeding of wildlife within these units. 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.

 

In addition, baiting for any purpose is prohibited on all 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 trust, state park and state forest service lands.

 

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

Dove Season Opens Sept. 1

North Dakota’s dove season opens statewide Sept. 1, and hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting.

The daily limit is 15 and possession limit 45. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. The season is open through Nov. 29.

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

Hunters can HIP certify when purchasing a license at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, hunters can call 888-634-4798.

Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose or August Management Take/Early September Canada goose seasons in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required only once per year. However, hunters must HIP register in each state for which they are licensed before hunting migratory game birds.

Deer Archery Season Opens Sept. 4

North Dakota’s deer archery season opens Friday, Sept. 4 at noon and continues through Jan. 3, 2021.

 

Bowhunters can buy a license online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov; by calling 800-406-6409; or at vendors linked to the Game and Fish Department’s online licensing system. Hunters who purchase bow licenses at a vendor location will receive a tag at time of purchase; otherwise, hunters who purchase their license over the phone or personal computer should allow for several days to receive their tag in the mail.

 

Bowhunters must follow all regulations of the managing agency when using tree stands, ground blinds and game cameras on public hunting areas, including displaying an equipment registration number, or the owner’s name, address and telephone number, on all equipment left unattended on Game and Fish wildlife management areas.

 

In addition, hunting big game over bait is prohibited on both public and private land in deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of U.S. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B and 4C.

 

Hunters should refer to the 2020 deer hunting guide for season information and regulations.