Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Darkhouse Spearfishing Opens at Ice-Up

North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season opens on most state waters whenever ice-up occurs. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

Prior to this year, the darkhouse spearfishing season had opened on Dec. 1.

All individuals who participate in darkhouse spearfishing must first register online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, anglers age 16 and older must possess a valid fishing license.

Spearers and anglers are reminded that materials used to mark holes must be in possession as soon as a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.

North Dakota residents who do not have a fishing license may spear during the winter free fishing weekend Dec. 29-30, but they still need to register to spear.

All waters open to hook and line fishing are open to darkhouse spearing except:

  •      East Park Lake, West Park Lake, Lake Audubon – McLean County
  •      Heckers Lake – Sheridan County
  •      Larimore Dam – Grand Forks County
  •      McClusky Canal
  •      New Johns Lake – Burleigh County
  •      Red Willow Lake – Griggs County
  •      Wood Lake – Benson County

Anglers and spearers should refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide for more information.

Some Refuges Open to Late-Season Upland Game

Hunters are reminded that several national wildlife refuges in North Dakota are open to late-season upland game bird hunting the day after the deer gun season closes.

 

Arrowwood, Audubon, Des Lacs, J. Clark Salyer, Lake Alice, Lake Zahl, Long Lake, Lostwood, Tewaukon (pheasants only), and Upper Souris NWRs open Nov. 26.

 

However, portions of each refuge are closed to hunting. Hunters should contact refuge headquarters for information on closed areas and other restrictions: Arrowwood 701-285-3341; Audubon 701-442-5474; Des Lacs 701-385-4046; J. Clark Salyer 701-768-2548; Lake Alice 701-662-8611; Lake Zahl 701-965-6488; Long Lake 701-387-4397; Lostwood 701-848-2722; Tewaukon 701-724-3598; and Upper Souris 701-468-5467; or visit www.fws.gov and click on “National Wildlife Refuges” for details on each individual refuge.

 

National wildlife refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hunters are reminded that use of nontoxic shot is required on all USFWS lands. State regulations found in the North Dakota 2018-19 Hunting and Trapping Guide apply. Seasons for pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse close statewide on Jan. 6, 2019.

have you read?

The 2018 November  North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find ND Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand’s column Matters Of Opinion inside the cover

The number of deer gun licenses made available to hunters this year (55,150) was more than 2017 (54,500). While that is not a big increase, we are heading in the right direction.

Here at Game and Fish, our deer management plan, which is reevaluated every five years, calls for making available 75,000 deer licenses to hunters.

Meeting this goal is no easy task because it depends greatly on how winter treats North Dakota’s animals and the amount of wildlife habitat on the landscape.

 

Ron Wilson wrote:  Ice Fishing Today, Looking at Tomorrow

In the past 25 years, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists have stocked millions of walleyes into 55 prairie fisheries that cover more than 61,000 acres.

In a state where both open-water and ice anglers place the greatest value on walleye over other fish species, this is good news.

But it gets better.

Ron Wilson takes a look at Shooting Ranges In North Dakota
Properly sighted rifles and shot placement are, for example, important elements to safe, ethical and proficient hunting.

“People need places shoot, to hone their skills and become proficient marksmen and hunters,” said Marty Egeland, Department education supervisor. “It’s our interest at Game and Fish to do what we can to make sure people have somewhere to shoot.”

Advisory Board Meetings Announced

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department fall advisory board meeting in their area.

These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.

The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the department and public.

Any person who requires an auxiliary aid or service must notify the contact person at least five days prior to the scheduled meeting date.

District 6 – Counties: Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells

Date: November 26 – 7 p.m.

Location: Civic Center, 33 Center Ave. E., LaMoure

Host: James River Sportsman’s Club

Contact: Bob Flath, 320-0194

Advisory board member: Cody Sand, Ashley, 357-7011

District 8 – Counties: Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark

Date: November 26 – 7 p.m.

Location: Buffalo Gap Guest Ranch, 3100 Buffalo Gap Road, Sentinel Butte

Host: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Contact: Shawn Kelley, 402-705-2298

Advisory board member: Dwight Hecker, Dickinson, 483-4952

District 3 – Counties: Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner

Date: November 27 – 7 p.m.

Location: Rural Fire District, 215 First St. E., Esmond

Host: Buffalo Lake Wildlife Club

Contact: Julie Groves, 214-0059

Advisory board member: Tom Rost, Devils Lake, 662-8620

District 4 – Counties: Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh

Date: November 27 – 7 p.m.

Location: American Legion, 208 Main St. N., Fordville

Host: Dakota Prairie Wildlife Club

Contact: Lynn Beyer, 331-1074

Advisory board member: Joe Solseng, 317-5009

District 2 – Counties: Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, Mountrail, Pierce, Renville and Ward

Date: December 3 – 7 p.m.

Location: Mountrail County South Complex, 8103 61st St. NW, Stanley

Host: Mountrail County Fowlers

Contact: Nick Gustafson, 629-1622

Advisory board member: Robert Gjellstad, Voltaire, 338-2281

District 5 – Counties: Cass, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill

Date: December 3 – 7 p.m.

Location: Chahinkapa Park Hughes Shelter, 820 RJ Hughes Drive, Wahpeton

Host: North Dakota Wildlife Federation

Contact: Wayne Beyer, 642-2811

Advisory board member: Duane Hanson, West Fargo, 367-4249

District 1 – Counties: Divide, McKenzie and Williams

Date: December 4 – 7 p.m.

Location: Community Center, 1002 Second St. SE, Crosby

Host: Pheasants Forever Northern Ringnecks

Contact: Austin Demmick, 339-3535

Advisory board member: Beau Wisness, Keene, 675-2067

District 7 – Counties: Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux

Date: December 4 – 7 p.m.

Location: Veterans Club, 114 First St. NW, Steele

Host: Kidder County Sportsman’s Association

Contact: Jim Simmers, 220-3251

Advisory board member: Dave Nehring, Bismarck, 214-3184

Hunters Reminded of Big Game Transport Rules

Hunters harvesting a big game animal in deer gun unit 3F2 are reminded they cannot transport the whole carcass, including the head and spinal column, outside of the unit.

In addition, hunters are prohibited from transporting into or within North Dakota the whole carcass of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family from states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD in wild populations, or in captive cervids. As a reminder, Montana is now included in the 2018-19 CWD proclamation as a state that has had free-ranging deer, moose or elk diagnosed with CWD and therefore now has big game transport restriction.

Only the following portions of the carcass can be transported:

  • Meat that has been boned out.
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Hides with no heads attached.
  • Meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.
  • Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
  • Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.
  • Finished taxidermy heads.

Hunters should also note that hunting big game over bait, or placing bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, is prohibited in deer units 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.

Salmon Spawn Completed

Fisheries crews completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System, collecting more than 2.2 million eggs.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System supervisor Dave Fryda said crews easily collected enough eggs to stock the 500,000 smolts planned for Lake Sakakawea in 2019.

“Salmon were very abundant throughout the run, resulting in one of the highest collection of eggs in the history of the salmon program,” Fryda said. “After Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery was filled to capacity, crews were able to collect an additional 387,000 excess eggs that were provided to Montana.”

The majority of eggs were collected from Lake Sakakawea, with help from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam. Average size of Lake Sakakawea female salmon was 6 pounds. Fryda said once again there was an abundance of young male salmon, which typically forecasts a good run the next couple years.

Additional surplus eggs were provided to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to help with their Lake Oahe salmon program.

Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Since salmon cannot naturally reproduce in North Dakota, Game and Fish Department and Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery personnel collect eggs and transport them to the hatchery.

Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend several months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.

Donate Deer to Sportsmen Against Hunger

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding deer hunters to keep in mind the Sportsmen Against Hunger program this fall.

 

While this year’s deer proclamation allows only one deer gun license per hunter, families with more than one license might want to consider donating a deer to this worthy cause. In addition, hunters with an archery and muzzleloader license can help as well.

 

The list of participating processors is available on the Community Action Partnership of North Dakota website, capnd.org.

 

Sportsmen Against Hunger is a charitable program that raises money for processing of donated goose and deer meat, and coordinates distribution of donated meat to food pantries in North Dakota. It is administered by CAPND, a nonprofit agency that serves low-income families across the state.

Report Feral Pig Sightings

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters who might come across feral swine this fall that hunting and trapping them is illegal.

 

Casey Anderson, assistant chief of wildlife for Game and Fish, said while it is uncommon to come across feral swine in North Dakota, it can happen.

 

“Feral swine have been documented a number of times in the state over the last decade,” Anderson said. “It is possible for a hunter to come across one, and it is important to know you can’t hunt or trap them. Instead, the State Board of Animal Health must be contacted immediately.”

 

A landowner may eliminate feral swine on his or her land if they pose an immediate threat, however it is preferable if all feral swine are removed by the state/federal feral swine task force so that samples can be collected for disease surveillance purposes. If a landowner must remove feral swine because of an immediate threat, the BOAH must be contacted within 24 hours, and the landowner should follow any instructions given by the board regarding the handling, preservation and disposal of the carcass.

 

Anyone who observes or suspects the presence of feral swine should call the BOAH at 701-328-2655, Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300, or USDA Wildlife Services at 701-355-3300.

 

Feral pigs cause millions of dollars of damages to property, crops and wildlife habitat across the nation each year. They also can spread a number of diseases and parasites. It is very hard to eradicate feral pigs once they’ve become established in an area. Two separate bands were removed from North Dakota in 2007. Since then, there have been occasional reports of feral pigs in several areas of the state. While it is illegal to shoot or trap these pigs, if you happen to observe one when you’re out hunting, please report the sighting to one of the agencies below as soon as possible.

 

Note: Landowners may eliminate feral pigs on their land if the pigs pose an immediate threat to livestock or property. See https://www.nd.gov/ndda/animal-health/feral-swine for more information.

 

Report sightings to:

- State Board of Animal Health at 701-328-2655

- Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300

- USDA Wildlife Services at 701-355-3300.

Deer Season Questions and Answers

Every year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department receives questions from deer hunters who want to clarify rules and regulations. Some common questions are listed below. Hunters with further questions are encouraged to call the Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays, or access big game, white-tailed and mule deer, under the hunting and trapping link at the department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

 

What licenses do I need for deer gun season? A general game and habitat stamp or a combination license, and the deer license. Gratis license holders need only the gratis license. The deer license is mailed after the general game and habitat license is purchased.

 

Can I use my gratis license to take a mule deer doe? Not in unit 4A.

 

I shot a deer in Unit 3F2. What field dressing restrictions must I follow? Hunters cannot transport the whole carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of the unit. Exceptions: meat that has been boned out; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately; hides with no heads attached; clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached; antlers with no meat or tissue attached; upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories; and finished taxidermy heads.

 

I received a lottery license, and I own land in another unit. Can I hunt on my land in the other unit with my lottery license? A person who holds a valid license to hunt deer may hunt the same species and sex of deer on land in an adjoining unit for which that person would be eligible for a gratis deer license.

 

I can’t find my deer license. What should I do? You must obtain an application for a duplicate license from the Game and Fish Department – by calling 701-328-6300 or printing it off the website at gf.nd.gov. Fill out the form, have it notarized and return it to the Department along with a fee. You may not hunt without the deer license in your possession. If you find the original license after receiving a replacement, you must return the original to a local game warden or Game and Fish office.

 

Can hunters age 14 or 15 (and qualifying 13-year-olds) with a youth season license who did not harvest a deer during the youth season, hunt the regular deer gun season with this license? Yes, but you are subject to the restrictions listed on the license.

 

I was unsuccessful in filling my mule deer buck license in a restricted unit during the youth season. Can I hunt the remainder of the state during the regular gun season? No. You are restricted to the same unit as during the youth season.

 

I shot a deer, but it is rotten. What can I do? You must take possession of the animal by tagging it. A license only allows you the opportunity to hunt. It is not a guarantee to harvest a deer, or to the quality of the animal.

 

What should I do if I find a wounded deer? Contact a game warden. Do not shoot the deer unless you want to tag it or are instructed by the warden to do so.

 

Is camouflage blaze orange acceptable for the deer gun season? No. You must wear both a hat and outer garment above the waistline totaling at least 400 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange.

 

I hunt with a bow. When do I have to wear orange? Only during the regular deer gun season.

 

Can I hunt road rights-of-way? Do not hunt on road rights-of-way unless you are certain they are open to public use. Most road rights-of-way are easements under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.

 

Can I hunt on a section line if it is posted on both sides? No. If the land is posted on both sides, the section line is closed to hunting, but is still open for travel.

 

Can I retrieve a wounded deer from posted land? If the deer was shot on land where you had a legal right to be and it ran onto posted land, you may retrieve it. However, you may not take a firearm or bow with you. The department suggests contacting the landowner as a courtesy prior to entering.

 

What if the landowner says I cannot retrieve a deer from posted land that was shot on land where I had a right to be? Contact a game warden.

 

Can I drive off a trail on private land to retrieve a deer? Unless prohibited by a landowner or operator, you may drive off-trail on private land once a deer has been killed and properly tagged. You must proceed to the carcass by the shortest accessible route and return to the road or trail by the same route. However, off-trail driving is prohibited in all circumstances on state wildlife management areas, Bureau of Land Management lands, national wildlife refuges, national grasslands, federal waterfowl production areas and state school land.

 

Do I need to pay attention to the fire danger index in November? In a year with a lack of moisture it can be of concern. When these conditions are present, hunters should keep track of the daily fire danger index, which restricts off-trail vehicle use and recreational fires when the index is in the Very High, Extreme and Red Flag Warning categories. Some counties may also still have localized restrictions in place.

 

Can I transport someone else’s deer? Yes, but you will need a transportation permit from a game warden. The license holder, person transporting the animal, and the carcass must be presented to the game warden before the permit is issued.

 

What if I am going to take my deer head to a taxidermist and meat to a butcher shop? How do I keep the tag with it all? The tag should remain with the head and the carcass tag should remain with the meat.

 

May I carry a pistol when I am hunting with a deer rifle? Yes, but the handgun must meet minimum requirements listed in the deer hunting regulations to be legal for taking deer.

 

Can I use a bow to fill my regular deer gun license? Yes. You may use any legal firearm or bow during the regular deer gun season.

 

Can I carry both bow and gun afield during deer gun season if I have both licenses? Yes, but only if you are going to fill your gun license. No firearms, except handguns, may be in the hunter’s possession while hunting with a deer bow license. However, handguns may not be used in any manner to assist in the harvest of a deer with an archery license.