Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Spring Breeding Duck Numbers Tallied

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 72nd annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 3.4 million birds, up 20 percent from last year.

 

Migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski said the index was the 22nd highest on record and stands 40 percent above the long-term (1948-2018) average.

 

“Breeding duck numbers generally trend with wetland conditions,” Szymanski said. “The large number of ducks in North Dakota this spring can again be attributed to the large number of ducks that we have been producing for many years.”

 

Survey results indicate numbers for all primary species were up from their 2018 estimates, including mallards (16 percent), green-winged teal (81 percent) and ruddy ducks (57 percent). All other ducks ranged from 5 (scaup) to 40 percent (pintails) above last year’s numbers. All species, with the exception of pintails and blue-winged teal, were above the 71-year average.

 

The number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was substantially higher than last year, as figures show the spring water index is up 46 percent. The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands or the type of wetlands represented.

 

“Water conditions ranged from poor to excellent across the state,” Szymanski said. “Excellent wetland conditions in the south and east quickly deteriorated moving into the north central region, but are fair to good in the northwest.”

 

Szymanski said concerns about habitat remain, as nesting cover in North Dakota continues to decline. “Waterfowl breeding habitats are under extreme pressure, and expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts and the continual conversion of habitat to other uses can only further reduce waterfowl production in the state,” he added.

 

The July brood survey provides a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall, Szymanski said, though hunting success is also influenced by bird movements before and during hunting seasons, and weather patterns during the fall migration.

Traveling Boaters Take Note of ANS Regulations

North Dakota boaters who are traveling to or through other states or Canadian provinces, are reminded to check the aquatic nuisance species regulations of their destination, to make sure they are in compliance.

 

Mandatory boat inspections may be required along highways or at lakes based on destination or route taken. In general, to ensure compliance, boaters are encouraged to clean, drain and dry equipment.

  • Clean: remove plants, animals and excessive mud from trailers, hulls, motors and other equipment such as fishing rods.
  • Drain: drain all water, including bilges, livewells and bait buckets.
  • Dry: allow all equipment to dry completely, as an inspection might be failed in a neighboring state if any standing water is present. If necessary, use sponges or towels to remove excess water and leave compartments open to dry.

More information on bordering state and provincial ANS regulations is available at the following web addresses.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Exam Scheduled

The next guide and outfitter written examination is Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a hunting guide or outfitter in the state.

 

In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.

 

Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, as well as an individual must have held a hunting guide license for two years; and must have proof of liability insurance.

 

Interested individuals are required to preregister by calling the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement office at 328-6604.

have you read?

The June  2019 North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find a great piece by Editor Ron Wilson  Big Lake Walleye Spawn Fuels State Fisheries “Walleye spawning is driven by two things – water temperature and photoperiod (daylight),” said Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System fisheries supervisor. “Especially in Lake Sakakawea, which is a big body of water, there is warmer water in many of the bays, while the water is still cold out in the lake.”

Ron also shares thoughts from Greg Power, fisheries division chief, who revists the changes in fish spawning in 40 Years of Eggs and Change

“1979 – 40 years ago – was the first year I spawned fish at this location,” Power said. “At the time, there was a spawning shack here, but very few trees and there weren’t many anglers to speak of back in those days.”

 

Operation Dry Water takes a look at work by game wardens to keep boating safe this summer.

Boating under the influence is always a concern for law enforcement during North Dakota’s open-water season. With more than 64,000 registered watercraft in the state, it’s a certainty when the sun pops, weather warms and the wind dies, that not all water enthusiasts are playing it smart.

Deer Application Deadline is June 5

Hunters are reminded the deadline for submitting applications for the 2019 deer gun season is Wednesday, June 5.

 

Applicants for regular deer gun, youth and muzzleloader can apply online through the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or call 800-406-6409. A service fee is charged for applications made through the 800 number.

 

Gratis applicants must apply online – the toll-free licensing telephone number is not set up to receive gratis applications.

 

Applicants who do not have access to a computer or smartphone can submit the application at a public service location such as a public library, stop at a Game and Fish office, or request help from a friend, relative or neighbor.

 

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline will qualify for an any-legal-deer license. As per state law, gratis applications received after the deadline will be processed based on licenses remaining after the lottery – and generally only antlerless licenses remain.

Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest for 2019 is now open for submissions.

 

The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as plants/insects. An overall winning photograph will be chosen, with the number of place winners in each category determined by the number of qualified entries.

 

The contest guidelines are the same as in previous years, but the process for submitting photos has changed. This year, photographers will provide information and upload images through the Game and Fish Department website only, at gf.nd.gov/photo-contest.

 

Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota.

By submitting an entry, photographers grant permission to Game and Fish to publish winning photographs in North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine, and on the department’s website.

The deadline for submitting photos is Oct. 1. For more information or questions, contact Patrick Isakson, conservation biologist, at pisakson@nd.gov.

Fishing for Free June 1-2

North Dakotans who want to give fishing a try are reminded they can fish for free June 1-2.

 

That is the state’s Free Fishing Weekend, when all residents age 16 and over can fish any North Dakota water without a license. Residents age 15 and under do not need a fishing license at any time of year.

 

Fishing regulations and information on fishing waters is available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, and in the current regulations guide available at license vendor locations.

 

This weekend (June 1-2) is North Dakota’s Free Fishing Weekend. During those two days, all North Dakota residents can fish any state water without a license. Anglers, share your love of fishing by taking a neighbor, a friend, or handful of kids to a nearby water. Introduce them to a slice of North Dakota’s wonderful natural resources that may be common to you, but often overlooked by them.

Summer Safety on the Water

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department urges boaters to keep safety in mind when enjoying time on the water.

 

A boat should have enough life jackets on board for all passengers. North Dakota law requires all children ages 10 and younger to wear a personal flotation device while in boats of less than 27 feet in length. The law also requires all personal watercraft users to wear a life jacket, as well as anyone towed on skis, tubes, boards or other similar devices. However, state law allows an individual who is at least 16 years of age to windsurf or boardsail without wearing a PFD.

 

Water users should make sure to wear life jackets that are the appropriate size, and in good condition. Water skiers and tubers should wear a life jacket with four nylon straps rather than one with a zipper, because straps are stronger than zippers upon impact with water. Anglers or persons paddling a canoe should opt for a PFD that is comfortable enough to wear for an entire outing.

 

It is also important that children wear a PFD while swimming. Swimmers should know the water’s depth, as serious injuries can occur from diving into water. Large objects hidden below the water’s surface can lead to significant injury.

 

Failure to wear a personal flotation device is the main reason people lose their lives in water recreation accidents.

 

North Dakota boaters also are reminded that marine VHF radios are an important part of boat safety that should not be improperly used by operators. These radios are intended for boat operators who are in distress and facing an emergency situation.

 

Regulations to help ensure safe boating this summer are found in the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide. A more comprehensive listing is available in the North Dakota Boat and Water Safety Guide or the Boat North Dakota education book.

Be Courteous at Boat Ramps

North Dakota boaters are reminded to exercise patience and plan accordingly when heading to a lake or river this summer.

 

The state Game and Fish Department receives a number of complaints every year about overly aggressive behavior at boat ramps. A few simple reminders will help ensure a fluent transition when launching and loading a boat.

 

Launching

  • Don’t pull onto the ramp until your boat is ready to launch.
  • Prepare for launching in the parking area. Remove covers, load equipment, remove tie downs, attach lines and put in drain plug, before backing onto the ramp.
  • When ready, pull into line to launch. Wait your turn. Be courteous.
  • It takes at least two people to efficiently and courteously launch a boat: one to handle the boat and one to take care of the tow vehicle.

 

Loading

  • Don’t block the loading area with your boat until your tow vehicle is ready to load. Wait until you are clear of the launch area to unload gear.
  • As soon as your trailer is in the water, load and secure your boat to the trailer.
  • Remove boat and trailer from the water as quickly as possible.
  • Get clear of the ramp. Pull into the parking area to finish securing your boat, unloading gear, draining all water and inspecting for and removing any vegetation. Remember to leave plugs out when transporting boat.