Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Sportsman Against Hunger Accepting Goose Meat

The North Dakota Community Action Sportsmen Against Hunger program is again accepting donations of goose meat taken during the early Canada goose season. In addition, the program will accept Canada and light (snow, blue and Ross’s) goose donations during the regular waterfowl season.

080112 column early goose hunt

Similar to last year, hunters can bring in their goose meat to participating processors after removing the breast meat from the birds at home. Or, hunters may also deliver geese directly from the field to a processor, but identification such as the wing or head must remain attached to the bird until in possession of the processor.

For a list of participating processors in North Dakota, visit the North Dakota Community Action website.

Breast meat brought from home without a wing or head attached to the meat must be accompanied by written information that includes the hunter’s name, address, signature, hunting license number, date taken and species and number taken. Information forms are also available at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website.

Hunters will also fill out a brief form so that processors can keep a record on donated goose meat, the same as is required for processing any other type of wild game meat.

Since no goose carcasses or feathers are allowed inside processing facilities, hunters must be able to ensure proper disposal and clean-up of carcasses.


2016 Upland Game Seasons Summarized

The harvest of pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge last year in North Dakota was down from 2015, according to statistics compiled by the State Game and Fish Department.

Last year, more than 76,600 pheasant hunters (down 10 percent) harvested 501,100 roosters (down 15 percent), compared to 85,500 hunters and 590,700 roosters in 2015.

Counties with the highest percentage of pheasants taken by resident hunters in 2016 were Hettinger, 8.7; Morton, 5.8; Burleigh, 5.5; Stark, 5.4; and Williams, 5.3.

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Hettinger, 21.1 percent; Bowman, 10; Adams, 7.1; Divide, 5; and Emmons, 4.4.

In 2016, nearly 18,900 grouse hunters (down 18 percent) harvested 65,500 sharp-tailed grouse (down 21 percent). In 2015, 23,100 hunters took 83,000 sharptails.

Counties with the highest percentage of sharptails taken by resident hunters in 2016 were Mountrail, 8.9; McKenzie, 8.1; Grant, 7.4; Slope, 5.5; and McLean, 5.2.

Top counties for nonresident hunters were McKenzie, 9.3 percent; Mountrail, 9.1; Adams, 7.2; Hettinger, 6.9; and Grant, 6.5.

Last year, 16,900 hunters (down 9 percent) harvested 54,200 Hungarian partridge (down 9 percent). In 2015, 18,600 hunters harvested 59,600 Huns.

Counties with the highest percentage of Huns taken by resident hunters in 2016 were McKenzie, 9.6; Williams, 9.6; Ward, 9.5; Grant, 8.7; and Mountrail, 7.6.

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Stark, 8.1 percent; Divide, 7.4; McKenzie, 7.1; Grant, 6.5; and Hettinger, 6.5.

2017 Waterfowl Regulations Set

North Dakota’s 2017 waterfowl season is set, with the season framework similar to last year.

Noteworthy changes include the daily limit on pintails is reduced from two to one, and the west boundary of the Missouri River Canada Goose Zone, north of N.D. Highway 200, is extended to N.D. Highway 8.

Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 23 for ducks, geese, coots and mergansers. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Sept. 30. The season for swans opens Sept. 30 for both residents and nonresidents.

Hunters may take six ducks per day with the following restrictions: five mallards of which two may be hens, three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two canvasbacks and one pintail. Similar to last year, hunters can take an additional two blue-winged teal from Sept. 23 through Oct. 8. 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 in the Missouri River zone will close Dec. 29, while the remainder of the state will close Dec. 21. The season for whitefronts closes Dec. 3, while the season on light geese is open through Dec. 31. Shooting hours for all geese are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Nov. 4. Beginning Nov. 5, 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. 22, and on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from Nov. 23 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 goose is 50 daily, with no possession limit.

The early Canada goose season will open Aug. 15 and continue through Sept. 15, except in the Missouri River Zone where the season ends Sept. 7. The early Canada goose season has a limit of 15 daily and 45 in possession.

The special youth waterfowl hunting season is Sept. 16-17. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents 15 years of age or younger can hunt ducks, coots, mergansers and geese statewide. Youth hunters must be HIP registered, have a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. A licensed adult of at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field.

Nonresidents have the option of buying either a statewide waterfowl license or one with zone restrictions. Nonresidents who designate zones 1 or 2 may hunt that zone for only one seven-day period during the season. Nonresident hunters who choose to hunt in zone 1 or 2 and wish to use the full 14 consecutive days allowed, must use the other seven days in zone 3. Hunters in zone 3 can hunt that zone the entire 14 days.

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. 7-13.

photoby Craig Birhle, ND Game and Fish

Hunters who do not HIP certify when they buy a North Dakota license, can add it later 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 early 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 2017 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide for further details on the waterfowl season. Paper copies will be at license vendors in early September.

North Dakota Swan Hunt Applications Online Only

Swan hunters who are interested in applying for a 2017 license must submit an online application through the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications are not available this year.

Tundra Swans photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

North Dakota residents and nonresidents are eligible to apply. The resident swan license is $10, while the nonresident fee is $30. The deadline for applying is Aug. 16.

The statewide tundra swan hunting season is Sept. 30 – Dec. 31. A total of 2,700 licenses are available. Successful applicants will receive a tag to take one swan during the season. Since swans are classified as waterfowl, nonresidents may hunt them only during the period their nonresident waterfowl license is valid.

Early Canada Goose Season Announced

North Dakota’s early Canada goose season is set, and bag limits and licensing requirements are the same as last year. However, the west boundary of the Missouri River Canada Goose zone, north of N.D. Highway 200, is extended to N.D. Highway 8.

The season will open Tuesday, Aug. 15 and continue through Sept. 15, except in the Missouri River Zone where the season ends Sept. 7. The early Canada goose season has a limit of 15 daily and 45 in possession.

Limits and shooting hours for the early season are different from the regular season. Shooting hours during the early season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily.

Residents need a $5 early Canada goose license and a general game and habitat license. Also, residents age 16 and older need a small game license. Nonresidents need only a $50 early Canada goose license, and the license is valid statewide without counting against the 14-day regular season license.

A federal duck stamp for hunters age 16 and older, and Harvest Information Program certification, are both required beginning Sept. 1.

Hunters who do not HIP certify when they buy a North Dakota license, can add it later 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 the spring light goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required in each state only once per year.

Waterfowl rest areas, closed to hunting during the regular season, are open during the early season. Most land in these rest areas is private, so hunters may need permission to hunt.

1_Canada geese

In 2016, North Dakota early Canada goose season hunters bagged more than 36,000 birds – the sixth consecutive year hunters reached that number. Top counties for total harvest were Ramsey, McIntosh, Kidder, Benson and Stutsman.

The early hunting season is intended to reduce local Canada goose numbers. Despite liberalized regulations the past several years, with longer seasons, large bag limits and expanded shooting hours, the statewide population remains high, with numbers well above population goals.

For additional information and regulations, hunters should refer to the Game and Fish Department website.

Have You Seen? North Dakota Outdoors Webcast – 07/20/2017

Watch the video right here on a North Dakota  salmon update

Lake Sakakawea has some very deep, cold water that is unused by most fish, so in 1970 the Department began stocking salmon in the lake. Now, each year from about mid-July through August, anglers can enjoy some great salmon fishing in Lake Sakakawea. Learn more about the lake’s salmon and the salmon stocking program in this week’s webcast.

Pronghorn Hunting Season Set, Online Apps Available July 20

North Dakota’s 2017 pronghorn hunting season is set, with 410 licenses available in five open units.

Bruce Stillings, big game management supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department, said the recently completed aerial survey indicated the pronghorn population is down 14 percent from last year. “Numbers were a bit disappointing, but not unexpected due to a combination of a tough winter and extreme drought conditions,” Stillings said.

 pronghorn buck

A total of 30 licenses are available in 2B, 25 in 3A, 80 in 3B, 225 in 4A and 50 in 4C. All licenses are valid for any pronghorn. Units 1A and 2A, which were open to pronghorn hunting in 2016, are closed this year.

“We just don’t have the numbers to support a season in those two units this year,” Stillings said.

On the bright side, Stillings said the fawn-to-doe ratio of .74 to 1 was the highest since 2002. The buck-to-doe ratio of 38 bucks per 100 does remained stable.

“This year’s high fawn production is encouraging for future population growth,” Stillings said. “A moderate winter, with average fawn production next summer, may provide conditions needed for pronghorn population growth to support additional hunting opportunities in 2018.”

Similar to last year, each unit will have a season that is split into an early bow-only portion, and a later gun/bow season.

The bow-only portion of the season is from Sept. 1 (noon) – Sept. 24. Anyone who draws a license can hunt pronghorn with a bow in the unit printed on the license.

From Oct. 6 (noon) – Oct. 22, hunters who still have a valid license can use legal firearms or bow equipment, and again must stay in the assigned unit.

Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply for a 2017 pronghorn license. Hunters who have accumulated bonus points and choose not to apply this year will not lose their points.

In addition, state law allows youth who turn age 12 on or before Dec. 31, 2017 to apply for a license.

Applicants can apply online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.govstarting Thursday, July 20. Paper applications will be available the week of July 24 for printing off the website, and from license vendors, or by calling 800-406-6409.

The pronghorn license fee is $30 for ages 16 and older, and $10 for under age 16. The deadline for submitting applications is Aug. 2.

Sand, Wisness Named to Advisory Board; Hanson Reappointed

Governor Doug Burgum has appointed Cody Sand of Forbes and Beau Wisness of Keene to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s advisory board.


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.

Sand fills the expiring term of Joel Christoferson, Litchville, in District 6, which includes Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells counties.

Wisness fills the expiring term of Jason Leiseth, Arnegard, in District 1, which includes Divide, McKenzie and Williams counties.

In addition, the governor recently reappointed District 5 advisory board member Duane Hanson, West Fargo, to another term.

Four members of the advisory board must be farmers or ranchers and four must be hunters/anglers. Appointments are for a term of four years. No member can serve longer than two terms.

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