Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Spring Pheasant Count Up from Last Year

North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is up 15% from the same time last year, according to the state Game and Fish Department’s 2020 spring crowing count survey.

R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist, said the number of roosters heard crowing this spring was up statewide, with increases ranging from 1% to 18% in the primary regions holding pheasants.

“We entered spring with a larger breeding population compared to last year,” Gross said. “Hens should be in good physical shape for nesting season and cover should be plentiful from the residual moisture left from last fall.”

However, Gross said there is concern with drought conditions in the western part of the state, and whether insects will be available to chicks for brood rearing.

“I am hopeful for above-average chick survival due to the lush cover and predicted warm temperatures, but we can use some rain,” Gross said. “But we don’t want any severe weather events.”

While the spring number is an indicator, Gross said it does not predict what the fall population will look like. Brood surveys, which begin in late July and are completed by September, provide a much better estimate of summer pheasant production and what hunters might expect for a fall pheasant population.

Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stop at predetermined intervals, and count the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a 2-minute period during the stop.

The number of pheasant crows heard is compared to the previous year’s data, providing a trend summary.

Late Season Hunting Opportunities End Soon

North Dakota waterfowl hunters are reminded the statewide duck and white-fronted goose seasons close Dec. 1. However, duck hunting in the high plains unit reopens Dec. 7 and continues through Dec. 29.

 

In addition, the season for Canada geese closes Dec. 16 in the eastern zone, Dec. 21 in the western zone and Dec. 27 in the Missouri River zone. Light goose hunting closes statewide Dec. 29.

 

Archery deer, fall turkey, sharp-tailed and ruffed grouse, partridge, pheasant and tree squirrel hunting seasons continue through Jan. 5, 2020.

Tentative 2018 Season Opening Dates

Tentative 2018 Season Opening Dates

To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2018, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year.

Dates become official when approved by governor’s proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2018 include:

Spring Turkey April 14
Deer and Pronghorn Bow, Mountain Lion August 31
Dove September 1
Sharptail, Hun, Ruffed Grouse, Squirrel September 8
Youth Deer September 14
Youth Waterfowl September 15
Early Resident Waterfowl September 22
Regular Waterfowl, Youth Pheasant September 29
Pronghorn Gun October 5
Pheasant October 6
Fall Turkey October 13
Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping October 27
Deer Gun November 9
Deer Muzzleloader November 30

 

Late-Season Hunting Opportunities End Soon

North Dakota waterfowl hunters are reminded the statewide duck and white-fronted goose seasons close Dec. 3. However, duck hunting in the high plains unit reopens Dec. 9 and continues through Dec. 31.

pheasant hunter

In addition, the season for Canada geese closes Dec. 21, except for the Missouri River Zone, which closes Dec. 29. Light goose hunting closes statewide Dec. 31.

Archery deer, fall turkey, sharp-tailed and ruffed grouse, partridge, pheasant and tree squirrel hunting seasons continue through Jan. 7, 2018.

 

Some Refuges Open to Late-Season Upland Game

Hunters are reminded that several North Dakota national wildlife refuges 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. 27.

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 2017-18 Small Game Guide apply. Seasons for pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse close statewide on Jan. 7, 2018.

Doug.Leier2017a

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.

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.