North Dakota Hunters Educators Association




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Look for new events on our events calendar page!


APROXIMATE DEADLINES FOR BIG GAME HUNTING APPLICATION now available on the Events Calendar, click on the link to the left or click here!


Information is available about our upcoming annual meeting and events for North Dakota Game and Fish annual award meeting and workshops coming up!  Click on the link to the left or click here!


2016 Quarterly meeting dates

Meeting times: 1:00 PM  

Location: ND Game and Fish Department

1.       First quarter-April 23th

2.       2nd Quarter-July 16th

3.       Third Quarter-August 27th

4.       Fourth Quarter-October 15th



NDG&F July 1st Newsletter


Game and Fish Tallies Spring Pheasant, Grouse Numbers

North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is up slightly from last year, while sharp-tailed grouse numbers are down slightly, according to recent surveys conducted by State Game and Fish Department biologists.

Aaron Robinson, upland game management supervisor, said the number of pheasant roosters heard on the spring crowing count survey was up just about 2 percent statewide. Numbers in the southeast were down from last year, Robinson said, while “the other regions from west to central were up slightly, but not enough to say there’s a big increase from last year.”

Sharp-tailed grouse counts on spring dancing grounds or leks were down about 6 percent statewide from last year. “We were kind of expecting that,” Robinson added. “We had some dry weather last year and production wasn’t as good.”

While the spring counts provide a good indicator of the number of breeding birds in the two populations, Robinson says it’s primarily early summer weather that influences hunting success in the fall. “You have to have the right conditions to produce a good hatch,” he said. “You don’t want really wet, cold years, and you don’t want dry years. Dry years don’t produce those insects that chicks need to survive those first 10 days.”

Game and Fish biologists will start their summer upland game brood counts in mid-July, and Robinson said that will lead to more precise fall population predictions. “That’s when we really start to understand what our production was for the year.”

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


Important NDHEA info regarding Mentored Hunts and Family Shooting events

NDHEA is pleased to be offering assistance with funding for Mentored Hunts and Family Shooting Events!

Family Fun Shoot/Mentored Hunt policies

click here to download a copy of the policies

Request for Participation (RFP) to conduct an event

click here to download the RFP form



All meetings are to be held at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department building in Bismarck.

The following meetings will be held instead in Minot ND @
Minot Holiday Inn Riverside
2200 East Burdick Expressway
Minot ND. 58701

Coyote Catalog Available for Hunters, Landowners

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department have reopened the Coyote Catalog to connect coyote hunters and trappers with landowners who want fewer coyotes in their areas.
The Coyote Catalog is an online database similar to the one the Game and Fish Department uses to connect deer hunters with farmers and ranchers.
“We’ve had a lot of success matching deer hunters with landowners,” said NDGF Director Terry Steinwand. “We hope the Coyote Catalog works out just as well.”
NDDA officials estimate livestock producers in North Dakota lost more than $1 million last year to coyotes. At the same time, coyotes are a popular furbearer species for hunters and trappers.
“I encourage landowners, especially farmers and ranchers who have problems with coyote depredation, to sign up for the Coyote Catalog,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Hunting and trapping are valuable tools in managing these predators.”
Goehring and Steinwand said the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services should be the first contact for landowners experiencing coyote depredation of livestock.
Landowners can sign up on the NDDA website at Required information includes county and contact information.
Hunters and trappers can sign up at the NDGF website at
Periodically throughout the winter, hunters or trappers will receive information on participating landowners, and they can then contact landowners to make arrangements.
Although the Coyote Catalog does not guarantee a good match for every participating landowner or hunter, Goehring and Steinwand said it has great potential to focus hunting or trapping pressure in areas where farmers and ranchers are experiencing coyote depredation problems.
Anyone who registered for the Coyote Catalog in the past must register again to activate their names on the database.
The Coyote Catalog will remain active through March 31, and then start up again next winter.

Game and Fish to Recommend One Deer License in 2015

A new plan under consideration by the State Game and Fish Department would allow North Dakota deer hunters only one license per year, starting with the 2015 season.
The preferred license distribution plan is the result of a declining deer population and continuing high license demand. “This year we had about 30,000 people who applied for a deer gun license and didn’t get one in the lottery,” said Game and Fish wildlife division chief Jeb Williams. “This new system will give more people an opportunity to hunt deer each year, compared to our current system.”
To gather input on possible changes, Game and Fish held a series of public deer management meetings across the state last winter. Hundreds of people attended these meetings, and many more interested hunters and landowners also provided written or verbal comments on how Game and Fish might manage deer license distribution, given the low population of both whitetail and mule deer in much of the state.
Following the deer management meetings, potential changes were also discussed at the spring round of public Game and Fish advisory board meetings held around the state.
“After evaluating all the input we received last winter,” Williams said, “the general feedback we heard is that hunters understand there is no longer enough licenses so that everyone can get one for the gun season, but at the same time, they don’t feel the current system is equitably distributing licenses, since some hunters can get two or even three licenses when thousands of hunters get none.”
To begin to address that inequity, Game and Fish’s preferred option for 2015 is to limit each hunter to one deer license per year. Williams said that still doesn’t guarantee that every gun hunter who applies in the lottery will get a deer license, but it will eliminate the possibility of someone getting multiple licenses.
If deer populations rebound substantially, Williams said the way licenses are allocated could return to the current system. “However, we are dealing with two dynamics that will make it difficult to do so anytime soon,” Williams added. “We have a deer herd that has been trending downward for several years, and we also have a growing population of people who possibly are interested in North Dakota’s hunting and fishing opportunities.”
In the preferred option, a hunter who is successful in the deer gun lottery would not be able to purchase a bow license or receive a muzzleloader license. However, as a way to provide additional bowhunting recreation, a hunter with a lottery gun license could also hunt with a bow any time during the open archery season, but only for the deer and unit specified on the license.
Resident hunters who apply in the deer gun lottery and do not receive a license, will still be able to purchase a bow license that is valid statewide for any deer.
“This is one of those things that we heard from people who like to hunt with both gun and bow,” Williams said. “They wanted to be able to apply for a gun license, and if they didn’t get one, they could still get a bow license. At the same time, if they did draw a gun license, they wanted a chance to hunt that deer with a bow during the archery season as well.
“We know it’s not the same as having both a gun and a bow license,” Williams added, “but we feel it’s a fair compromise while we work toward rebuilding our deer herd.”
Another part of the preferred option is that hunters would be able to apply simultaneously for the deer gun and muzzleloader lotteries. The application would allow choice of a preference, so if the hunter’s name is drawn and both muzzleloader and deer gun licenses are available at that time, the computer would issue the hunter’s preferred license.
In such cases, the computer would then remove the hunter’s name from the other lottery. Also in that case, Williams said a hunter would maintain the accumulated bonus points for the application that was removed from the lottery.
In addition, Williams said hunters will not lose any bonus points if they choose not to apply for a particular license.
Youth hunters under age 16 would be exempt under the preferred option, and could get a bow license as well as a deer gun or youth season license.
Gratis license holders could hunt in any open season on their own land, but may only get one license per year.

Information Sought in Illegal Taking of White-tailed Deer in Emmons County

North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden Erik Schmidt is searching for answers in the illegal shooting of four white-tailed deer in Emmons County during opening weekend of pheasant hunting season.
Schmidt said two mature bucks, one a 4x4 and the other a 5x5, were found in a bean field 1.5 miles east of Strasburg. A doe and fawn were found in a stubble field 5 miles southwest of Linton. It is believed all four were shot late evening Oct. 11, or early morning Oct. 12.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Report All Poachers telephone number at 800-472-2121, or contact Schmidt at 701-220-7160. RAP is offering a $1,000 reward.
The RAP line offers rewards for information that leads to conviction of fish and wildlife law violators. Reporting parties can remain anonymous.


Sportsmen Against Hunger Accepting Goose Meat

North Dakota’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program can now accept donations of Canada geese taken during the regular waterfowl hunting season.
Previously, the program could accept snow, blue and Ross’s geese during the regular season, but Canada goose donations were only allowed during the early Canada goose season.
This new opportunity for hunters to donate goose meat is part of a two-year pilot program between the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“In the past couple of years we have heard from many hunters who would like to donate geese taken during the regular season,” said Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand. “We appreciate the Fish and Wildlife Service setting up this pilot program so we can see how well it works.”
North Dakota Community Action Sportsmen Against Hunger program coordinator Sarah Hasbargen said the additional donations accepted during this pilot project will be a much-needed increase to food pantries across the state. “We will accept as much as hunters are able to donate,” Hasbargen said, while mentioning donated goose meat must be received no later than the day after the close of the season.
Provisions for donating goose meat during the regular season are basically the same as for the early Canada goose season. In addition, hunters can also donate meat from geese that were taken during the early season.
Hunters can bring their geese home and clean them prior to delivering meat to a processor, but 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.
Hunters may also deliver geese directly from the field to a processor, but identification must remain attached to the bird until in possession of the processor. Since no goose carcasses or feathers are allowed inside processing plants, hunters must be able to ensure proper disposal and clean-up of carcasses.
The list of participating processors is available on the Game and Fish Department website at, and at the NDCAP website,
Hunters interested in donating are encouraged to call the processor before dropping off geese, to have a clear understanding of how processors will accept goose breasts, and their hours of operation.
The North Dakota Community Action 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 the North Dakota Community Action Partnership, a nonprofit agency that serves low-income families across the state.
SFor more information, visit the NDCAP website, or contact Sarah Hasbargen at 701-232-2452.



NDGF Legislative Update

View the status of outdoor related legislation here


Secondary Boat Ramp at Beaver Bay, Lake Oahe to Close for Repairs

The Beaver Bay boat ramp located east of Highway 1804 on Lake Oahe will be closed July 11-15 for road repairs and construction.

The main ramp at Beaver Bay will remain open.


Spring Breeding Duck Numbers Tallied

 The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 3.4 million birds, down 5 percent from last year.

“The spring migration was well ahead of normal as open fields and warm temperatures allowed early migrants to pass quickly through the state,” said migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski.

Survey results indicated all species, except ruddy ducks (up 19 percent) and gadwall (up 4 percent), decreased from their 2015 estimates, while shovelers remained unchanged.

Mallards were down 9 percent, pintails down 17 percent and canvasbacks down 18 percent. However all species, with the exception of pintails and canvasbacks, were above the long-term average (1948-2015).

Szymanski said the number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was substantially lower than last year, with the spring water index down 50 percent. “However, conditions coming out of May into June were much wetter than what we observed during the week of the survey,” Szymanski added. “Frequent rains have since filled many wetlands that are beneficial for breeding ducks.”

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. Szymanski said the July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall.

“The total breeding duck index is still in the top 20 all time, so there is still a lot of potential for good production this year,” he added. “Hopefully improved wetland conditions since the May survey will carry through into increased wetland availability for duck broods.”

USFWS Says Moose May Warrant Future Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that a subspecies of moose found in North Dakota and three other states could warrant federal protection. 

The finding opens a full status review by the USFWS to determine whether moose could be listed under the Endangered Species Act. State Game and Fish Department officials emphasize the finding merely initiates a status review of moose in the Upper Midwest, and it will not affect any current state regulations in the foreseeable future.

The announcement concerns the population of the moose subspecies found only in the Midwest, including Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin in addition to North Dakota. Jeb Williams, Game and Fish Department wildlife division chief, said the Department will be providing data to show that the state’s moose population has been doing quite well for years.

Williams mentioned if data on North Dakota's moose population had been considered in the petition's finding, it's possible the state's moose population would have been excluded from the process. “This can be a long and confusing process, but North Dakotans need to understand that nothing will change in the interim and we believe our moose population will continue to do well,” Williams said.

Currently the state’s highest moose densities are found in the northwest, while numbers in what was once considered traditional habitat in the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Hills, remain low. Overall, the statewide population is stable to increasing. North Dakota held its first moose hunting season in 1977 and 10 licenses were made available to hunters.

The season has run uninterrupted since then. For 2016, the Game and Fish Department allocated 202 moose licenses, up 70 from 2015. The Department continues to monitor moose that die from causes other than hunting, to determine any effects of disease and to gain a better understanding of why they died.

In addition, a three-year moose research study is ongoing in the Kenmare area and on the Missouri River bottoms southeast of Williston. The research is focusing on annual survival, cause-specific mortality, reproduction rates, annual and season movements and home range use, as well as seasonal habitat selection.

Williston Angler Snags Record Paddlefish

Grant Werkmeister of Williston snagged a record 131-pound paddlefish on May 7, about 20 miles southwest of Williston near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has confirmed that Werkmeister’s 71-inch paddlefish is the heaviest fish caught in North Dakota, breaking the previous record of 130 pounds set in 2010. North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season was open May 1-13.

Rainbow Smelt Die-off Occurring in Lake Sakakawea

A fish kill affecting adult rainbow smelt is ongoing in portions of the upper half of Lake Sakakawea, according to Dave Fryda, Missouri River System fisheries supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Fryda said the cause of the die-off has been documented numerous times in North Dakota in the past. “The vast majority of the dead and dying smelt have physical signs of Columnaris bacteria,” said Fryda, “we’ve recovered infected fish from White Earth Bay downstream to Deepwater Bay and Van Hook Arm.”

Columnaris bacteria are present in all water bodies, and outbreaks typically occur when rapid water temperature changes occur at a time when the fish are stressed, such as after spawning. “The smelt recently spawned in Lake Sakakawea, and were recovering from that stress when we experienced near record-high temperatures last week which boosted the water temperature in the shallow bays where the smelt spawned,” Fryda added.

Smelt affected by Columnaris often develop visible skin irritations that have the appearance of fuzz or mold. Although there is no known cause for concern when in physical contact with these fish, the department suggests to leave the fish alone.

Lake Sakakawea has not had a widespread smelt die-offs since the mid- to late 1980s, a time when the overall smelt population was very high. Fryda said the current smelt population is the highest it’s been for decades, so that is likely part of the reason the bacteria has spread over such a wide area.

The overall significance of this year’s die-off will likely be minimal, however, Fryda said the effects on the population won’t be known until later this summer when fisheries crews assess the adult smelt population. 

Paddlefish Snagging Season to Close Monday

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is closing the state's 2016 regular paddlefish snagging season, effective at 9 p.m. Central Daylight Time, on Monday, May 9. Snaggers are reminded that Sunday and Monday are snag-and-release only.

The 2016-18 fishing proclamation allows for the Game and Fish director to close the snagging season early if it appears the harvest will exceed 1,000 paddlefish.

“Snaggers this year have been extremely successful,” said Greg Power, fisheries chief. “In addition, similar to last year, a high proportion of this year’s harvest has consisted of mostly females, further necessitating an early season closure.”

An additional four-day snag-and-release season will begin Tuesday, May 10 and run through Friday, May 13. Paddlefish snaggers with an unused paddlefish tag can continue snagging during the additional snag-and-release season, but must release all fish immediately. Snaggers who already used their tag on a harvested paddlefish are not allowed to participate in the additional snag-and-release period.

Snag-and-release is legal only in that area of the Missouri River starting on the north shore from the Confluence boat ramp then east (downstream) one-half mile, and that area of the Missouri River starting on the south shore from the Confluence with the Yellowstone River then east (downstream) one-half mile (both areas will have boundary signs).

Paddlefish snagging is allowed only from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (CDT) during each day of the additional four-day season. The use or possession of a gaff on snag-and-release days is illegal.


Catchable Trout, Catfish, Pike Stocked

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently stocked more than 40 local fisheries with catchable trout, catfish and pike.

Approximately 23,000 11-inch rainbow trout, 800 adult catfish, 750 5-pound pike and 600 1- to 5-pound cutthroat trout were recently stocked in rural and city ponds and lakes.

Fisheries production and development section leader Jerry Weigel said while the state’s fisheries are at historic highs, many are not as easily accessible to youngsters, older adults and disabled anglers.

“These stockings put catchable fish in waters that are accessible,” Weigel said. “Many have fishing piers, and are a great opportunity for a first-time angler to catch fish.”

·         Barnes – Blumers Pond (rainbow), Hatchery Kids Pond (rainbow)

·         Bottineau – Strawberry Lake (rainbow)

·         Bowman – Lutz Dam (rainbow)

·         Burleigh – Cottonwood Park Pond (pike), McDowell Dam (cutthroat, rainbow), OWLS Pond (cutthroat, rainbow)

·         Cass – Casselton Pond (rainbow), North Woodhaven Pond (rainbow)

·         Cavalier – Langdon City Pond (rainbow)

·         Golden Valley – Beach City Pond (rainbow)

·         Grand Forks – Ryan Park Pond (rainbow)

·         Hettinger – Castle Rock Dam (rainbow), Mott Watershed Dam (rainbow)

·         McKenzie – Watford City Park Pond (catfish, rainbow)

·         McLean – Camp Loop Pond (rainbow), Custer Mine (rainbow), Lightning Lake (rainbow), Riverdale City Pond (rainbow)

·         Mercer – Hazen Creek (rainbow)

·         Morton – Gaebe Pond (catfish, rainbow), Krieg’s Pond (catfish, rainbow), Little Heart Pond (rainbow), Nygren Dam (rainbow), Porsborg Dam (cutthroat, rainbow)

·         Mountrail – Stanley Pond (catfish, rainbow)

·         Oliver – Oliver County Sportsmen’s Pond (rainbow)

·         Ransom – Mooringstone Pond (rainbow)

·         Renville – Glenburn Pond (rainbow)

·         Rolette – Lake Udall (rainbow)

·         Stark – Belfield Pond (catfish, rainbow), Dickinson Dike (catfish, cutthroat)

·         Stutsman – Little Britches Pond (rainbow), Streeter Lake (rainbow)

·         Grand Forks -- Turtle River (rainbow)

·         Ward – State Fair Pond (rainbow), Velva Sportsmen’s Pond (rainbow)

·         Williams – East Spring Lake Pond (pike), Kettle Lake (rainbow), West Spring Lake Pond (catfish, rainbow)

In addition, rainbow trout were also stocked into larger waters. Anglers should refer to the fishing tab at the Game and Fish Department’s website,, for a complete stocking report.


Moose and Elk Lotteries Held, Bighorn Sheep in September

North Dakota’s moose and elk lottery results are available online at the State Game and Fish Department’s website,

Applicants can find individual results by clicking “find lottery results/preference points” under the buy and apply link.

Successful applicants will receive a letter the week of May 2, stating the license will be mailed after the successful applicant submits the correct license fee.

The bighorn sheep lottery is scheduled in September, after summer population surveys are completed and total licenses are determined. Once the lottery is held, successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.


Boat Safety Class Offered in Bismarck

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will conduct a certified Boat North Dakota Safety Course on Saturday, April 16 at the department’s main office in Bismarck.  

The class is scheduled from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., and is limited to 25 students. The course is free, and all materials are provided.

State law requires youngsters ages 12-15 who want to operate a boat or personal watercraft alone with at least a 10 horsepower motor to first pass the Boat North Dakota Course. In addition, some insurance companies give adult boat owners who pass the course a discount on boat insurance.

For more information, or to register for the class, contact Pat Lothspeich at 701- 328-6332.


2016-18 Fishing Regulations Set, New License Required

North Dakota’s 2016-18 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018. Anglers are reminded that new fishing licenses are required April 1.

Noteworthy regulation changes include:

  • A free fishing weekend was added for North Dakota residents during the ice fishing season. In the coming winter, the free weekend will be held Dec. 31 – Jan. 1, 2017.
  • The statewide possession limit for bluegill, yellow perch and white bass was reduced from 80 to 40 each.
  • All drain plugs that hold back water must be removed, and all draining devices must be open on all watercraft and recreational bilges and confined spaces, during out-of-water transport.
  • All water must be completely drained from bait containers, including bait buckets, upon leaving the Red River, or any other waters designated as infested with Class 1 prohibited aquatic nuisance species.
  • Sweet Briar Dam and Braun Lake are open to darkhouse spearfishing, and Larimore Dam and Wood Lake are closed to darkhouse spearfishing.
  • Markers must be in the possession of anglers and/or spearers as soon as a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.
  • Largemouth bass and northern pike length restrictions are eliminated on Red Willow Lake and largemouth bass length restrictions removed on North and South Golden lakes.
  • Fishing rods must be easily visible and within a maximum distance of 150 feet of participating anglers.
  • One snapping turtle may be harvested annually between July 1 and Nov. 15.

Fishing licenses can be purchased using a computer or smartphone by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website,, or at license vendors that are linked to the department’s online licensing system. Since participating vendors will need to sell licenses electronically, paper license booklets are no longer available at license vendors.

Not all vendors that sold licenses in the past will still sell licenses. A list of vendors participating in electronic licensing sales is available on the department’s website.  Vendors on the list as of April 1 will be linked to the department’s online licensing system.

Licenses may also be purchased by calling the department’s instant licensing telephone number at 800-406-6409 any time day or night. A service charge is added for licenses purchased through the instant licensing telephone number.





Spring Turkey Drawing Held, Licenses Remain

The 2016 spring wild turkey lottery has been held and hopeful hunters can check individual results by accessing the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at

A total of 883 licenses remain in 10 units. The governor’s proclamation allows a maximum of two licenses, and hunters who did not apply in the first drawing are also eligible.

Licenses remain in unit 03, Benson and Ramsey counties and portions of Pierce County; unit 06, Bowman County; unit 13, Dunn County; unit 19, Grant and Sioux counties and portions of Morton County; unit 25 McHenry County and portions of Pierce and Ward Counties; unit 31, Mountrail County; unit 45, Stark County; unit 47, Eddy, Foster, Kidder, Sheridan, Stutsman and Wells counties; unit 51, Burke County and portions of Renville, Bottineau and Ward counties; and unit 99, Mercer and Oliver counties.

Licenses are issued on a first-come, first-served basis beginning March 16. Applicants can apply online, or print an application to mail at the Game and Fish website. In addition, applications can be requested by calling 701-328-6300. Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply.

The spring turkey season opens April 9 and continues through May 15.


Meetings to Discuss Mountain Lion Management

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials will host three public meetings this month to discuss the status of the state’s mountain lion population.

Results of a two-phase research project and biological findings from animals harvested over the last decade show the population has steadily declined over the past several years.

“We want to share what we’ve learned about managing mountain lions in North Dakota over the last 10 years,” said Jeb Williams, wildlife division chief. “Considering what we knew about mountain lions in North Dakota prior to 2005, which was very little, the information gathered in the last decade is significant.”

Meeting dates and locations to discuss what state wildlife managers have learned are as follows: Feb. 23, Game and Fish Department headquarters, Bismarck, 7 p.m.; Feb. 24, Fargo Holiday Inn, 7 p.m.; and Feb. 29, Killdeer Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, 7 p.m.

North Dakota has had a mountain lion hunting season every year since 2005. The Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with researchers from South Dakota State University, launched the first part of a two-phase research project in 2011. Phase II is expected to be completed in 2017.

“We have made amazing headway in the last four years, and by the time Phase II is done we will have a really good handle on this population,” said Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist.


Administrative Rules Hearing Set for Jan. 12

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will hold a public hearing to address proposed rule changes to North Dakota Administrative Code Title 30. The hearing is scheduled for 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the agency’s main office in Bismarck.

The purpose and explanation of the proposed rule change is as follows:

Chapter 30-03-06-05 – Water prohibited. Currently all drain plugs must be removed from all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces when entering the state or leaving the Red River. To reduce the threat of transport of aquatic nuisance species, it is proposed the current administrative rule be extended statewide, requiring all drain plugs be removed, and water draining devices be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial, and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport. 

The proposed rule language may be reviewed at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095, or on the Department’s website at A copy of the proposed rules may be requested in writing, or by calling 701-328-6305, or emailing Written or oral comments on the proposed rules must be received by Jan. 22, 2016 for consideration.

Anyone who attends the public hearing and needs special facilities or assistance relating to a disability should contact the Game and Fish Department at least seven days before the public hearing.


Ice Anglers Rescued

Two Bismarck anglers were rescued from a Kidder County lake last night, after they couldn’t get back to shore because the ice had heaved and melted away from the shoreline.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden Greg Hastings, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warden Ben Cleghorn, and Stutsman County sheriff’s deputy Damian Hoyt used an air boat to reach the stranded anglers and transport them back to shore.

“This was a serious situation where everything turned out OK,” said Game and Fish enforcement chief Robert Timian, “and it’s also a critical warning that ice conditions can vary from lake to lake, and can even change during the day, depending on the weather. Anglers need to use extreme caution before venturing out on the ice right now.”

Warden Hastings received a call from state radio at about 7:45 p.m. yesterday, with information that two men were stranded on the ice at Round Lake near Pettibone, N.D. Hastings contacted Cleghorn, who picked up the airboat at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge near Pingree.

Hastings periodically spoke by mobile phone with one of the anglers, letting him know they were on the way, and that the anglers shouldn’t move from their location.

The law enforcement officers arrived at the lake about 9 p.m., and the anglers were safely back on shore about 9:30 p.m.


Game Wardens Conduct ANS Compliance Checkpoints

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s law enforcement division recently conducted check stations on boats coming into the state in an effort to ensure compliance with aquatic nuisance species laws and regulations.

Robert Timian, enforcement chief, said check stations on Interstate 94 and U.S. Highway 2 revealed the majority of hunters and anglers are keeping their equipment free of unwanted species.

“Our main focus was directed toward duck hunters trailering boats,” Timian said. “All total, there were less than a handful of individuals with minor violations.”

Wardens not only examined boats, but thoroughly inspected hunting and fishing gear.

“It was a good educational reminder for anyone trailering boats that not only do you have to abide by ANS rules during peak fishing and boating months, but later in the year as well,” Timian said.

Find Your Deer License

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds deer hunters to find their license and check it for accuracy.

Every year the Game and Fish Department’s licensing section receives last-minute inquiries from hunters who can’t find their license. When that happens, it’s difficult to try to get a replacement license in time for the season opener.

Another reason to check the license now is to make sure the unit and species is what was intended.

Deer hunters in need of a replacement license can print out a duplicate (replacement) license application from the Game and Fish website,, or can call 701-328-6300 to have an application mailed or faxed.

Hunters who obtain a duplicate license at a Game and Fish district office must pay by either a check or money order (available at most convenience stores). Cash or credit cards are not accepted.

The form must be completely filled out and notarized, and sent back in to the department with a fee. 

2014 Pheasant Season Summarized

The number of pheasants taken last year in North Dakota was up from 2013, according to statistics compiled by the State Game and Fish Department.

Last year, more than 78,000 hunters (up 2 percent) harvested 587,000 roosters (up 31 percent). In 2013, 76,000 hunters took 447,000 roosters.

“The last two years of fairly mild winters and good weather during nesting season has bumped up recruitment and the number of birds in the fall has noticeably improved,” said Stan Kohn, Game and Fish upland game management supervisor. “That could mean a better harvest this fall over last year as well.”

Birds bagged per hunter increased from 5.8 to 7.5, and each hunter spent an average of 4.3 days afield.

Counties with the highest percentage of pheasants taken by resident hunters in 2014 were Hettinger, 11.2; Morton, 7.5; McLean, 7.5; Burleigh, 6.3; and Divide, 4.9.

Top counties for nonresident hunters were Hettinger, 25.7 percent; Bowman, 11; Emmons, 6.3; Divide, 5.6; and Adams, 3.9.

Annual pheasant season statistics are determined by a mail survey of resident and nonresident hunters.

Estenson Boat Landing to Close Oct. 5

The Estenson Boat Landing on Devils Lake will close Monday, Oct. 5 for approximately 3-4 weeks for ramp reconstruction.

Although this work may cause a temporary inconvenience for anglers, the new ramp will be a major improvement over the existing facilities.

The boat landing is located 15 miles south of Devils Lake on N.D. Highway 20.

Boaters and anglers can check for current ramp conditions on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website,, and by contacting the local managing entity that is listed.


Remaining Fall Turkey Licenses Available Sept. 30

The 2015 fall wild turkey lottery has been held and 990 licenses remain in eight units. Unsuccessful applicants who applied online will have a refund issued directly to their credit card.

Beginning Sept. 30, all remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters are allowed a maximum of 15 licenses for the fall season.

Resident and nonresident hunters will be able to apply online, or print out an application to mail, at the Game and Fish Department website, Paper applications will also be available at license vendors.

The fall turkey season runs from Oct. 10 – Jan. 3, 2016.

Licenses remain for the following units: Unit 03, Benson and Ramsey counties and a portion of Pierce County, 16 licenses; Unit 13, Dunn County, 202; Unit 19, Grant County, Sioux County, and parts of Morton County, 10; Unit 25, McHenry County and portions of Pierce and Ward counties, 377; Unit 30, a portion of Morton County, 154; Unit 31, Mountrail County, 24; Unit 45, Stark County, 103; and Unit 51, Burke County and portions of Renville, Bottineau and Ward counties, 104.

Wetland Conditions Good for Duck Hunting

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates good but declining wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout much of the state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird supervisor, said once again the northwest region has the highest number of wetlands holding water, but virtually all areas of the state are drier than last year, with the poorest conditions and most extreme declines in the southern half of the state.

“The general trend is that wetland conditions are best in the northwest and north central, but begin to decline moving south and east across the state,” Szymanski said. “The southeast region had conditions that were comparable to lows observed in 2012.”

Szymanski said this year’s moisture conditions have been somewhat of a roller coaster – fairly dry through April, extremely wet in May and June, and then dry again beginning in July.

“Drying conditions should provide good loafing areas for waterfowl and cranes along wetlands, but in some cases, this can make hunting difficult if there is wide mud margin between emergent vegetation and the water,” Szymanski added. “Hunters should be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots, and areas like tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard.”

The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is predicated on weather conditions and patterns. Szymanski said strong reproduction for ducks in breeding areas both in and outside of North Dakota makes for good fall hunting potential.

“Hunters should always scout because of ever changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl,” Szymanski said.

The wetland survey is conducted in mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season, to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect.


Boat Ramps Affected by Low River Flows

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reducing releases from the Garrison Dam, resulting in a lower river stage on the Missouri River from the dam down to the headwaters of Lake Oahe.

Access from boat ramps along the river, especially in the Bismarck/Mandan area, will become restricted or unusable for the remainder of the open water season. Ramps expected to be affected include Steckel Landing (Wilton), Hoge Island, Kneifel Landing, Grant Marsh Bridge and Fox Island.

Low river flows can cause boat access issues, and problems this year are compounded by the bed degradation that occurred in the river bottom during the 2011 flood. The two foot degradation in the Bismarck/Mandan area means with identical releases and flows, there are now two feet less of water on the bottom of each ramp than prior to the flood.

Boaters and anglers can check for current ramp conditions on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website,, and by contacting the local managing entity that is listed.


Brood Numbers Indicate Sharptails Similar, Huns Up

Data recently tallied from July and August roadside counts indicate North Dakota’s sharp-tailed grouse population is similar to last year, while Hungarian partridge are up.

Brood results show sharp-tailed grouse numbers down 4 percent statewide from last year, with the number of broods observed up 6 percent. The average brood size is down 15 percent.

The statewide Hungarian partridge population is up 22 percent from last year, and the number of broods observed is up 34 percent. The average brood size is down 14 percent.

Aaron Robinson, upland game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Dickinson, said sharp-tailed grouse hunters should have plenty of opportunities to harvest birds, while partridge are trying to rebound from the past few years of record low numbers.

“There will be some localized pockets of poor hunting opportunities, but in general hunting for sharptails will be good,” Robinson said. “And even though partridge are up dramatically over the past few years, harvesting a bird will still be a bonus while out pursuing other game birds.”

The season for sharp-tailed grouse, ruffed grouse and Hungarian partridge opens Sept. 12. Hunters should refer to the North Dakota 2015-16 Small Game Hunting Guide for further season information and regulations.

Fire Danger Index Reminder for Fall Outdoor Activity

As hunting seasons and other fall outdoor activities get underway, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters, anglers and other enthusiasts to be aware of the daily fire danger index.

Recent high daytime temperatures combined with typical dry late-summer ground conditions, could mean an elevated fire danger index that influences outdoor activities over the Labor Day weekend and continuing throughout the fall.

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.

In addition, county governments 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.

Hunters should consider bringing along a shovel, fire extinguisher, extra water and heavy fabric for putting out accidental fires. However, individuals who are not trained firefighters should not attempt to fight a fire that is out of control. Instead, contact the nearest fire department immediately.

The fire danger index can change daily depending on temperature, wind and precipitation forecasts. If the index reaches the extreme category, open burning is prohibited; off-road travel with a motorized vehicle is prohibited, except for people engaged in a trade, business or occupation where it is required; and smoking is restricted to inside of vehicles, places of habitation and areas cleared to mineral soil.

Information on current fire danger indexes is available through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website,; or county sheriff offices.

Hunters should contact the respective county sheriff’s department or emergency management offices to find out about fire-danger-related restrictions in a particular county.

Swan Hunt Lottery Held, Licenses Remain

North Dakota’s swan lottery has been held and more than 100 licenses remain. Only hunters who do not have a swan license for the 2015 season can apply, as regulations limit hunters to one license per year.

Beginning Sept. 9, all remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Resident and nonresident hunters will be able to apply online, or print out an application to mail, at the State Game and Fish Department website, Hunters may also request an application by calling the department’s Bismarck office at 701- 328-6300. The license fee is $10 for residents and $30 for nonresidents.

The statewide tundra swan hunting season is Oct. 3 – Jan. 3, 2016.  

Administrative Rules Hearings Set for Sept. 15

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s public hearing to address proposed amendments relating to aquatic nuisance species, originally set for Sept. 9, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 1:15 p.m., at the agency’s main office in Bismarck.

In addition, a public hearing to implement statutes for an elk license raffle for Annie’s House at Bottineau Winter Park, enacted by the most recent North Dakota Legislative Assembly, is also scheduled for the same time and place.

The purpose and explanation of the proposed rule changes are as follows:

Chapter 30-03-06-05 – Water prohibited. In addition to existing statewide aquatic nuisance species rules, anglers may no longer transport live bait in water away from the Red River. That means all water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. All boats and other watercraft must have their plugs pulled when exiting the Red River. In addition, all boats entering North Dakota must have their plugs pulled.

Chapter 30-02-09 – Elk license raffle.  An amendment to create a new chapter for an elk license raffle for Annie’s House at Bottineau Winter Park. This chapter is being created per legislative Senate bill number 2017, section 3, enacted by the sixty-fourth Legislative Assembly. Section 3 of Senate bill number 2017 is effective through June 30, 2017, and after that date is ineffective.

The proposed rules may be reviewed at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095, or on the Department’s website at A copy of the proposed rules may be requested in writing, or by calling 701- 328-6305, or emailing Written or oral comments on the proposed rules must be received by Sept. 25, 2015 for consideration.

Anyone who attends the public hearing and needs special facilities or assistance relating to a disability should contact the Game and Fish Department at least seven days before the public hearing.

Select the documents below for more detailed information on proposed changes:

·         Emergency ANS Rules on Red River

·         Elk License Raffle for Annie’s House


Emergency Aquatic Nuisance Species Rules in Place on Red River

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is implementing two new emergency rules designed to prevent the spread of zebra mussels outside the Red River.

The rules are effective immediately and may affect anglers, boaters and other users of Red River water, according to Fred Ryckman, department aquatic nuisance species coordinator. The rules address recent discoveries of young zebra mussels, an aquatic nuisance species, throughout the length of the Red River between Minnesota and North Dakota. An adult zebra mussel was also discovered at the Fargo water treatment plant.

The emergency rules are as follows:

1.    Anglers may no longer transport live bait in water away from the Red River. That means all water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal. In the rest of the state, anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of 5 gallons or less in volume.

2.    All boats and other watercraft must have their plugs pulled when exiting the river, and plugs must remain pulled when the watercraft leaves the access area. In addition, all boats entering North Dakota must have their plugs pulled. This rule would also apply on any other waters where Class I ANS, including zebra mussels, are discovered in the future.

Violators of either of these rules are subject to citation and fines, and Game and Fish will continue to monitor angler and boater activity on the Red to ensure compliance.

“These two new rules will significantly reduce the risk that any Red River water is transported to other lakes or rivers,” Ryckman said. “It is necessary to establish the rules now because there is a lot of fishing activity in the Red this time of year, and zebra mussel veligers or larvae are likely to be present in the river for several weeks yet.”

These new regulations will be posted at all ramps along the North Dakota side of the Red River, and are in addition to other statewide aquatic nuisance species rules that are already in place. These include:

·         water must be drained from watercraft, including from livewells and bilges, prior to leaving a water body;

·         all other fish species may not be held in water and/or transported in bait buckets/containers when away from a water body;

·         no aquatic vegetation, or parts thereof, shall be in or on watercraft, motors, trailers and recreational equipment when out of water;

·         all water must be drained from all watercraft and recreational, commercial, and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, livewells and baitwells, when out of water or upon entering the state.

The official emergency rule language is available on the Game and Fish website at If zebra mussels are discovered in any additional waters, these rules would immediately go into effect for those waters as well.

Emergency changes to administrative rules become effective as soon as they are filed with the state’s legislative council, but must follow the administrative rule-making process, including public hearings, before the rules become permanent.

A public hearing to address the proposed amendments is scheduled for 1:15 p.m., Sept. 15 at the Game and Fish Department’s main office in Bismarck.

Deer Lottery Held, Antlerless Licenses Remain

North Dakota’s deer gun lottery has been held and individual results are available online at the State Game and Fish Department’s website,

More than 1,400 antlerless deer gun licenses remain. Only resident applicants who were unsuccessful in the first lottery can apply for remaining licenses.

The first lottery application process – deer gun, muzzleloader, youth and landowner – had more than 95,000 applicants, and over 51,000 were unsuccessful.

An option for unsuccessful applicants to apply online for remaining licenses will be available Aug. 5. Paper applications for remaining licenses will be mailed to individuals Aug. 10. The deadline for applying is Sept. 2.

Remaining Deer Gun Licenses

(B = Any Antlerless    D = Antlerless Whitetail)




















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