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Public Use Regulations for Private Land Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) Lands

From its inception over a decade ago, the goal of the PLOTS program was to provide the public with walk-in access for hunting on private land. The Department, through agreement, is the lessee for hunting access on lands enrolled in the PLOTS program. Activities such as horseback riding, camping, baiting, driving ATVs or snowmobiles, dog training, and many others were not regulated by the PLOTS program agreement.

In recent years, the Department has received numerous comments and concerns from landowners enrolled in the program and hunters who utilize these areas about the increase in non-hunting related activities occurring on PLOTS tracts. We have also received comments from landowners and hunters during our PLOTS survey suggesting the Department publish “clear regulations and rules” for the PLOTS program. Because of the increased interest and usage of PLOTS, increased expectations by hunters, and increased concerns from private landowners, we felt it was time to establish specific public use regulations to govern public use on PLOTS.

By establishing these regulations, the Department can better fulfill its responsibility to the private landowners and help protect the property they’ve enrolled in the program. In addition to protecting the property enrolled in the program, the regulations will provide clarity to the hunting public. Law enforcement officers will be in a better position to enforce activities on PLOTS property.

These regulations became effective October 1, 2010.

ARTICLE 30-04
FISH AND WILDLIFE
MANAGEMENT

30-04-08-01. Public access and use. All Private Land Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) property is open only for public walk-in access for the purpose of hunting within legal hunting seasons, or as signed. All other activities require written permission from the property owner. As used in this section PLOTS is private land enrolled by the Department for purposes of hunting as established under North Dakota Century Code chapter 20.1-02-27. Walk-in access for purposes of this section is defined as an individual travelling by foot with any legal weapon, equipment, accessories, and provisions for the purposes of hunting. Hunting weapons, equipment, accessories, or provisions may not be left unattended on PLOTS without written permission of the property owner. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a noncriminal offense and shall pay a one hundred dollar fee.

Summary

The public use regulations state that any activity, other than walk-in hunting, will not be allowed on PLOTS without written permission from the landowner. If any firearms or bows, equipment, accessories or provisions are used on PLOTS by hunters, they may not be left unattended and must be taken with when they leave the area. These regulations will be enforced year round but will not restrict the landowner from participating in these activities on their own property enrolled in PLOTS. These regulations will not restrict the landowner, tenant, family, hired hand, or other authorized operators from conducting normal farming or ranching activities as authorized in the PLOTS contract on their own property enrolled in PLOTS. The public use regulations are intended to protect property enrolled in PLOTS from potentially damaging activities.

FAQs

Why is a stubble field enrolled in PLOTS?

Lower quality habitat, such as stubble fields, is often included in a PLOTS agreement as part of a larger block of land including permanent, high-quality habitat. The landowner received little to no payment for these low quality acres. In other cases, stubble fields may be enrolled specifically for waterfowl hunting opportunities.

The PLOTS tract has cattle on it, can I still hunt it?

Yes. The landowner has agreed to allow access to these areas as part of the PLOTS agreement. It is recommended that hunters use good judgment and common sense when hunting areas where livestock is present. Hunt away from the livestock, limit the amount of disturbance to the animals and certainly do not shoot toward the direction of the animals. In some cases, it may be best to come back to the area another time as the landowner may have moved the cattle to another area, or removed them completely.

State law prohibits hunting within 440 yards of an occupied dwelling without landowner permission but the PLOTS signs are located closer to a dwelling than this? Can I hunt on PLOTS if there is an occupied dwelling within 440 yards?

North Dakota statute prohibits hunting within 440 yards of an occupied dwelling, with exceptions. The first is the “landowner exception,” which allows a person to hunt on his or her own land even if doing so is within 440 yards of another’s occupied dwelling. The second exception is the “consent exception,” which allows hunting if the “occupier” consents to hunting within 440 yards of his or her building.

When a landowner enrolls land into a PLOTS agreement, permission has been granted to the public to hunt on the land. There is also a “public lands” exception to this law. Private lands enrolled in a public access program, such as PLOTS, fall into this category since the landowner has signed an agreement granting the public permission to hunt on his land.

A hunter on public land, including PLOTS, is not required to obtain the consent of the person occupying a building located within 440 yards of the hunter. This exception applies to state wildlife management areas or other public lands as well.

For added safety measures, fluorescent orange “No Shooting Toward Building Signs” are placed on these PLOTS tracts to notify hunters there is a building or dwelling nearby.

Can I drive on PLOTS to retrieve game or to set out waterfowl decoys?

No. PLOTS land is walking access only and may not be driven on without landowner permission, even to retrieve game. Exception: Some PLOTS lands have been enrolled exclusively for waterfowl hunting. These PLOTS lands are identified with a special green “Attention Waterfowl Hunters” sign and also identified in the PLOTS guide as the normal PLOTS yellow, with a blue outline. Special arrangements were made with the landowner as part of the PLOTS agreement to allow driving access on the cropland only to allow hunters to set out decoys.

Can I target shoot on PLOTS?

No. PLOTS land is leased from a landowner for walk-in hunting access only. All other activities require landowner permission.

Can I ride horse or ATVs on PLOTS?

No. PLOTS land is leased from a landowner for walk-in hunting access only. All other activities require landowner permission.

Do I need permission to hunt on PLOTS?

No. PLOTS land is open for walk-in hunting access for any legal game during any legal season. Permission to hunt has been granted to the public through an agreement between the landowner and the Department.

The PLOTS tract has standing crops on it. Can I hunt standing crops on PLOTS?

North Dakota statute prohibits hunting in unharvested cereal and oilseed crops, including sprouted winter wheat, alfalfa, clover and other grasses grown for seed, without the owner’s consent.

When a landowner enrolls land into a PLOTS agreement, permission has been granted to the public to hunt on the land; therefore, it is legal to hunt standing crops on PLOTS unless the PLOTS tract has a special sign stating “No Hunting in Unharvested Crops.” In these cases, arrangements were made with the landowner to restrict access to the standing crops. After the crops have been harvested, these fields may be legally hunted.

Is dog training allowed on PLOTS?

No. PLOTS land is leased from a landowner for walk-in hunting access only. All other activities require landowner permission.

Are tree stands or ground blinds allowed on PLOTS?

Hunting firearms or archery equipment, or other equipment, accessories, or provisions may not be left unattended on PLOTS without written permission of the property owner. Therefore, a tree stand or blind can be used on PLOTS but must be taken with the hunter when they leave unless permission has been granted by the landowner allowing the tree stand or blind to remain on the property.

Is hunting over bait allowed on PLOTS?

Hunting firearms or archery equipment, or other equipment, accessories, or provisions may not be left unattended on PLOTS without written permission of the property owner. Therefore, bait can be used on PLOTS but must be taken with the hunter when they leave unless permission has been granted by the landowner allowing the bait to remain on the property.

Is predator calling allowed on PLOTS?

Yes. Predator calling is an acceptable form of hunting. However, please remember that driving on PLOTS requires landowner permission.

When are PLOTS lands open?

Administrative rules (30-04-08-01-Public access and use) states the following: All Private Land Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) property is open only for public walk-in access for the purpose of hunting within legal hunting seasons, or as signed. NOTE: Hunters may occasionally encounter PLOTS signs that indicate the land is open only from Sept. 1 – April 1. These are older signs that were placed on the property prior to current Administrative Rules going into effect. Disregard the exclusive Sept. 1 – April 1 dates. Follow existing hunting regulations (30-04-08-01-Public access and use), accessing PLOTS property during legal hunting seasons, or as signed . The Department continues to phase out these older signs and they will all eventually be replaced with signs that read “Open To Hunting”.

Are nonresident hunters allowed to use PLOTS?

Yes, however, special restrictions apply. In accordance with NDCC 20.1-08- 04.9, nonresidents are prohibited from hunting for the first seven days of the pheasant season on land owned by the Game and Fish Department, or private land enrolled by the Department for the purposes of hunting (PLOTS), or on land for which the department pays in lieu of tax payments.

Is trapping allowed on PLOTS?

All Private Land Open To Sportsmen property is open only for public walk-in access for the purpose of hunting within legal hunting seasons, or as signed.

State law requires trappers to obtain written permission from landowners or operators before placing or setting any traps or cable devices on private land, including PLOTS lands. The owner or operator may determine the length of time permission is granted.

Is nontoxic shot required on PLOTS?

The possession or use of shot other than federally approved nontoxic shot is prohibited while hunting ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, tundra swans, mergansers, snipe and coot statewide. For a list of approved nontoxic shot, visit http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/CurrentBirdIssues/nontoxic.htm.

Nontoxic shot is required for all hunting on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands, including federal refuges and waterfowl production areas. This regulation applies to all hunters using shotguns, except while hunting turkeys and big game. These shot requirements are in addition to current statewide nontoxic shot requirements for migratory birds as listed above.

Nontoxic shot is not required to hunt upland game, turkeys or big game on PLOTS, however it is required while hunting ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, tundra swans, mergansers, snipe and coot.

Can I park on oil pads when hunting a PLOTS tract?

No. Most oil pads are either owned or leased by an energy company and parking a vehicle on them is considered trespassing. Many oil pads are monitored by security systems so violations or charges can be pursued by energy companies.

Can I drive on an oil field road on a PLOTS tract if it’s not located on a section line?

No. Most oil field roads are either owned or leased by an energy company and driving on them is considered trespassing.

I’ve noticed an increase of oil wells on PLOTS. Is it safe to hunt around oil wells?

Extreme caution should be used when near any oil well. Always attempt to stay upwind of any oil well due to the potential of hydrogen sulfide gas being present. Keep a safe distance and hunt away from the well. Do not shoot in the direction of a well or any other infrastructure.


 

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