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Buffaloberry Patch

Article By 
Greg Freeman

2012 Deer Bow Statistics

Bow Hunting

North Dakota bowhunters compiled what is likely a record archery deer harvest during the 2012 season.

The Game and Fish Department issued 19,940 resident and 2,336 nonresident bow licenses last year, 245 more than the previous record bow license sales in 2010. Approximately 19,300 of those license buyers actually hunted, taking an estimated 6,856 deer, for an overall hunter success rate of 35.4 percent.

The total harvest included 6,440 whitetails and 416 mule deer. About 71 percent of the whitetail harvest was adult bucks, and 96 percent of the mule deer taken were adult bucks.

“As an agency, we are not surprised by the high number of archery hunters during a season in which deer gun license numbers were down considerably from previous years,” said Randy Kreil, Game and Fish Department wildlife chief. “Based on the high success rate, the archery harvest may become a significant factor in future deer management, particularly if habitat conditions continue to deteriorate and deer populations remain low.”

The 2013 archery deer season started August 30 and runs through January 5, 2014.



Agencies Prohibit Hunting Over Bait

Hunters are reminded that hunting big game over bait is prohibited on all state owned or managed wildlife management areas, all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas, U.S. Forest Service national grasslands, and all North Dakota state school, state park and state forest service lands.

The governor’s proclamation relating to chronic wasting disease also includes a provision that prohibits hunting big game over bait on both public and private land in deer units 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 3C west of the Missouri River.

In addition, any firearms, equipment or accessories used by hunters on Private Land Open To Sportsmen acreage may not be left unattended and must be removed when the hunter leaves the area. This includes, but is not limited to, guns, blinds, stands, baits, scents and decoys. This means a hunter cannot place bait on PLOTS prior to or during the season and leave it there. Any bait would have to be brought to the PLOTS with the hunter the same day and taken out with the hunter the same day he/she leaves.

Hunting over bait is defined as the placement and/or use of baits for attracting big game and other wildlife to a specific location for the purpose of hunting. Bait, in this case, includes grain, seed, mineral, salt, fruit, vegetable nut, hay or any other natural or manufactured food placed by an individual. Bait does not include agricultural practices, gardens, wildlife food plots, agricultural crops, livestock feeds, fruit or vegetables in their natural location such as apples on or under an apple tree, or unharvested food or vegetables in a garden.



Electronic License Reminder

Bowhunters are reminded that this year for the first time, deer bow licenses and accompanying tags are only available through electronic purchase.

Licenses can be purchased either online at the Game and Fish Department website,; by calling (800) 406-6409; or at license vendors in counties that are linked to the Game and Fish Department’s online licensing system.

In counties that are not on the Game and Fish system, deer bow licenses will not be available at the usual license vendors. In addition, hunters who purchase bow licenses online from a personal computer should allow for several days to receive their tag in the mail.

For a current list of county auditors and all their authorized license vendors that are part of the Game and Fish Department electronic licensing system, refer to the Department’s website.



Record Number of Walleye Stocked

Excellent walleye fingerling production from the Garrison Dam (9.7 million) and Valley City (1.3 million) national fish hatcheries resulted in a record 11 million walleye fingerlings stocked into state waters this summer.

Jerry Weigel, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries production and development section leader, said with a record number of walleye waters across the state, there has never been a larger demand for walleye production. “We are fortunate to have the production capability of the two federal hatcheries to help address this demand,” he said.

Altogether, 110 lakes and rivers were stocked in North Dakota, including 4.3 million fingerlings in Lake Sakakawea, 863,000 in Stump Lake, 495,000 in Lake Darling, 329,000 in Lake Ashtabula, 321,000 in Heart Butte Reservoir, 218,000 in Paterson Lake, 205,000 in Bowman-Haley Reservoir and 200,000 in Lake Metigoshe.

“There has never been a better time to fish for walleye,” Weigel added. “Statewide, there are a lot of great opportunities, and a very good chance of success.”



Big Game Transport Rules

Hunters are reminded of requirements for transporting deer, elk and moose carcasses and carcass parts into and within North Dakota as a precaution against the possible spread of chronic wasting disease.

Hunters harvesting a big game animal this fall in North Dakota deer unit 3F2 cannot transport a carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of the unit unless it’s taken directly to a meat processor. The head can be removed from the carcass and transported outside the unit if it is to be submitted to a State Game and Fish Department district office, CWD surveillance drop-off location or a licensed taxidermist.

If the deer is processed in the field to boned meat, and the hunter wants to leave the head in the field, the head must be legally tagged and the hunter must be able to return to or give the exact location of the head if requested for verification. 

In addition, hunting big game over bait is prohibited in deer units 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 3C west of the Missouri River.

Hunters are prohibited from transporting into North Dakota the whole carcass, or certain carcass parts, of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family from areas within states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD in wild populations, or from farmed cervid operations within states and provinces that have had farmed cervids diagnosed with CWD.

Only the following portions of the carcass can be transported:

  • Meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Meat that has been boned out.
  • Hides with no heads attached.
  • Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
  • Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.
  • Finished taxidermy heads.

Hunters should refer to the 2013-14 CWD proclamation on the Game and Fish Department’s website,, for game management units, equivalent wildlife management units, or counties in other states that have had free-ranging deer, moose or elk diagnosed with CWD. Importation of harvested elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose or other cervids from listed areas are restricted.



Fall Turkey Licenses

The fall turkey lottery is scheduled for mid-September. Any remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters are allowed a maximum of 15 licenses for the fall season.

Refer to the Game and Fish website in late September for more information on the application process for remaining licenses, including an update of licenses available.



PLOTS Photo Contest

A photo contest will decide the cover of the 2014 Private Land Open To Sportsmen Guide.


From end-of-day hunting shots, to scenic action or landscape shots, the Game and Fish Department wants to feature hunter photos on the 2014 PLOTS cover and elsewhere that showcase North Dakota’s strong hunting heritage.

The Department’s free PLOTS Guide, which highlights walk-in hunting areas across the state, was first published in 1999.

The only real contest guideline is that photos must include a PLOTS sign, front-facing or silhouette.

The contest deadline is April 30, 2014. Log on to the Game and Fish Department’s website,, to learn more about contest prizes, rules and entry information.



HIP for Migratory Bird Hunters

 All migratory game bird hunters, regardless of age, are reminded that Harvest Information Program registration is required starting September 1.

HIP certification is required for hunting ducks, geese, swans, mergansers, coots, cranes, snipe, doves or woodcock. Mike Johnson, Game and Fish Department game management section leader, said HIP registration provides the Department with a database of names and addresses of migratory bird hunters, and a sample of these hunters will receive a questionnaire regarding hunting activity and number of birds harvested.

“This information allows us to make sound decisions concerning hunting seasons, bag limits and population management,” Johnson said. “Hunter compliance is essential in order to obtain reliable estimates of the annual harvest of all migratory game bird species.”

Hunters who purchase a license through the Department’s electronic licensing system ( or instant licensing telephone number at (800) 406-6409 can easily get HIP certified.

Otherwise, hunters can access the Game and Fish website, or call (888) 634-4798 and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate.

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 only once per year. However, hunters must HIP register in each state for which they are licensed before hunting migratory game birds.



Sandhill Crane Permits

Bow Hunting

Hunting permits for North Dakota’s 2013 sandhill crane season, opening September 14, are available from the Game and Fish Department.

As in past years, prospective hunters need a crane permit, regardless of age. The permit cost $5 and is available through the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office.


Hunters can purchase their crane permit online on the Department’s website, Another option is to send the permit fee, along with personal information, including height, weight, social security number, date of birth, color of hair and eyes, and hunter education number and state issued, to Crane Permit, NDGF, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501.



Hunting Signs Available

Ask Before You Enter Sign

“Ask Before You Enter” and “Walking Hunters Welcome” signs are available to North Dakota landowners who encourage hunting on their land.

Landowners can order quantities of four, eight or 12. The signs are free and sponsored by the North Dakota Landowner-Sportsman Council.

To order, contact the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at (701) 328-6300, or email Signs can also be ordered or printed online at the Department’s website,



North Dakota Record Fishing Licenses Sales


Years of rising water, a record number of fishing lakes and aggressive fish management in North Dakota have helped produce a record number of anglers.

Greg Power, Game and Fish Department fisheries chief, said virtually every license category established a record high in 2012-13, or at the least had a substantial increase. “Even more impressive, this was spread throughout the state, and not just in the rapidly growing counties of western North Dakota,” he said.

Game and Fish Department statistics revealed more than 218,000 fishing licenses were sold last year, 20 percent higher than the previous record set in 1982. A total of 159,500 resident fishing licenses were sold last year, also breaking the record set 30 years ago. In addition, nearly 59,000 nonresident fishing licenses were purchased last year, easily surpassing the previous high set two years ago.


“North Dakota remains near the top in the country in terms of per capita residents who fish,” Power said.

In terms of actual individuals participating in fishing, the past year was again record-setting with more than 200,000 active anglers and about 2 million days of fishing. Both open water and ice fishing activity experienced substantial increases. Lake Sakakawea, Devils Lake and Lake Oahe/Missouri River remained the top three fisheries in the state.


Photo Contest Deadline


The deadline for submitting photos to the Game and Fish Department’s Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest is September 30.

Contest entries are limited to digital files submitted on disk or via email. Photo disks should be sent to Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest, c/o Patrick T. Isakson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Send emailed digital photos to

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.

Full contest rules were published in the July 2013 issue of this magazine. They are also available at



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