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Buffaloberry Patch

Article By 
Greg Freeman

Deer Test Positive for CWD

Two bucks taken from unit 3F2 during the 2013 deer gun season tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Both adult bucks, a mule deer and whitetail, were shot in western Grant County. Their heads were submitted for testing as part of the hunter-harvested surveillance program. Testing was performed at Michigan State University.

In addition, results from the remaining 3F2 samples, as well as all samples from the eastern third of the state, should be known soon.

In total, five deer have tested positive for CWD since 2009, and all were from the same general area within unit 3F2 in southwestern North Dakota.


The hunter-harvested surveillance program annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state. In addition to unit 3F2, samples during the 2013 deer gun season were collected from units in the eastern third of the state.

CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.



Look for New Boat Registrations

Boat owners are reminded that 2014 is the first year of a new three-year registration period, and with it comes an increase in license fees passed during the 2013 legislative session.

New this year, the price to register motorboats under 16 feet in length, and all canoes, increases from $12 to $18, motorboats from 16 feet to less than 20 feet in length from $24 to $36, and motorboats at least 20 feet in length from $33 to $45. As part of the legislation, many other hunting and fishing license fees will increase April 1.

The new boat registration cycle began January 1 and runs through December 31, 2016.

Boat registrations can be renewed online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's website,, by clicking the online services link, and "watercraft registration and renewals" under the watercraft heading.

Also, anyone buying a new or used watercraft can register online and generate a 10-day temporary permit that is valid until the registration is processed.

Regulations require the boat number to be in contrasting color to the hull in plain vertical block letters at least 3 inches in height, excluding any border, trim, outlining or shading, and must be maintained in a legible condition so the number is clearly visible in daylight hours. The number must read from left to right, and groups of numbers and letters must be separated by a space or hyphen equivalent in width to the letter "M."

In addition, a validation sticker issued by the Game and Fish Department must be displayed on the boat within 6 inches of the number toward the rear of the boat. No other numbers should be displayed in this area.

Boat owners who do not receive a renewal notice by February 1 should contact the Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6335, or email Many renewals are likely to be returned because some owners who moved within the last three years did not notify the Department with their new address.



Salmon Spawn Goal Reached

Fisheries crews completed their annual salmon spawning operation on Lake Sakakawea after collecting 1.9 million eggs, easily surpassing their goal of 900,000. Russell Kinzler, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System biologist, said two thirds of the eggs came from Lake Sakakawea and the remainder from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam. The average size of Lake Sakakawea females was about 5.7 pounds, about 1 pound smaller than 2012. The Missouri River females, which are typically larger than the lake fish, averaged 7.5 pounds.

"The 2013 salmon spawning run was a success with good numbers of fish available throughout the run," Kinzler said. "We were able to exceed our own egg collection goals early, which enabled us to provide assistance to South Dakota and Montana in meeting their egg needs for 2013." Plans for 2014 are to stock Lake Sakakawea with 200,000 salmon, with none scheduled for the river below Garrison Dam, Kinzler said.



New North Dakota Bowhunter Education Course

A new online bowhunter education course is designed to help North Dakota bowhunters improve their skills and stay safe in the woods.

Bowhunter ed, which is an official course of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, teaches safe in-the-field practices, bow shooting basics, different methods of bowhunting, and shot placement and recovery techniques. By completing the bowhunter ed course, students will receive their archery field training voucher to gain entrance to the final in-person component of the North Dakota bowhunter education course.

"The course is North Dakota's official online bowhunter education course. The training is a great opportunity for new and seasoned bowhunters to learn safe practices and study information that will truly help them in the field," said John Mazur, North Dakota Game and Fish Department hunter education coordinator.

The bowhunter ed course is mobile friendly so students can take the course on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or other device. Bowhunter ed features easy-to-understand information, instructional videos, plus detailed illustrations and animations to help students be successful, better prepared bowhunters. To take the North Dakota-approved bowhunter education course, visit

The course allows students to study for free, paying only when they pass the course. Upon payment, students will receive and can print out their archery field training voucher, which can be used to sign up for the in-person component. Only after the archery field training is completed will the student receive his or her archery certification card.


While bowhunter education isn't mandatory in North Dakota, it may be required for special access hunting such as urban hunts or if hunters wish to go bowhunting in states or provinces where certification is mandatory:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Brunswick
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Nova Scotia
  • Quebec
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont



Tentative 2014 Season Opening Dates

To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2014, 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 2014 include:

Spring Crow March 8 Youth Waterfowl September 20
Spring Turkey April 12 Early Resident Waterfowl September 27
Fall Crow August 9 Regular Waterfowl, Youth Pheasant October 4
Deer Bow, Mountain Lion August 29 Pheasant, Fall Turkey October 11
Dove September 1 Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping October 25
Sharptail, Hun, Ruffed Grouse, Squirrel September 13 Deer Gun November 7
Youth Deer September 19 Deer Muzzleloader November 28


Nonresident Any-Deer Bow License

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will have 172 any-deer bow licenses available to nonresidents in 2014.

The deadline for applying is March 1. A lottery will be held if more applications are received than licenses available. Any licenses remaining after March 1 will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants can apply together as a party. A separate check is required for each application.

The nonresident any-deer bow application is available at the Game and Fish website, The application must be printed and sent in to the Department.

The number of nonresident any-deer bow licenses available is 15 percent of the previous year's mule deer gun license allocation. The Game and Fish Department issued 1,150 antlered mule deer licenses in the 2013 deer gun lottery.



Hunter Education Classes in 2014

Individuals interested in taking a hunter education class in 2014 should know that most courses are offered early in the calendar year.

To register for a hunter education course, students need to sign up online at the Game and Fish Department's website, Many classes will be added over the next several weeks, and the rest will be added throughout the year as they are finalized.

To register, click on the online services tab, and "online course enrollment" under the hunter education heading. Classes are listed by city, and can also be sorted by start date. To register for a class, click on "enroll" next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.

Those who do not have access to the Internet and want to sign up for a class can call the hunter education program in Bismarck at 701-328-6615.

Individuals interested in receiving a notice by email when each hunter education class is added can click on the "subscribe to news, email and text alerts" link found below the news section on the Department's home page. Check the box labeled "hunter education class notification" under the education program updates.

State law requires anyone born after December 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old, and children can take the class at age 11.



Calendar Correction

Credit was not given to the correct photographer in the 2014 North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar. The November photograph of a mule deer buck was taken by Kelly Krabbenhoft of West Fargo.



Staff Notes/Awards

Kreft Named Game and Fish Employee of the Year

Bruce Kreft, conservation biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, received the agency's Director's award for professional excellence during the Department's annual winter meeting.

Terry Steinwand, Game and Fish director, said Kreft is the consummate professional and always represents the Department with honor and dignity. "Bruce doesn't require direction or fanfare, and brings a great attitude to work every day," he said.

Kreft was mentioned for his involvement with the Red River diversion project, Minot flood control, Missouri River dredging and stabilization, wetland drainage, wildlife crossings and water withdrawals from lakes and reservoirs. "Preserving or mitigating fish and wildlife habitat while working on these projects is daunting, but Bruce attacks them with passion," Steinwand said.


Courtney Sprenger, North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden stationed in Elgin, is the state's 2013 Wildlife Officer of the Year.

Sprenger was honored in December by the Shikar-Safari Club International, a private conservation organization that annually recognizes outstanding wildlife officers in each state.

In a nomination letter sent to Shikar-Safari, chief warden Robert Timian said Sprenger's district contains a variety of wildlife and recreational areas, which presents many challenges.

"Warden Sprenger has taken a great interest in boating safety and the Missouri River Task Force, spending countless hours ensuring the safety of the boaters on the river and in her district," he said. "She has a great interest in hunter and trapper education, is well respected by the public she serves, and her dedication and professionalism ensures the Department's goal of protecting the future of the outdoor resources of North Dakota."


Long-Term Employees

Long-term employees were recognized for their service to the state of North Dakota at the Department's annual staff meeting in December.

  • 35 years – Tim Larson, district warden, Turtle Lake; Fred Ryckman, fisheries supervisor, Riverdale.
  • 30 years – Randy Knain, district warden, Rugby; Greg Link, conservation and communications division chief, Bismarck; Scott Peterson, wildlife resource management section leader, Lonetree; Tim Phalen, district warden, Wyndmere.
  • 25 years – Randy Kreil, wildlife division chief, Bismarck; Katherine Mernitz, licensing assistant, Bismarck; Gail Mosset, licensing assistant, Bismarck.
  • 20 years – Dawn Jochim, information specialist, Bismarck; Phillip Miller, fisheries technician, Devils Lake; Diana Raugust, administrative assistant, Lonetree; Shane Shefstad, fisheries technician, Williston; Ken Skuza, district warden, Riverdale.

Game and Fish Employees Recognized

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand honored a number of employees with performance-based awards in December.

Gene Van Eeckhout, Jamestown, and Brian Prince, Devils Lake, received the Special Projects award, given to individuals who implemented a successful new project. Van Eeckhout, fisheries supervisor, was recognized for his 38-year effort at Spiritwood Lake, including assessing grass carp and zander introductions, keeping common carp out, and water quality projects. "There isn't just one project on Spiritwood Lake that has received Gene's attention, but rather he's spent a career working on a multitude of fish management issues," Steinwand said. Prince, wildlife resource management supervisor, was recognized for his work in enhancing public land opportunities in the northeast. "In the last 10 years, this district has added 16 new wildlife management areas and expanded eight existing WMAs," Steinwand said. "The amount of additions has been above expectations, and this is a direct result of Brian's efforts."


Melissa Long, accountant in Bismarck, received the Solid Foundation award, presented to an employee who demonstrates exemplary work in their field. Long was recognized for her dedication to her job. "Melissa is dependable, a quick learner and dedicated to getting the job done," Steinwand said. "Whenever something is asked of her, we can count on it being right."


Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator, Bismarck, received the Public Outreach award, presented to an employee for showing significant effort, ability or accomplishment in interacting with the public while promoting the Department's programs. Boldt was recognized for her efforts in developing and coordinating the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program. "This program wouldn't be possible without the work and guidance of Nancy," Steinwand said. "She's reached thousands of women in North Dakota, and they've been able to experience outdoor and hunting or fishing activities in an environment where instructors provide skills to women who may have otherwise not been afforded this opportunity."


Slominski New Fisheries Biologist

Aaron Slominski has filled the fisheries biologist position in Williston. He has been a Game and Fish employee at the Riverdale district office since 2007. Slominski has a bachelor's of science degree from the University of North Dakota.


Binnall New Williston Warden

Hatton native Merrill Binnall has been named a district warden in Glen Ullin. Binnall has an undergraduate degree in criminal justice from North Dakota State University.


Snyder Fills Warden Post

Keenan Snyder has been hired as a district game warden in Watford City. Snyder, a Colorado native, has a wildlife biology degree from Colorado State University.


Robinson Earns Scholarship

Aaron Robinson was awarded the Donald H. Rusch Memorial Game Bird Research Scholarship from The Wildlife Society during its annual conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Robinson, Game and Fish Department upland game biologist in Dickinson, has a bachelor's of science degree in biology and a master's in wildlife conservation from Brigham Young University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in wildlife conservation. He began his career working with greater sage grouse and chukar partridge and is currently studying the effects of disturbance and fragmentation associated with energy development on sharp-tailed grouse ecology in North Dakota.