While many of the state’s western big game populations remain at low population levels, bighorn sheep numbers are strong, according to Brett Wiedmann, big game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Dickinson.
A July-August survey in western North Dakota showed a minimum 299 bighorn sheep, a slight increase from last year and just 17 below 2008’s record summer survey. “Our bighorn sheep population remained stable following three epic winters, so we’re pleased to see an increase subsequent to last winter’s mild conditions,” Wiedmann said.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s May and July waterfowl surveys indicate hunters can expect another large fall flight. Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 22 for ducks, coots, mergansers and geese. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Sept. 29.
Antlerless Deer Gun Licenses Available Sept. 19
Contact: Randy Meissner, licensing supervisor, (701) 328-6300
More than 2,000 licenses for antlerless deer are still available after the North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently completed its second lottery drawing.
These remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Sept. 19. These licenses are only available to individuals who have not already received a lottery or landowner license, and are valid only during the regular deer gun season, Nov. 9-25.
Daily Fire Danger Index link … http://www.crh.noaa.gov/bis/?n=fireweather
The North Dakota Fire Danger Index provides an indication of rural fire potential for grasslands, including its ability to spread. The index contains five ratings: Low, Medium, High, Very High, and Extreme.
Friday, Sept. 14 at noon signals the start of a nine-and-a-half day deer hunting season for youth ages 12-15.
Licensed youth ages 12 and 13 are allowed to hunt statewide, but only for antlerless white-tailed deer. Deer hunters age 14 or 15 with a “youth season” license can hunt statewide for any deer, except antlerless mule deer in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F. In addition, a special license is required to hunt antlered mule deer in those same units.
North Dakota’s sandhill crane season opens Sept. 15. Hunters are urged to use caution and identify birds to prevent shooting at whooping cranes as they begin their fall migration.
The sandhill crane season is open through Nov. 11 in unit 1 (west of U.S. Highway 281), and through Oct. 21 in unit 2 (east of U.S. Highway 281). Limits are three daily and six in possession in unit 1, and two daily and four in possession in unit 2. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Nov. 3. Beginning Nov. 4, shooting hours are extended until 2 p.m. each day.
North Dakota’s two-day youth waterfowl season is Sept. 15-16. Legally licensed resident and nonresident youth waterfowl hunters age 15 and younger can hunt ducks, geese, coots and mergansers statewide.
The daily bag limit and species restrictions for the youth season are the same as for regular duck and goose seasons.
On a trial basis, North Dakota’s Sportsmen Against Hunger Program is accepting donations of goose meat taken during the early Canada goose season.
Much like the popular SAH deer donation program, hunters can bring in their goose meat to participating processors. However, hunters must remove the breast meat from the birds before processors can accept them.
North Dakota’s swan lottery has been held and more than 300 licenses remain. Only hunters who do not have a swan license for the 2012 season can apply, as regulations limit hunters to one license per year.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding bowhunters that hunting deer over bait is now prohibited in deer units 3C, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.
Expansion of the area in which hunting over bait is no longer allowed is in response to recent discoveries of chronic wasting disease in deer in part of southwestern North Dakota. In 2011 only unit 3F2, where the first two CWD positive deer were taken, was closed to hunting over bait.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is currently working with 21 landowners in 17 hunting units across the state who would like to host antlerless deer hunters in 2012. The current list of landowners has 230 openings for doe hunters.
Participating landowners are located in hunting units 2C, 2D, 2G2, 2I, 2J2, 2K2, 3A4, 3B3, 3C, 3D2, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4B, 4D and 4E.
The program is not intended for buck hunters, but designed to direct hunters with antlerless licenses to specific areas to reduce deer populations.
North Dakota hunters should expect to see a slight increase in sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge numbers this hunting season, based on spring survey numbers. However, the ruffed grouse population continues on a downward trend.
The season for sharp-tailed grouse, ruffed grouse and Hungarian partridge opens Sept. 8.