Whooping cranes are in the midst of their fall migration and sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.
North Dakota’s two-day youth pheasant season is Oct. 3-4. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger may hunt roosters statewide.
Resident youth hunters, regardless of age, must possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. Otherwise, nonresident youth hunters must purchase a nonresident small game license.
The 43,275 deer gun licenses that were allocated by proclamation for the 2015 hunting season have all been issued, according to Randy Meissner, licensing manager for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Meissner said according to state law, the number of deer gun licenses issued, including those licenses issued as gratis, cannot exceed the number of licenses authorized by the governor’s proclamation.
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.
Results from this summer’s bighorn sheep survey indicate North Dakota’s bighorn population has increased from last year, despite the ongoing presence of pneumonia.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the July-August survey showed a minimum of 304 bighorn sheep, an increase of 6 percent from 2014. Results revealed 87 rams, 159 ewes and 58 lambs. The department’s survey does not include approximately 30 bighorn sheep that live in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is currently working with landowners in 12 hunting units across the state who would like to host hunters with antlerless deer licenses in 2015.
Participating landowners are located in hunting units 2C, 2I, 2J2, 2K1, 2K2, 3A4, 3B3, 3C, 3D2, 3F1, 4B 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’s roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds and number of broods are up statewide from 2014.
Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey shows total pheasants are up 30 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were up 23 percent, while the average brood size was up 9 percent. The final summary is based on 259 survey runs made along 105 brood routes across North Dakota.
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.
North Dakota’s two-day youth waterfowl season is Sept. 19-20. Legally licensed resident and nonresident youth waterfowl hunters age 15 and younger may 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. Exception: the additional two blue-winged teal allowed during the first 16 days of the regular season are not allowed during the youth season.
North Dakota’s sandhill crane season opens Sept. 19 and continues through Nov. 15.
Limits are three daily and nine in possession in unit 1 (west of U.S. Highway 281), and two daily and six in possession in unit 2 (east of U.S. Highway 281). Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. each day through Oct. 31. Beginning Nov. 1, shooting hours are extended until 2 p.m. each day.
Hunters are urged to use caution and identify birds to prevent shooting at whooping cranes as they begin their fall migration.
Friday, Sept. 18 at noon signals the start of a nine-and-a-half-day deer hunting season for youth ages 12-15.
Licensed residents ages 12 and 13, and 11-year-olds who turn age 12 in 2015, are allowed to hunt statewide, but only for antlerless white-tailed deer. Resident deer gun hunters age 14 or 15, and 13-year-olds who turn age 14 in 2015, 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 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.