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.
As hunting seasons and other fall outdoor activities get underway, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters, anglers and other enthusiasts to be aware of the daily fire danger index.
Recent high daytime temperatures combined with typical dry late-summer ground conditions, could mean an elevated fire danger index that influences outdoor activities over the Labor Day weekend and continuing throughout the fall.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department advises hunters to be cautious with their dogs around water this time of year, due to potential health hazards associated with blue-green algae.
North Dakota hunters should expect similar to higher numbers of sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse this hunting season compared to 2014, according to Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department.
Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12. The season opens Sept. 12.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is once again asking grouse hunters for help with future bird management by simply collecting some feathers from harvested birds and sending in wing envelopes this fall.
Upland game biologist Aaron Robinson said hunters answered the call to return envelopes last year, and is hoping for the same participation again this year. “We typically struggle getting samples, but not last year,” Robinson said. “I’ve said that we’ll take as many as we can get because the more we have, the better the data.”