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North Dakota Game and Fish Department Website Help Center

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Website Help Center

Deer Hunting FAQs

Deer Hunting Lands FAQs

Can I hunt road rights-of-way?

Do not hunt on road rights-of-way unless you are certain they are open to public use. Most road rights-of-way are under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.

Can I hunt on a section line if it is posted on both sides?

No. If the land is posted on both sides, the section line is closed to hunting, but is still open for travel.

Can I retrieve a wounded deer from posted land?

If the deer was shot on land where you had a legal right to be and it ran on posted land, you may retrieve it. However, you may not take a firearm or bow with you. The department suggests contacting the landowner as a courtesy prior to entering.

What if the landowner says I cannot retrieve a deer from posted land that was shot on land where I had a right to be?

Contact a game warden.

Can I drive off a trail on private land to retrieve a deer?

Unless prohibited by a landowner or operator, you may drive off-trail on private land once a deer has been killed and properly tagged. You must proceed to the carcass by the shortest accessible route, and return to the road or trail by the same route. However, off-trail driving is prohibited in all circumstances on state wildlife management areas, Bureau of Land Management lands, national wildlife refuges, national grasslands, federal waterfowl production areas and state school land.

Deer Hunting Manner of Take FAQs

Can I use a bow to fill my regular deer gun license?

Yes. You may use any legal firearm or bow during the regular deer gun season.

Can I use a gun to fill my bow license?

No. Archery licenses may be filled only with bow and arrow.

Can I carry both bow and gun afield during deer gun season if I have both licenses?

Yes, but only if you are going to fill your gun license. No firearms, except handguns, may be in the hunter’s possession while hunting with a deer bow license. However, handguns may not be used in any manner to assist in the harvest of a deer with an archery license.

Are muzzleloading handguns legal for deer hunting?

Yes. They must be .50 caliber or larger.

Are the .22-250 and .243 legal for deer hunting?

Yes. Centerfire rifles of 22 caliber or larger are legal.

May I carry a pistol when I am hunting with a deer rifle?

Yes, but the handgun must meet minimum requirements listed in the deer hunting regulations to be legal for taking deer.

How do I carry a revolver in a vehicle when hunting?

The cylinder of a revolver must be completely unloaded.

How do I carry a muzzleloader in a vehicle when hunting?

Remove the cap from a percussion gun or the powder from the flash pan of a flintlock.

Deer Hunting Miscellaneous FAQs

What if I have an antlerless deer permit and I shoot a deer with two-inch spikes, but I could not see them when I shot?

Game wardens have some leeway about what is an antlered deer. However, it is always a hunter’s responsibility to fully identify your target before shooting.

I shot a deer, but it is rotten. What can I do?

You must take possession of the animal by tagging it. A license only allows you the opportunity to hunt. It is not a guarantee to harvest a deer, or to the quality of the animal.

What should I do if I find a wounded deer?

Contact a game warden. Do not shoot the deer unless you want to tag it, or are instructed by the warden to do so.

Is camouflage blaze orange acceptable for the deer gun season?

No. You must wear both a hat and outer garment above the waistline totaling at least 400 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange.

I hunt with a bow. When do I have to wear orange?

During the regular deer gun season you must wear orange. During the muzzleloader season, however, bowhunters do not need to wear orange.

Can I transport someone else's deer?

Yes, but you will need a transportation permit from a game warden. The license holder, person transporting the animal, and the carcass must be presented to the game warden before the permit is issued.

If I see a collared deer during deer season am I okay to shoot it?

Yes. Radio-collared deer can be legally harvested during the deer season. Hunters are asked to contact the Game and Fish Department after harvesting a collared deer.

Should I be concerned about chronic wasting disease?

The threat of CWD is a serious concern to North Dakota and its natural resources. CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal to the animal. CWD will not likely be fully understood without the assistance, cooperation, and commitment of big game hunters and their families throughout the nation. As we learn more about the disease and its impacts on wildlife, we will keep the public informed. More information on CWD, including deer head drop-off locations this fall for the Game and Fish Department’s ongoing research project, is available here.

Deer Hunting - Harvest Surveys FAQ

Why is hunter harvest data important?

Hunter harvest data provides the basis for monitoring hunted big game populations across North America. Monitoring harvest allows biologists and managers to determine if current levels of harvest are sustainable, evaluate where in the state harvest is occurring, and determine hunter success rates.

How does the Department use data collected from harvest surveys?

Information provided by hunters is used to develop deer harvest estimates for all hunters throughout the state. Harvest estimates are then combined with other information such as aerial deer surveys, hunter observation surveys, input from landowners and Department field staff to develop annual recommendations for setting the following season’s license numbers.

How does the Department collect harvest data?

For archery, gratis and deer-gun seasons the Department uses a probabilistic sampling design whereby surveys are sent to a stratified random sample of hunters according to the gender, species, and unit of the deer tag drawn. For muzzleloader and youth deer seasons, questionnaires are sent to every hunter. Selected hunters receive a questionnaire survey in the mail shortly after the deer season closes, and generally a follow up questionnaires is sent after 3 to 4 weeks to those hunters who have not returned their initial survey.

Why does the Department send out surveys instead of using check stations?

A lot of states have voluntary, or even mandatory, reporting of deer harvest from successful hunters through physical check stations or via internet and telephone check-in systems. Although these reporting methods likely provide more data than questionnaires sent to a randomly selected sample of hunters, they come with important disadvantages.

Performing statistical assessments of harvest data from check stations is more difficult because: (1) the number of hunters that receive a license but do not go hunting is unknown, (2) the number of unsuccessful hunters is not known, because they are only required to report if they harvest a deer, and (3) the number of successful hunters who choose not to report the results of their hunt is not known. Therefore, harvest data from check stations potentially comes with additional problems not present in a probabilistically designed survey.

The surveys the Department uses measure unsuccessful hunters directly, and if there is bias from non-reporting, it can be dealt with by measuring the form and extent of non-response, or through statistical procedures (e.g. weighting). In addition to assessment disadvantages, physical check stations are costly to run and can be an inconvenient burden to hunters if the station is located far away from where the deer was harvested. Given the disadvantages associated with check stations the Department believes surveys provide a better estimate of deer harvest, are more cost-effective, and are more convenient for hunters.

Isn't the Department missing out on important data by not sampling everyone?

No. Under a probabilistic sampling design, the Department does not need to collect everybody’s hunting activity, because it is assumed that the portion of hunters in the sample are representative to the rest of the hunters across North Dakota (this assumption is evaluated every couple of years). This allows the Department to estimate harvest for unsampled hunters based on harvest statistics from hunters who returned questionnaires. However, in order to ensure accurate estimates with low variability, more than 20,000 hunters are sampled each year, or about 40% of North Dakota deer hunters (2018).

Why doesn't the Department send surveys out earlier in the season?

Deer surveys have been sent out in the same systematic way for almost 50 years. Making the survey available at the start of the season would represent a departure in the way the survey has been administered in the past. The concern is that this could introduce some sort of response bias in the results that manifests as an artificial increase or decrease in deer harvested. This would make it difficult to compare harvest data to past trends, thus invalidating one of the largest long-term data sets on deer harvest in North America.

Why do hunters need to complete a survey even if they didn't shoot a deer?

Knowing if a hunter did not shoot a deer is just as valuable as knowing if they did. In fact, it is sometimes more desirable to know when and where hunters were unsuccessful, because this may suggest lower deer populations in those units. Moreover, there is other valuable information about hunting activity in addition to success, such as participation and effort. Participation data is used to estimate harvest for unsampled hunters, and effort data is used to compare harvest relatively across different hunting units and past years (i.e. total deer harvested per total days of hunting).

Why aren't these surveys being done online?

The Department is currently (2019) working with the Biology Department at the University of North Dakota to find the best way to make deer surveys available online. Some hunters may have received these surveys as part of an ongoing research project. Preliminary findings suggest North Dakota hunters respond well to online surveys. Once the Department has a good understanding of how new modes of delivering surveys affect response rates and reporting biases, these new harvest surveys will be implemented more widely.