A Look Back

Authors and Contributors

Ron Wilson

North Dakota held its first modern-day pronghorn season in 1951.

In the last 65-plus years, the season for an animal that inhabits the northeastern edge of it range in western North Dakota, has been held many times, but has not run uninterrupted.

In recent memory, of course, the pronghorn hunting season was closed from 2010 through 2013 as the pronghorn population was hit hard by difficult winters. This closure was the first in nearly three decades, according to Game and Fish Department records.

Starting in 2014, the Department has held limited pronghorn hunting seasons in western North Dakota and will follow suit this fall.

The photograph provided shows hunters from Valley City dragging a pronghorn buck back to their vehicle in Bowman County. The photograph was taken in 1952, the second year of pronghorn hunting in the state in many years.

“On the 22nd of September, 1951, North Dakotans hunted antelope for the first time since 1899. A two and one half day season, promulgated for the dual purpose of allowing the sportsman the maximum hunting consistent with good game management and reducing the crop damage in the area, was declared in parts of McKenzie, Golden Valley, Slope and Bowman counties,” according to the November 1951 issue of North Dakota OUTDOORS.

North Dakota held its first modern-day pronghorn season in 1951.

In the last 65-plus years, the season for an animal that inhabits the northeastern edge of it range in western North Dakota, has been held many times, but has not run uninterrupted.

In recent memory, of course, the pronghorn hunting season was closed from 2010 through 2013 as the pronghorn population was hit hard by difficult winters. This closure was the first in nearly three decades, according to Game and Fish Department records.

Starting in 2014, the Department has held limited pronghorn hunting seasons in western North Dakota and will follow suit this fall.

The photograph provided shows hunters from Valley City dragging a pronghorn buck back to their vehicle in Bowman County. The photograph was taken in 1952, the second year of pronghorn hunting in the state in many years.

“On the 22nd of September, 1951, North Dakotans hunted antelope for the first time since 1899. A two and one half day season, promulgated for the dual purpose of allowing the sportsman the maximum hunting consistent with good game management and reducing the crop damage in the area, was declared in parts of McKenzie, Golden Valley, Slope and Bowman counties,” according to the November 1951 issue of North Dakota OUTDOORS.

That year, 1,000 licenses were awarded to landowners and hunters.

“By the night of the 21st, Bowman, Beach and Watford City had become overcrowded cities. Bowman, especially, felt the influx of hunters as it is located right on the dividing line between Units 2 and 3. One woman in Bowman reported that, although she was not in the business of renting rooms, she had 17 telephone calls, requesting a place to sleep … Doubling up was the order of the day, with hotel and restaurant facilities taxed to the limit,” according to the November 1951 issue of OUTDOORS.

Those hunters lucky enough to draw a license that first season were asked to provide some insight on their hunt on a report card that was returned to Department staff. What follows is some of the reactions, also published in the November 1951 issue of OUTDOORS:

From Halliday – “I had some very good antelope hunting and good cooperation from landowners.”

From Hettinger – “Hard hunting! Once alerted, they’re very elusive.”

From Fargo – “Too tame, one of them licked my face before opening time.”

According to an editor’s note at the time, the last hunter from Fargo did not fill his pronghorn license.