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Buffaloberry Patch

Authors and Contributors

Greg Freeman

CWD Surveillance Moves West

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will continue its Hunter-Harvested Surveillance program during the 2018 hunting season, by sampling deer for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis from 17 units in the western portion of the state.

In addition, all moose and elk harvested in the state are eligible for testing.

Samples from hunter-harvested deer will be tested from units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3, 3B1, 3B2, 3D1, 3D2, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F.

Every head sampled must have either the deer tag attached, or a new tag can be filled out with the license number, deer hunting unit and date harvested.

Hunters are encouraged to drop off deer heads at the following locations:

  • Beach – Interstate Cenex
  • Belfield – Superpumper
  • Bismarck – Game and Fish Department headquarters, West Dakota Meats, 3Be Meats
  • Bowman – Frontier Travel Center
  • Carson – Hertz Hardware
  • Crosby – Crosby Water Plant, Jason’s Super Foods
  • Devils Lake – Game and Fish district office
  • Dickinson – Game and Fish district office
  • Dunn Center – Lake Ilo National Wildlife Refuge
  • Elgin – Gunny’s Bait and Tackle, Melvin’s Taxidermy
  • Glen Ullin – Kuntz’s Butcher Shop
  • Grenora – Farmer’s Union
  • Harvey – Lonetree Game and Fish district office
  • Hazen – Hazen Meats
  • Hettinger – Dakota Packing
  • Jamestown – Game and Fish district office
  • Kenmare – Des Lacs NWR, Lostwood NWR
  • Killdeer – Grab N Go, Hettich Salvage
  • Mandan – Butcher Block Meats
  • Minot – Johnson’s Taxidermy
  • Mohall – Engebretson Processing, Farmer’s Union
  • New Leipzig – Hertz Hardware
  • Parshall – Myers Custom Meats
  • Portal – Gastrak
  • Ray – Horizon Cenex
  • Riverdale – Game and Fish district office
  • Roseglen – Giffey Taxidermy
  • Scranton – Wolf’s Processing
  • Selfridge – Cenex
  • Stanley – Ace Hardware
  • Washburn – Enerbase
  • Williston – Williston Game and Fish district office, Mertin Kirschbaum, Scenic Sports, Bickler Taxidermy, Zerr’s Taxidermy
  • Wilton – Cenex.

Moose and elk heads should be taken to a Game and Fish office.

Deer Season Questions and Answers

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department receives questions every year from deer hunters who want to clarify rules and regulations. Some common questions are listed below. Hunters with further questions are encouraged to call the Department at 701-328-6300, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, or access the hunting link at the Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Q: What licenses do I need for deer gun season?

A general game and habitat stamp or a combination license, and the deer license. Gratis license holders need only the gratis license. The deer license is mailed after the general game and habitat license is purchased.

Q: Can I use my gratis license to take a mule deer doe?

Not in unit 4A.

Q: I shot a deer in Unit 3F2. What field dressing restrictions must I follow?

Hunters cannot transport the whole carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of the unit. Exceptions: meat that has been boned out; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately; hides with no heads attached; clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached; antlers with no meat or tissue attached; upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories; and finished taxidermy heads.

Q: I received a lottery license, and I own land in another unit. Can I hunt on my land in the other unit with my lottery license?

A person who holds a valid license to hunt deer may hunt the same species and sex of deer on land in an adjoining unit for which that person would be eligible for a gratis deer license.

Q: I can’t find my deer license. What should I do?

You must obtain an application for a duplicate license from the Game and Fish Department by calling 701-328-6300 or printing it off the website at gf.nd.gov. Fill out the form, have it notarized and return it to the Department along with a fee. You may not hunt without the deer license in your possession. If you find the original license after receiving a replacement, you must return the original to a local game warden or Game and Fish office.

Q: Can hunters age 14 or 15 (and qualifying 13-year-olds) with a youth season license who did not harvest a deer during the youth season, hunt the regular deer gun season with this license?

Yes, but you are subject to the restrictions listed on the license.

Q: I was unsuccessful in filling my mule deer buck license in a restricted unit during the youth season. Can I hunt the remainder of the state during the regular gun season?

No. You are restricted to the same unit as during the youth season.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

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

Only during the regular deer gun season.

Q: 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 easements under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.

Q: 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.

Q: 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 onto 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: Do I need to pay attention to the fire danger index in November?

In a year with a lack of moisture it can be of concern. When these conditions are present, hunters should keep track of the daily fire danger index, which restricts off-trail vehicle use and recreational fires when the index is in the Very High, Extreme and Red Flag Warning categories. Some counties may also still have localized restrictions in place.

Q: 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.

Q: What if I am going to take my deer head to a taxidermist and meat to a butcher shop?

How do I keep the tag with it all?

The tag should remain with the head and the carcass tag should remain with the meat.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

All Fish Survey Summary

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists completed fall reproduction surveys and most waters fared as good as or better than expected.

Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader, said Lake Sakakawea had the eighth highest catch of young-of-the-year walleye on record.

“There was good reproduction of most game species in the big lake, as we saw healthy numbers of pike, perch, smallmouth bass, white bass, crappies and walleye,” Gangl said. “And it’s the second year in a row of good walleye reproduction, which isn’t a surprise considering the high water is resulting in an abundance of food and habitat for the young fish.”

Lake Oahe showed good reproduction of walleye this year, which Gangl said is not necessarily a good thing.

“This is the fourth good year-class out of the last five years, leaving a lot of small fish out there right now,” he said. “Lake Oahe is lacking forage, which causes fish to grow slower than they should.”

Gangl said while there was some indication of gizzard shad reproduction in Lake Oahe in 2017, there wasn’t much this year.

“The cold winter didn’t allow for much survival of this forage fish,” he said.

Devils Lake saw fair to good numbers of walleye, with the catch close to average even though Game and Fish didn’t stock any walleye in the fishery this year.

“The end result was all from natural reproduction,” Gangl said.

Sampling results on smaller lakes generally vary from lake to lake. The common theme mentioned this year from fisheries personnel across the state is that the young-of-the-year fish were larger than normal.

“This is significant because bigger fish generally have a better chance of surviving through the first winter,” Gangl said, “and that’s an important step in getting to a catchable size in the future.”

Reproduction surveys evaluate natural reproduction, stocking success and forage abundance.

Winter Fishing Regulations

Anglers are encouraged to refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide for winter fishing regulations.

Some winter fishing regulations include:

  • A maximum of four poles is legal for ice fishing. However, when fishing a water body where both open water and ice occur at the same time, an angler is allowed a maximum of four poles, of which no more than two poles can be used in open water.
  • Tip-ups are legal, and each tip-up is considered a single pole.
  • There is no restriction on the size of the hole in the ice while fishing. When a hole larger than 10 inches in diameter is left in the ice, the area in the immediate vicinity must be marked with a natural object.
  • It is only legal to release fish back into the water immediately after they are caught. Once a fish is held in a bucket or on a stringer, they can no longer be legally released in any water.
  • It is illegal to catch fish and transport them in water.
  • It is illegal to leave fish, including bait, behind on the ice.
  • Depositing or leaving any litter or other waste material on the ice or shore is illegal.
  • Any dressed fish to be transported, if frozen, must be packaged individually. Anglers are not allowed to freeze fillets together in one large block. Two fillets count as one fish.
  • The daily limit is a limit of fish taken from midnight to midnight, and no person may possess more than one day’s limit of fish while actively engaged in fishing. The possession limit is the maximum number of fish that an angler may have in his or her possession during a fishing trip of more than one day.
  • Anglers are reminded that three North Dakota lakes are closed to ice fishing. The State Fair Pond in Ward County, McDowell Dam in Burleigh County and Lightning Lake in McLean County are closed when the lakes ice over.

Darkhouse Spearfishing Registration

North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season opens whenever ice-up occurs. The season extends through March 15. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

Darkhouse spearing is allowed for all residents with a valid fishing license and for residents under age 16. Nonresidents may darkhouse spearfish in North Dakota if they are from states that offer the same privilege for North Dakota residents.

All individuals who participate in darkhouse spearfishing must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to participating. Registration is available at the Department’s website, or through any Game and Fish Department office.

All waters open to hook and line fishing are open to darkhouse spearing except: Lake Audubon, East Park Lake and West Park Lake, all McLean County; Heckers Lake, Sheridan County; Larimore Dam, Grand Forks County; McClusky Canal; New Johns Lake, Burleigh County; Red Willow Lake, Griggs County; and Wood Lake, Benson County.

Anglers should refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide for more information.

Permit Required to Possess Dead Deer

North Dakota Game and Fish Department enforcement personnel are issuing a reminder that a permit is required before taking possession of a dead deer, or any part of a dead deer such as a skull and antlers, found near a road or in a field. Only shed antlers can be possessed without a permit.

Permits to possess are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement offices.

In addition, hunters are reminded to properly dispose of dead deer. Deer carcasses cannot be left on the side of a roadway or in a ditch, and deer parts cannot be discarded in commercial dumpsters.

Order 2019 OUTDOORS Calendars

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking orders for its North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar, the source for all hunting season and application dates for 2019. Along with outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, it also includes sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

To order online, visit “buy and apply” at the Game and Fish website, or send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Be sure to include a three-line return address with your order, or the post office may not deliver our return mailing.

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers will automatically receive it in the mail.

Advisory Board Meetings Set

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department fall advisory board meeting in their area.

These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.

The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the Department and public.

Any person who requires an auxiliary aid or service must notify the contact person at least five days prior to the scheduled meeting date.

Advisory Board Meeting Schedule