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Buffaloberry Patch

Authors and Contributors

Greg Freeman

General Game and Habitat License Required for Deer Hunters

Deer hunters are reminded of a state law that requires hunters to purchase a general game and habitat license before receiving a deer license.

North Dakota Century Code 20.1-03-02 reads “a person may not acquire any resident or nonresident license to hunt, catch, take or kill any small game or big game animal unless that person first obtains an annual general game license.”

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will only mail deer licenses after the general game and habitat license is purchased.

The general game and habitat license can be purchased online by visiting My Account at the Game and Fish website.

Also, it’s important to locate your deer license and check it for accuracy, making sure the unit and species is what is intended.

Deer hunters who can’t find their deer license and who have already purchased their general game and habitat license, can get a replacement license by printing out a duplicate (replacement) license application from the Game and Fish website, or can request an application by calling 701-328-6300.

The form must be completed and notarized, and sent back in to the Department with the appropriate fee.

Game and Fish Allocates Three Bighorn Sheep Licenses

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department allocated three bighorn sheep licenses for the 2018 hunting season, two fewer than 2017.

One license is for Unit B3 and one for B4. Also, one license, as authorized under North Dakota Century Code, was auctioned in spring by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, from which all proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota.

Similar to last year, Game and Fish announced in February that the status of the bighorn sheep hunting season would be determined after completion of the summer population survey. The number of once-in-a-lifetime licenses allotted to hunters is based on data collected from the Department’s recently completed summer population survey. Results of the survey showed a total of 77 rams, 12 fewer than 2017 and 27 fewer than 2016.

Brett Wiedmann, Game and Fish big game management biologist in Dickinson, said the 13 percent decline in ram numbers was likely the result of an ongoing bacterial pneumonia outbreak that was first detected in 2014.

“In addition, 2017 had the second lowest lamb recruitment on record so only four yearling rams were observed,” Wiedmann said. “Encouragingly, no adult animals within the herds that were exposed to disease in 2014 showed clinical signs of pneumonia, and the summer lamb count in those herds improved.”

Pheasant Numbers Similar to Last Year

North Dakota’s late-summer roadside surveys indicate total pheasant and Hungarian partridge numbers this fall are similar to last year, while sharp-tailed grouse numbers are down.

R.J. Gross, North Dakota Game and Fish Department upland game management biologist, said the survey showed total pheasants observed per 100 miles were down 2 percent from last year. In addition, broods per 100 miles were unchanged, while the average brood size was up 27 percent. The final summary is based on 278 survey runs made along 101 brood routes across North Dakota.

“Even though survey data suggests pheasant production was certainly better than last year, hunters will still notice the lack of production from 2017 in the overall population,” Gross said.

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate total pheasants were down 32 percent and broods observed down 29 percent from 2017. For every 100 survey miles, observers counted an average of six broods and 45 pheasants. The average brood size was 5.2 chicks. Despite the population decline, Gross said the southwest still holds the most pheasants in the state.

Results from the southeast show birds are up 63 percent from last year, and the number of broods up 77 percent. Observers counted five broods and 40 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 5.8. Gross said while some areas of the state show a large increase in percentages from last year, such as in the southeast, it is important to keep in mind this is based off a low population in those areas in 2017.

Statistics from the northwest indicate pheasants are up 9 percent from last year, with broods up 4 percent. Observers recorded three broods and 26 pheasants per 100 miles. Average brood size was 6.5.

The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat with lower pheasant numbers compared to the rest of the state, showed two broods and 19 pheasants per 100 miles. Average brood size was 5.8.

Sharptails observed per 100 miles are down 49 percent statewide from 2017, while partridge are up 7 percent.

“Hunting will be slower than last season in most of the state, and all indications are that hunters will see significantly lower numbers of grouse statewide,” Gross said. “There will be localized areas of good hunting opportunities, but in general hunting will be fair at best.”

Despite increases in sharptail lek counts in spring for eastern North Dakota, brood survey results show statewide declines in numbers of grouse and broods observed per 100 miles, and a slight decline in average brood size. Observers recorded 0.8 sharptail broods and 6.8 sharptails per 100 miles. Average brood size was 4.55.

Although partridge numbers have shown a slight increase, Gross said most of the partridge harvest is incidental while hunters pursue grouse or pheasants. Partridge densities in general, he said, are too low to target. Observers recorded 0.4 partridge broods and 4.4 partridge per 100 miles. Average brood size was 7.03.

Whooping Crane Migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their fall migration and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these endangered birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

The whooping cranes that do make their way through North Dakota each fall are part of a population of about 500 birds that are on their way from nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, a distance of about 2,500 miles.

Whoopers stand about 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of about 7 feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar, and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette like a crane when viewed from below.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location and the birds' activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuge offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300; or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Trailer Available

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and Ducks Unlimited co-sponsor a trailer full of waterfowl hunting gear that is available to families with young hunters.

Purchased by the Game and Fish Department’s Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters grant program, the trailer is designed for families who don’t have the appropriate gear for their young hunters to hunt waterfowl. The equipment is donated by Avery Outdoors.

Use of the trailer is free, and it is equipped with goose and duck decoys for field hunting, and two bags of floating duck decoys and marsh seats for hunting a wetland.

For more information, or to reserve equipment, contact the Ducks Unlimited office in Bismarck at 701-355-3500.

Hunting from Duck Boats Safely

Waterfowlers hunting from boats are encouraged to wear properly-fitted life jackets while on the water.

Hunting jackets with built-in life jackets are light and comfortable to wear. In addition, wearing a life jacket will not only keep the overboard hunter afloat, but also slows the loss of critical body heat caused by exposure to cold water.

Capsizing and falling overboard from small boats are the most common types of fatal boating accidents for hunters.

Eight people have drowned in state waters since 1998 while hunting from a boat, and none were wearing life jackets.

Waterfowl Hunters Reminded of ANS Regulations

Waterfowl hunters need to do their part in preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species into or within North Dakota.

Waterfowl hunters must remove plants and plant fragments from decoys, strings and anchors; remove plant seeds and plant fragments from waders and other equipment before leaving hunting areas; remove all water from decoys, boats, motors, trailers and other watercraft; and remove all aquatic plants from boats and trailers before leaving a marsh or lake. In addition, hunters are encouraged to brush their hunting dogs free of mud and seeds.

Cattails and bulrushes may be transported as camouflage on boats. All other aquatic vegetation must be cleaned from boats prior to transportation into or within North Dakota.

In addition, drain plugs on boats must remain pulled when a boat is in transit away from a water body.

More ANS information, including regulations, is available by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website.

Sportsman Against Hunger Accepting Goose Meat

Waterfowl hunters are reminded that the North Dakota Community Action Sportsmen Against Hunger program is again accepting donations of goose meat taken during the regular waterfowl season. This includes both Canada and light (snow, blue and Ross's) goose donations.

Similar to last year, hunters can bring in their goose meat to participating processors after removing the breast meat from the birds at home. Or, hunters may also deliver geese directly from the field to a processor, but identification such as the wing or head must remain attached to the bird until in possession of the processor.

For a list of participating processors in North Dakota, visit the North Dakota Community Action website.

Breast meat brought from home without a wing or head attached must be accompanied by written information that includes the hunter’s name, address, signature, hunting license number, date shot and species and number taken. Information forms are also available at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website.

Hunters will also fill out a brief form so that processors can keep a record on donated goose meat, the same as is required for processing any other type of wild game meat.

Since no goose carcasses or feathers are allowed inside processing facilities, hunters must be able to ensure proper disposal and clean-up of carcasses.

Motorists Warned to Watch for Deer

Motorists are reminded to watch for deer along roadways this time of year because juvenile animals are dispersing from their home ranges.

October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists are advised to slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer along roadways. Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.

Motorists should be aware of warning signs signaling deer are in the area. When you see one deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. Also, pay attention on roadways posted with Deer Crossing Area caution signs.

Deer-vehicle accidents are at times unavoidable. If an accident does happen, law enforcement authorities do not have to be notified if only the vehicle is damaged. However, if the accident involves personal injury or other property damage, then it must be reported.

In addition, a permit is still required to take a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement offices.

A few precautions can minimize chances of injury or property damage in a deer-vehicle crash.

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Don’t swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Try to brake as much as possible and stay on the roadway. Don’t lose control of your vehicle or slam into something else to miss the deer. You risk less injury by hitting the deer.
  • If you spot deer ahead, slow down immediately and honk your horn.

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 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.

Staff Notes

Bahnson Hired as Wildlife Veterinarian

South Dakota native Charlie Bahnson has been hired as the Department’s wildlife veterinarian in Bismarck. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University and his Doctor of Philosophy in wildlife disease through the University of Georgia.

Kjos Hired as Wildlife Technician

Trenton native Zach Kjos was hired in July as a wildlife technician in the Game and Fish Department’s Williston district office. He has Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife and fisheries science from the University of North Dakota.