North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials said hunters should pull to the side of the road or find an approach when meeting combines, grain trucks or tractors pulling equipment.
In addition, hunters should avoid parking along roadways or field approaches where vehicles could block travel by farm machinery, leave gates as you found them, collect trash and empty shells, and not clean game in the road ditch or approach.
CWD Testing During Deer Bow, Elk, Moose Seasons
With the deer bow, elk, and moose seasons opening soon, North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials remind hunters of the options for getting animals tested for chronic wasting disease.
Hunters can drop off heads at any of the following locations:
Williston – North Dakota Game and Fish Department district office, 5303 Front St W.
Self-sampling kits are also available to hunters who wish to have their animal tested but are unable to drop the head off at a collection site. The kits allow hunters to remove the lymph nodes and ship them to the Department's wildlife health lab for testing. A sampling kit request form can be found on the Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.
Also note, whole carcasses of animals harvested in North Dakota must remain in the deer unit or may be transported anywhere in the state, but carcass waste must be disposed of via landfill or waste management provider. This does not apply to heads dropped at CWD collection sites or lymph nodes submitted for CWD surveillance. Taxidermists and game processors can also accept intact carcasses of animals harvested within North Dakota but assume responsibility for disposal.
Overnight Camping Restriction Lifted for Holiday
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will lift the Tuesday-Wednesday camping restriction on state wildlife management areas for the Labor Day holiday week.
The removal of the restriction will allow overnight camping Sept. 5-6 on those WMAs that otherwise have the two-day restriction in place.
With September in our sights, hunting seasons for upland game in North Dakota open soon.
The season opens for sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse on Sept. 9. Following that, the two-day youth pheasant season for legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger opens Sept. 30.
Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and partridge each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12. The daily limit for the youth pheasant season is also three birds, but the possession limit is six.
All hunters, regardless of age, must have a general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters 16 and older need a small game license.
Grouse and partridge hunters should refer to North Dakota OUTDOORS August-September issue for an outlook on the fall hunting season, available online by the season opener on the state Game and Fish Department’s website gf.nd.gov.
Hunters are urged to keep up with the daily rural fire danger index, issued by the National Weather Service, to alert the public to conditions that may be conducive to accidental starting or spread of fires. County governments also have the authority to adopt penalties for violations of county restrictions related to burning bans. These restrictions apply regardless of the daily fire danger index and remain in place until each county’s commission rescinds the ban. Information on current fire danger indexes is available through ndresponse.gov.
Hunters should plan accordingly and allow for time to receive their tag in the mail, as the tag will arrive by postal mail and not over the counter while the customer waits. This applies while purchasing a bow license at a license vendor, or at the Game and Fish Department’s main office in Bismarck. The bow tag will be mailed the next business day after the license is purchased.
All archery hunters must have a bow tag in possession before hunting.
State Game and Fish Department migratory game bird biologists expect a fall flight of ducks similar to 1998, 2004 and 2020.
If those past seasons don’t ring a bell, the fall flight is anticipated to be about 23% above last year’s fall flight, based on observations from the annual mid-July duck production survey.
According to Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird management supervisor, the department’s 76th annual breeding duck survey conducted in May indicated the 2023 duck index was the 23rd highest on record, up 1.5% from 2022, and exceeded the 1948-2022 average index by 39%.
“After a very dry summer and fall last year, a snowy winter helped wetland conditions rebound nicely going into breeding season. However, precipitation has been spotty across the Prairie Pothole Region of the state since spring thaw, with the southern and central areas of the Missouri Coteau receiving more consistent rainfall,” Szymanski said. “Habitat conditions in uplands and wetlands were in good shape for a majority of the breeding season. A relatively strong number of ducks present in May helped to support breeding efforts that, despite a late thaw, were not delayed to a great degree.”
The number of broods observed during the department’s July brood survey was up 79% from 2022, and 88% above the 1965-2022 average index. The average brood size was 6.5 ducklings, down 10% from 2022.
While there remains a shortage of upland nesting habitat across the state, Szymanski said overwater nesting species such as canvasbacks, redheads and ring-necked ducks all set records for number of broods observed this year, along with ruddy ducks nearly breaking their previous record.
Game and Fish biologists will conduct a separate survey in mid-September to assess wetland conditions heading into the waterfowl hunting season.
Swan Lottery Held
The swan lottery has been held and all 2,200 licenses were issued.
A total of 2,920 applications were received. Unsuccessful applicants will receive a refund to their credit card.
Individual results are available online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.
Federal Duck Stamp Required
A federal duck stamp is required for waterfowl hunters 16 and older beginning Sept. 1. Waterfowl includes ducks, geese, swans, mergansers and coots.
This year’s 2023-24 federal duck stamp is available for electronic purchase through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, or license vendors registered with the department’s licensing system. Physical stamps are not available at North Dakota license vendors but can still be purchased at many U.S. Postal Service offices.
The electronic stamp is a purchase item like any other hunting or fishing license. When the purchase is completed the electronic stamp is valid immediately. “Federal Duck Stamp” will be printed on the license certificate, along with an expiration date 45 days from the date of purchase. The physical stamp will be sent by postal mail.
The physical stamp is processed and sent by the official duck stamp vendor in Texas and should arrive to buyers well before the expiration date printed on the electronic license. The physical stamp must remain in possession of the hunter after the 45-day electronic stamp has expired. Individuals with questions regarding the status of their physical stamp can contact the federal duck stamp vendor customer service number at 800-852-4897.
The federal duck stamp has a fee of $25. An additional $2 fee is added to cover shipping and handling costs of the physical stamp.
Fall Turkey Season Set
The fall turkey season is set with 4,435 licenses available to hunters, 460 more than last year.
Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply. Nonresidents can apply for remaining fall turkey licenses following the first lottery.
The fall wild turkey season runs from Oct. 14 through Jan. 7, 2024.
Youth Outdoor Festival in Minot
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department, local wildlife clubs and other sponsors will usher youngsters into fall during the annual Youth Outdoor Festival in Minot.
The event is Aug. 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Game and Fish Conservation and Outdoors Skills Park on the grounds of the North Dakota State Fair.
Young outdoor enthusiasts will experience outdoor activities that relate to archery, fishing, waterfowl and upland game. Prizes will be awarded.
For more information, contact Game and Fish outreach biologist Greg Gullickson at 701-720-1640.
Chronic Wasting Disease Proclamation
Big game hunters should note the 2023 chronic wasting disease proclamation for baiting and transportation requirements for deer, elk and moose as a precaution against the spread of chronic wasting disease.
Noteworthy items include:
Whole carcasses of animals harvested in North Dakota can remain in the deer unit, or may now be transported anywhere in the state. However, carcass waste must be disposed of via landfill or waste management provider. This does not apply to heads dropped at CWD collection sites or lymph nodes submitted for CWD surveillance. Taxidermists and game processors can also accept intact carcasses of animals harvested within North Dakota but assume responsibility for disposal.
A new management strategy that allows baiting restrictions to be removed in a unit if the number of adult deer equivalent to at least 10% of the gun licenses allocated in the unit are tested for CWD within a year, and all the results are negative. If the sampling goal is not met or CWD is confirmed in the unit, the baiting restriction will remain.
No new units have been added to the baiting restriction list for 2023-24. Due to the timing of finalizing the proclamation, a one-year pause was placed on adding new units. Units 2K1 and 3B2 are scheduled to be added to the restriction list in 2024 due to a positive CWD detection during the 2022 hunting season within 25 miles in an adjacent unit. They will not be added if the 10% goal is reached this year and all CWD test results are negative.
Hunters are prohibited from transporting into North Dakota the whole carcass or parts, except the lower-risk portions, of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family harvested outside of North Dakota.
State Game and Fish Department officials will conduct surveillance of the state by region on a four-year rotation. This year, the CWD surveillance effort will consist of deer gun units in southeastern North Dakota. Outside of this area, hunters can still have their animal tested by taking it to a Game and Fish district office, any deer head collection site (primarily located in the surveillance area) or using a mail-in self-sampling kit. A unit outside the annual surveillance zone is still eligible to have a baiting restriction removed if the sampling goal is met, or can be added as a restricted unit if a positive is found.