Plots sign in badlands

PLOTS Guide - Public Use Regulations

From its inception 20 years ago, the goal of the Private Land Open To Sportsmen program was to provide walk-in public access for hunting on private land. PLOTS agreements do not allow activities such as horseback riding, camping, placing bait for any purpose, driving ATVs or snowmobiles, dog training and many others, without written permission from the landowner.

Game and Fish has specific regulations that apply to public use on PLOTS tracts. By establishing these regulations, the Department can better fulfill its responsibility to private landowners and help protect property enrolled in the program. In addition, the regulations provide clarity to hunters, and law enforcement officers are in a better position to enforce activities on PLOTS property.

Legal Definition

All PLOTS property is open only for public walk-in access for the purpose of hunting within legal hunting seasons, or as signed. All other activities require written permission from the property owner.

Walk-in access is defined as an individual travelling by foot with any legal firearm or bow, plus other equipment, accessories and provisions for the purposes of hunting.

Hunters may not leave equipment, accessories, or provisions unattended on a PLOTS tract without written permission of the property owner.

The regulations are enforced year-round, but do not restrict the landowner from participating in these activities on their own property enrolled in PLOTS. These regulations also do not restrict the landowner, tenant, family, hired hand, or other authorized operators from conducting normal farming or ranching activities as authorized in the PLOTS contract on their own property enrolled in PLOTS.

PLOTS Questions and Answers

Why are stubble fields sometimes included in PLOTS?

Lower quality habitat, such as a stubble field, is often included in a PLOTS agreement as part of a larger block of land that includes permanent, high-quality habitat. Landowners typically receive little or no payment for these low-quality acres, but there are cases where stubble fields are enrolled specifically for waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Is hunting allowed on PLOTS where cattle are present?

Yes. However, in such cases hunters should use good judgment and limit disturbance to the animals, and not shoot in their direction. In some cases, it may be best to come back another time as the landowner may have moved the cattle to another area, or removed them completely from the tract.

Is hunting allowed on PLOTS if there is an occupied dwelling within 440 yards?

North Dakota statute prohibits hunting within 440 yards of an occupied dwelling, with exceptions. The first is the “landowner exception,” which allows a person to hunt on his or her own land even if doing so is within 440 yards of another’s occupied dwelling.

The second exception is the “consent exception,” which allows hunting if the “occupier” consents to allow hunting within 440 yards of his or her building.

When a landowner enrolls land into a PLOTS agreement, permission to hunt on the land is granted. There is also a “public lands” exception to this law. Private lands enrolled in a public access program, such as PLOTS, fall into this category since the landowner has signed an agreement granting public access.

A hunter on public land, or PLOTS land, is not required to obtain the consent of the person occupying a building located within 440 yards of the hunter.

For safety purposes, fluorescent orange “No Shooting Toward Building” signs are placed on these PLOTS tracts to notify hunters there is a building or dwelling nearby.

Waterfowl hunter sign

Is driving on PLOTS to retrieve game or set out waterfowl decoys allowed?

PLOTS land is walk-in access only and you cannot drive on it unless you get specific permission from the landowner. Exception: Some PLOTS tracts are enrolled specifically for waterfowl hunting. These tracts are identified with a special green “Attention Waterfowl Hunters” sign. The PLOTS agreement for these areas allows driving access, on harvested cropland only, to allow hunters to set out decoys.

Is target shooting allowed on PLOTS?

No. PLOTS agreements are for walk-in hunting access only. All other activities require landowner permission.

Are horses or ATVs allowed on PLOTS?

No. PLOTS agreements are for walk-in hunting access only. All other activities require landowner permission.

No hunting in unharvested crops sign

Is hunting in standing or unharvested crops on a PLOTS tract allowed?

Yes, unless the PLOTS tract has a special sign stating “No Hunting in Unharvested Crop.”

North Dakota statute prohibits hunting in unharvested cereal and oilseed crops, including sprouted winter wheat, alfalfa, clover and other grasses grown for seed, without the owner’s consent. However, when a landowner enrolls land into a PLOTS agreement, permission is granted to the public to hunt on the land; therefore, it is legal to hunt in standing crops on PLOTS unless there is a special sign. In those cases, after the crops are harvested the fields may be legally hunted.

Is dog training allowed on PLOTS?

No. PLOTS agreements are for walk-in hunting access only. All other activities require landowner permission.

Are tree stands or ground blinds allowed on PLOTS?

Yes, but they must be removed when a hunter leaves unless the landowner grants written permission to leave them overnight. The same rule applies to other hunting equipment, accessories or provisions.

Is hunting over bait allowed on PLOTS?

Hunting deer over bait is legal on private land, but any type of bait qualifies as a “provision” for PLOTS purposes, and therefore bait must be removed when the hunter leaves, unless written permission is granted by the landowner

Is predator calling allowed on PLOTS?

Yes. PLOTS tracts are open to all legal hunting.

When are PLOTS lands open?

All PLOTS tracts are open to walk-in public hunting access during all legal hunting seasons, or as signed. NOTE: Hunters may occasionally encounter PLOTS signs that indicate the land is open only from September 1 – April 1. These are older signs that Game and Fish is gradually replacing with signs that read “Open To Hunting.”

Are nonresident hunters allowed to use PLOTS?

Yes, except for the first seven days of the pheasant season – October 7-13 in 2017. Nonresidents are also not allowed to hunt on Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas the first seven days of the pheasant season. The nonresident restriction on PLOTS and WMAs applies to all types of hunting, not just pheasant hunting.

Is trapping allowed on PLOTS?

PLOTS agreements are for hunting access only, so trapping requires written permission from the landowner. State law also requires written permission to trap on any private land, not just PLOTS land.

Is nontoxic shot required on PLOTS?

Nontoxic shot regulations on PLOTS are the same as for other private land. Nontoxic shot is required while hunting ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, tundra swans, mergansers, snipe and coot statewide.

Nontoxic shot is not required to hunt upland game, turkeys or big game on PLOTS.

Is it OK to park on oil pads when hunting a PLOTS tract?

No. Most oil pads are either owned or leased by an energy company and parking a vehicle on them is considered trespassing.

Can I drive on an oil field road on a PLOTS tract if it’s not located on a section line?

No. Most oil field roads are either owned or leased by an energy company and driving on them is considered trespassing.

Is it safe to hunt around oil wells?

It is legal to hunt around oil wells that are located on PLOTS tracts, but use extreme caution. Always attempt to stay upwind of any oil well due to the potential presence of hydrogen sulfide gas. Keep a safe distance and hunt away from the well, and don’t shoot in the direction of a well or any other infrastructure.

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