White-tailed and Mule Deer Hunting Regulations
--- The following is from the 2020 season. This information will be updated for 2021 after the 2021 proclamation has been signed. ---
This guide is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as a complete listing of regulations. For more specific information on regulations and laws, visit the Game and Fish Department website (for season proclamations) or for North Dakota state laws go to www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/T20-1.html.
Table of Contents
- Season Dates
- Season Restrictions
- Hunting Hours
- Licenses Available by Season
- Orange Clothing Requirements
- Hunting Big Game Over Bait
- Transportation and Storage
- Tagging Requirements
- Bag Limit
- Firearms and Archery Equipment
- Aircraft, Motor-Driven Vehicles, Lights
- Areas Closed to Hunting
- Posting and Trespass
- Road Rights of Way
- Wanton Waste
- Use of Animals and Tree Stands
- National Wildlife Refuges
- Lead in Venison
- Fire Danger Index
- Concurrent Seasons
- Special Herd Reduction Season
- Hunting by Nontribal Members on ND Indian Reservations
- Report All Poachers Program
- Sunrise and Sunset Times
- Deer Gun Hunting Units
ATTENTION WHITE-TAILED DEER HUNTERS IN UNITS 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E
- White-tailed deer license holders for units 4B and 4C must hunt in their assigned unit for the first 2-1/2 days (November 6-8). For the remainder of the season they may hunt either or both units.
- White-tailed deer license holders for units 4D and 4E must hunt in their assigned unit for the first 2-1/2 days (November 6-8). For the remainder of the season they may hunt either or both units.
Deer Bow: See Special Herd Reduction Deer Bow Seasons. During the regular gun season orange clothing is required of all bowhunters and anyone accompanying apprentice license holders. Nonresidents are restricted to species of deer described on license. For residents, any deer is legal.
Youth Deer: Residents who turn age 11, 12 or 13 in 2020 – antlerless whitetailed deer only. Residents who turn age 14 or 15 in 2020 – any deer is legal. No unit restrictions, except in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F, a special license is required to hunt antlered mule deer. Those possessing restricted antlered mule deer licenses may hunt only in their designated unit the entire season. Orange clothing required for youth hunters and mentors. Each youth hunter must be under direct supervision (must be able to have unaided verbal contact) of an adult who is prohibited from carrying a firearm or bow while accompanying the youth hunter during the youth season.
Deer Gun: Restricted to type of deer and unit described on license. Type of deer includes species and sex. See map on back for unit descriptions. Note exception for white-tailed deer hunters in units 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E (see below). Orange clothing required for all hunters, and for anyone accompanying apprentice and youth license holders.
Muzzleloader: Restricted to antlered or antlerless white-tailed deer only as described on license. No unit restrictions. Orange clothing required for hunters, and for anyone accompanying apprentice license holders.
HUNTING HOURS are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset except opening day. Hunters must cease any hunting activity, leave any stand or blind, and must be in the process of leaving the field at the close of shooting hours.
Licenses Available by Season
Deer Bow - Resident bow licenses are valid for any deer and are not limited. Nonresident bow licenses valid for any white-tailed deer statewide are not limited. Nonresident any-deer bow licenses are limited to 780, a number equal to 15 percent of the total mule deer gun season licenses made available during the previous year.
Deer Gun - No more than 69,050 licenses, including gratis licenses, will be issued. Special permits designating type of deer and unit are a part of the gun license.
Muzzleloader - State law allows 2 percent of the total number of whitetailed deer gun licenses available each year to be issued as muzzleloader licenses. For 2020, 1,276 muzzleloader licenses may be issued, one half (638) as antlered whitetail and one half (638) as antlerless whitetail. Muzzleloader licenses are valid statewide.
Antlerless White-tailed Deer for Ages 11 (in 2020), 12 and 13 - Restricted to antlerless white-tailed deer. Valid statewide. The license is valid only during the dates of the youth season.
Youth Deer – Ages 14 and 15 in 2020. Restricted youth (type I) antlered mule deer licenses are limited as follows: units 3B1-60, 3B2-30, 4A-25, 4B-55, 4C-45, 4D-40, 4E-30 and 4F-20. Regular youth (type H) licenses are valid statewide for any deer (except antlered mule deer in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F) and are not limited. If the licensee is unsuccessful in harvesting a deer during the youth deer season, the license is also valid during the regular deer gun season. Restricted youth antlered mule deer licenses are valid only for the specific unit during either season.
Who May Apply - Residents and nonresidents are eligible for deer bow, deer gun and muzzleloader seasons. Residents who turn age 11, 12 or 13 in 2020 are eligible to receive an antlerless white-tailed deer license. Resident deer gun hunters who turn age 14 or 15 in 2020 and who have never received a youth season deer gun license (receiving a license at age 11, 12 or 13 does not apply) are eligible to receive a youth deer license.
Hunter Education Requirement - Hunters born after December 31, 1961, must have passed a certified state or provincial hunter education course in order to purchase a North Dakota deer hunting license. Persons who hunt only on land they own or operate are exempt from this requirement. In addition, individuals who are 12 years of age and older who have not taken the hunter education course can receive an apprentice hunter validation that enables them to hunt deer for one license year. Contact the Game and Fish Department for details.
Minimum Age - There is no minimum age for purchasing a bow license. The minimum age to purchase an antlerless whitetail deer gun license is youth who turn 11 in 2020. The minimum age to purchase a youth deer, deer gun or muzzleloader license is youth who turn 14 in 2020.
Nonresidents - State law allocates nonresidents 1 percent of deer gun and muzzleloader licenses available in any unit (through the second deer gun lottery). One half of the nonresident allocation of antlered white-tailed deer licenses, up to a maximum of 100 licenses, are available to licensed guides or outfitters. Nonresidents may apply for a deer gun license after the second lottery at a fee of $50. Nonresident full-time students living in North Dakota, who are attending a state or tribal college or a private institution of higher education, may qualify for nonlottery resident licenses. Contact the Game and Fish Department for details.
Military - North Dakota residents who were on federal active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces under Title 10 stationed outside of the state during the 2019 deer gun season and received the expeditionary medal or campaign badge, and apply during the application period are eligible to purchase one white-tailed deer gun license in a unit of their choice. Applicants are required to include documentation showing their award or qualification for the award with their application. Applications received after the application deadline will be issued licenses based on availability.
General – No person may transfer, give away, barter or sell an issued license.
Deer bow – All resident licenses, and nonresident licenses for white-tailed deer only, are issued by the Department’s Bismarck office, website or by calling 800-406-6409, or at participating license vendors. Nonresident any-deer licenses are issued only from the Department’s website. It is illegal to buy more than one regular deer bow license per season.
Antlerless white-tailed deer – Ages 11, 12 and 13 in 2020. Licenses are issued online through the Department’s website.
Youth deer – Ages 14 and 15 in 2020. Licenses are issued online through the Department’s website.
Deer gun – Licenses are issued by a weighted lottery. Any remaining licenses are also issued by lottery, or on a first-come, first-served basis.
Muzzleloader – Licenses are issued by a weighted lottery.
Resident Gratis and Nonresident Landowner - Licenses are available to residents and nonresidents who own, or residents who lease for agricultural purposes and actively farm or ranch, at least 150 acres of land located in an open hunting area. These licenses are valid only upon land described on the license. The license consists of the tag and the copy of the application returned to the landowner/lessee (both need to be in possession while hunting). The resident gratis or nonresident landowner license may be used during the deer bow, deer gun or muzzleloader seasons until the license is filled. Resident gratis and nonresident landowner licenses are issued only through the Department’s Bismarck office and are subtracted from the maximum number of deer gun licenses available (nonresident landowner from the 1 percent allocation), for each unit. A resident who holds a valid lottery license to hunt deer may hunt the same species and sex of deer, for which that person’s license is valid, on land in an adjoining unit for which that person would be eligible for a resident gratis deer license. A person, that person’s spouse, and their children who have a gratis deer license may hunt together on any qualifying land described on any of their licenses provided they hunt within the same unit in which their described land is located. No other licenses are required for resident gratis licensees. Applications received by the application deadline were issued an any-legal-deer license. Applications received after the deadline will be issued licenses based on availability after the initial lottery.
|Resident Deer Bow (16 years of age and older)||$30|
|Resident Deer Bow (under 16 at time of purchase)||$10|
|Nonresident Deer Bow||$250|
|Youth Deer (residents 15 and younger at time of application)||$10|
|Resident Deer Gun or Muzzleloader (16 years of age and older)||$30|
|Resident Deer Gun or Muzzleloader (under 16 at time of application)||$10|
|Nonresident Deer Gun, Muzzleloader or Landowner||$250|
|(Nonresident deer gun applicants also pay a nonrefundable application fee of $5.)|
Other Licenses Required - In addition to the deer license, hunters must also possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate ($1 for residents and $2 for nonresidents) and a general game and habitat license ($20) or combination license ($50).
Orange Clothing Requirements
All big game hunters, including bowhunters, are required to wear orange clothing while the regular deer gun season is in progress. All youth deer season and muzzleloader season hunters are required to wear orange clothing. Legal orange clothing is a head covering and outer garment above the waistline of solid daylight fluorescent orange color, totaling at least 400 square inches.
Hunting Big Game Over Bait
It is unlawful for an individual to hunt big game over bait, or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, in deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of U.S. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B and 4C. Hunting over bait is defined as the placement and/or use of bait(s) for attracting big game to a specific location for the purpose of hunting. Baits include but are not limited to grains, seed, minerals, salts, fruits, vegetable nut, hay, any natural derived scent or lure (e.g. urine), or any other natural or manufactured foods. Baits do not include water, food plots, standing crops or livestock feeds used in standard practices.
Placing of bait for any purpose is prohibited on all Department wildlife management areas. However, the use of scents and lures is permitted on WMAs outside the above-mentioned deer hunting units.
Hunting over bait is also not allowed on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas; U.S. Forest Service national grasslands; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands; and all North Dakota state school, state park and state forest service lands.
Baiting Restrictions Map (pdf)
Transportation and Storage
Hunters harvesting a deer in units 3A1, 3B1, 3F2, 4B and 4C, cannot transport the whole carcass including the head and spinal column outside of the unit (the entire city limit of a city that shares a boundary with one of these units is included in the unit). However, hunters can transport the whole deer carcass between adjoining CWD carcass restricted units. Exceptions to transporting outside of units 3A1, 3B1, 3F2, 4B and 4C: 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; skull plates with antlers attached having no hide or brain tissue present; intact skulls with the hide, eyes, lower jaw and associated soft tissue removed, and no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; antlers with no meat or tissue attached; upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories; and finished taxidermy heads. Hunters in 3A1, 3B1, 3F2, 4B and 4C are encouraged to take the tagged head to a chronic wasting disease dropoff location within the unit. Otherwise, tag the deer in the field and leave the tagged head. Keep the carcass tag with the meat when leaving the field.
License holders must accompany their own game animal, or parts thereof, (excluding hide) during transportation, except that a permit for the transportation of game may be issued by the Department upon request. Game may be shipped by common carrier in receipt of proper bill of lading. A deer carcass or boned-out meat must be accompanied by the head to the final place of storage (except in units 3A1, 3B1, 3F2, 4B and 4C as stated above). No resident of the state may ship big game or parts thereof (other than hides) out of the state without a permit from the Department. It is illegal to possess or transport another’s big game animal or parts thereof (excluding hide) without the license holder accompanying or as otherwise permitted. Processed and packaged meat (cut, ground and wrapped meat) of legally harvested game may be gifted to another (but not sold, traded or bartered). Unprocessed, unpackaged meat of legally harvested game may be gifted (but not sold, traded or bartered) as follows: 1) Prior to reaching the licensee’s permanent residence a transportation permit must be obtained and accompany the game meat; 2) After reaching the licensee’s permanent residence if accompanied by the carcass tag of the person who harvested the game. Commercial processors and common carriers (shipping companies, commercial meat processors and taxidermists) may possess any person’s legally taken possession limit of game. The carcass tag from the individual’s license shall accompany the carcass through processing and must be returned to the individual to be kept until the meat is consumed or until March 31, 2021.
It is illegal to possess any deer, or “parts thereof,” without first obtaining a license or permit issued through the Department. Natural sheds are not considered “parts thereof.” Therefore, a license or permit is not required to possess natural sheds.
IMMEDIATELY after an animal has been killed, the hunter must indicate the date of kill by cutting out the appropriate month and day from the tag provided with the license, and attach it to the base of the antler on antlered deer, or in a slit in the ear on antlerless deer. The tag, when properly placed, shall remain with the antlers or head until March 31, 2021. After the antlers, head or hide have been removed from the carcass, the carcass tag shall remain with the carcass or processed meat until consumed or until March 31, 2021. No person may reuse or attempt to reuse any tag issued. When any part of an animal is mounted, if the tag is removed from the antlers or ear, the tag must be securely fastened to the back or bottom of the mount and remain there. Tags are not transferable.
- Party hunting is not allowed.
- Any deer with at least one visible antler is considered an antlered deer.
- Resident deer bow license holders may take and possess one deer of any type per season, except as stated for special deer bowhunting areas.
- Nonresident deer bow license holders may take and possess one deer of the type described on their license.
- Residents ages 11, 12 and 13 in 2020 may take and possess one antlerless white-tailed deer.
- Youth deer license holders ages 14 and 15 in 2020 may take and possess one deer of any species, sex or age, except in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F where a special license is required to hunt antlered mule deer.
- Deer gun license holders may take and possess one deer of the type described on their license.
- Muzzleloader license holders may take and possess one white-tailed deer of the type described on their license.
- Resident gratis and nonresident landowner license holders may take and possess one deer as described on their license. However, they may not take a mule deer during muzzleloader season.
Firearms and Archery Equipment
Deer Bow Season - A bow must be pulled, held and released by hand. Any release aid may be used providing it is hand operated, the shooter supports the draw weight of the bow, and the release is not attached to any part of the bow other than at the bowstring. A compound bow used for hunting deer must have at least 35 pounds of draw at 28 inches or less draw length. Recurve and long bows used for hunting deer must have at least 35 pounds of draw at 28 inches. Arrows must be at least 24 inches long, tipped with a metal broadhead, with at least two sharp cutting edges, and have a cutting diameter of at least 3/4 inch (i.e., not able to pass through a 3/4 inch ring). It is illegal to hunt big game with barbed arrows (barbed refers to an arrowhead with any fixed portion of the rear or trailing edge of the arrowhead forming an angle less than 90 degrees with the shaft). Broadheads with mechanical or retractable blades are legal. Telescopic sights, range finding devices, battery-powered or electronically lighted sights or other electronic devices attached to the bow, or the arrow, are not permitted (exception: lighted nocks and recording devices which do not aid in range finding, sighting or shooting the bow are permitted). Handheld range finding devices are legal. Arrows capable of causing damage or injury in excess of that inflicted by the cutting edges of the broadhead are prohibited (e.g., explosive arrow points, arrows tipped with drugs or chemicals, and pneumatic or hydraulic shafts are illegal). 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. Crossbows are not legal, except with a permit from the Game and Fish director. When permitted, crossbows must: a) have a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds; b) be equipped with a working safety to prevent accidental firing; c) use bolts or arrows at least 14 inches in length. Crossbows equipped with pistol grips and designed to be fired with one hand are illegal. Telescopic sights attached to a crossbow with a maximum power of 8x32 are legal.
Deer Gun and Youth Deer Season - Centerfire rifles of .22 to .49 caliber, and muzzleloading rifles of .45 caliber or larger, are legal for deer. Magazine capacity is unlimited. Centerfire rifles of .50 caliber or larger using smokeless powder with a case length of greater than 3.5 inches are prohibited. Rifled slugs or patched round balls of 20 gauge or larger are legal for shotguns and muzzleloaders. Minimum barrel length of shotguns is 18 inches. Handguns must have a minimum barrel length of 4 inches and be .35 caliber or larger. In addition, any centerfire handgun designed to fire a legal rifle cartridge is legal. Muzzleloading handguns must be .50 caliber or larger. All legal bow equipment as listed in the deer bow season section is legal during the deer gun season. Fully automatic firearms, full metal jacketed bullets which are nonexpanding, and altered projectiles are prohibited. Precharged pneumatic air guns, charged from an external high compression source such as an air compressor, air tank or an external hand pump are legal for deer but must fire a projectile (excluding air bolts) of at least .35 caliber in diameter and at least 150 grains in weight with a minimum muzzle velocity of 600 feet per second. All legal bow equipment, including crossbows, as listed in the deer bow section are legal during the deer gun section.
Areas Closed To Hunting With Centerfire Rifles
During the open deer gun season only handguns, shotguns with rifled slugs, legal muzzleloading firearms and legal bow equipment may be used for taking deer on the following areas:
- That portion of Unit 2L starting where ND Highway 19 meets the east shore of Six Mile Bay on Devils Lake, then south and east along the north shore of Devils Lake to the South Creel Township line, then north to ND Highway 19, then west on ND Highway 19 to the point of origin, except Camp Grafton where a limited number of special permits will be issued to disabled veterans. Check with the Barnes County Veterans Service office for details – (701) 845-8511.
- The areas north and south of Bismarck described as follows: In Unit 3B3, starting on ND Highway 1804 at the north boundary of the Double Ditch Indian Village site, then south on ND Highway 1804 to the junction with the road known as River Road, then south on River Road to the Bismarck city limits, then west to the west bank of the Missouri River, then following the west bank of the Missouri River to a point directly west of the north boundary of the Double Ditch Indian Village site, to include river islands and sand bars, then east to the point of origin. In Unit 3C, an area commencing where the southwest boundary of the city limits of Bismarck joins the east bank of the Missouri River, then following the city limits of Bismarck easterly to the point where it meets the west bank of Apple Creek in the northeast one-quarter of Section 26, Township 138 North, Range 80 West, then following the west bank of Apple Creek in a general southwest direction to its junction with the north boundary of Apple Creek Wildlife Management Area and then west and south along the WMA boundary to the Missouri River, then following the east bank of the Missouri River to the point of origin.
- That portion of Unit 3C starting on ND Highway 1806 from Mandan city limits south to a point directly west of the mouth of the Heart River. Then east to the west bank of the Missouri River, then northerly along the west bank of the Missouri River to Mandan city limits and then west along Mandan city limits to the point of origin.
- Approximately 171 acres so posted in Unit 3B1 within sections 2, 10, and 11, Township 151 North, Range 104 West in McKenzie County.
- Those wildlife management areas posted with firearms restrictions at major access points.
- Approximately 90 acres so posted in Unit 3B3 within Section 18, Township 147 North, Range 83 West in the Wolf Creek campground area in McLean County. The lakeside boundary is the water’s edge.
- Approximately 60 acres so posted in Unit 2K1 within sections 21 and 28, Township 148 North, Range 83 West in the East Totten Trail campground area in McLean County. The lakeside boundary is the water’s edge.
Muzzleloader Season - Muzzleloading long guns of .45 caliber or larger, and handguns .50 caliber or larger, loaded through the muzzle, with flint or percussion ignition, firing black powder or black powder substitutes are legal. Smokeless powders are not legal. Telescopic sights are prohibited. (Exception: No magnification (1x) scopes are legal.)
Other Firearms/Archery Equipment Restrictions
- It is illegal to go afield with a firearm or bow and arrow while intoxicated.
- Firearms must be unloaded while traveling in or on a motor-driven vehicle within the boundaries of any national park.
Aircraft, Motor-Driven Vehicles, Lights
- It is illegal to use all types of aircraft, manned or unmanned, for spotting game 72 hours prior to and during the hunting season. A licensee cannot hunt the same day they are airborne over their hunting unit, except on a scheduled passenger airline flight. It is illegal to drive, concentrate, rally, raise, stir up or disturb game with all types of aircraft, manned or unmanned.
- Motor-driven vehicles may not be used to pursue game and may not be used to retrieve a big game animal until the animal has been taken into possession and legally tagged.
- It is illegal to shoot with bow and arrow or firearm while in or on a motor-driven vehicle.
- Unless otherwise authorized under N.D.C.C., no person may carry a firearm with a cartridge in the chamber in or on a motor-driven vehicle while hunting big game animals. The entire cylinder of a revolver is considered the chamber, requiring the revolver to be completely unloaded. Handguns with removable magazines or clips must have the magazine or clip removed from the firearm if the magazine or clip contains any loaded shells. It is illegal to carry any muzzleloading firearm in or on a motor-driven vehicle with a percussion cap or primer on the nipple or powder in the fl ash pan.
- Motor-driven vehicles may be used only on established roads or trails. Exception: After a deer has been killed and properly tagged, a motordriven vehicle may be used to make the retrieve by leaving the established road or trail and proceeding to the carcass by the shortest accessible route, and returning to the road or trail immediately by the same route. Motor-driven vehicles may not be used off established roads and trails for retrieval on state wildlife management areas, U.S. Forest Service national grasslands, Bureau of Land Management lands, federal waterfowl production areas, federal refuges, state school trust lands, and any areas where motor-driven vehicles are restricted. Except for persons having a special disability permit, no person may use a motor-driven vehicle while in the process of hunting deer or aid another in the process of hunting deer including travel to and from the hunting location unless the motor-driven vehicle is on an established road or trail.
- Established roads or trails do not include temporary trails made for agricultural purposes.
- No person may use motor-driven vehicles to retrieve big game on North Dakota Game and Fish Department Conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) property without permission from the landowner, or if the land is posted with signs granting vehicle access. These areas are available for walking public access through written agreements with private landowners. The boundaries of these properties are identified by large yellow triangular signs.
- It is illegal to engage in shining for big game with any artificial light for the purpose of locating or observing big game between sunset of one day and sunrise of the next. State law prohibits any harassment of big game animals that is not provided for in law.
- The use of night vision equipment, electronically enhanced light gathering optics or thermal imaging equipment for locating or hunting big game is illegal. (Exception: Lighted nocks and recording devices which do not aid in range finding, sighting or shooting the bow are allowed for big game archery seasons.)
Areas Closed to Hunting
Nonresidents are not allowed to hunt deer with a bow on Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or Private Land Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) areas from October 10-16.
Unless specifically authorized, federal or state properties such as refuges, sanctuaries, military installations, parks*, or historic sites posted to no trespassing or no hunting are closed to the hunting of deer.
*Exception: Portions of Fort Stevenson State Park in Unit 3A3 are open during the deer bow season. Contact the park office for details – 701-337-5576.
*Exception: Grahams Island State Park in Unit 2L. In addition to a Unit 2L deer hunting license, a special park permit is required. Special restrictions apply when hunting in the park. Contact the park office for additional information and for obtaining permits – 701-766-4015.
*Exception: Fort Ransom State Park in Ransom County. In addition to a deer bow hunting license, a special park permit is required. Special restrictions apply when hunting in the park. Contact the park office for additional information and for obtaining permits – 701-973-4331.
Also closed for the deer gun and muzzleloader seasons is that portion of Unit 2L starting at the junction of U.S. Highway 2 and ND Highway 20, then south along ND Highway 20 and ND Highway 57 to the north shore of Devils Lake, then northwest along the north shore of Devils Lake to the west edge of South Creel Township, then north along the township line to ND Highway 19, then east along ND Highway 19 to its junction with U.S. Highway 2, then southeast along U.S. Highway 2 to the point of origin, except Camp Grafton where a limited number of special permits will be issued to disabled veterans. Check with the headquarters at Camp Grafton for details – 701-662-0200.
School trust lands are open to nonvehicular public access, including hunting, unless posted with ND Department of Trust Lands signs. The only established trails on Department of Trust Lands available for public use are those that are signed with Game and Fish Department trail markers. See the ND Department of Trust Lands website for additional information.
When hunting near boundaries of closed refuges, sanctuaries, military installations, parks or historic sites – make sure you are familiar with any retrieval restrictions that may apply.
Posting and Trespass
- Only the owner or tenant, or an individual authorized by the owner, may post land by placing signs giving notice that no hunting is permitted on the land. The name of the person posting the land must appear on each sign in legible characters. The signs must be readable from the outside of the land and must be placed conspicuously not more than 880 yards (one-half mile) apart. As to land entirely enclosed by a fence or other enclosure, posting of signs at or on all gates through the fence or enclosure constitutes a posting of all the enclosed land.
- Hunting on posted land without permission from the owner or tenant is illegal and punishable by suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for a period of at least one year.
- Hunting on posted land without permission can be prosecuted even if the land is not posted to the letter of the law.
- Any person may enter upon legally posted land (without a firearm or bow) to recover game shot or killed on land where he/she had a lawful right to hunt. It is illegal to hunt in unharvested cereal and oilseed crops, including sprouted winter wheat, alfalfa, clover and other grasses grown for seed, without the owner’s consent.
- It is illegal to deface, take down or destroy posting signs.
- Failure to close gates upon exit or entry is a criminal violation punishable by forfeiture of hunting licenses.
- It is illegal to hunt upon the premises of another within 440 yards (one quarter mile) of any occupied building without the consent of the person occupying the building. This does not prohibit hunting on land owned by neighbors (private or public) even if the land is less than 440 yards (one quarter mile) from the occupied building.
Road Rights of Way
Do not hunt on road rights of way unless you are certain that they are open to public use. Most road rights of way are under the control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.
No person shall kill, cripple, waste, destroy, spoil or abandon the edible flesh of any big game animal without making a reasonable eff ort to retrieve and retain the big game animal in his/her actual custody, at the place where taken and between that place and either (a) his/her permanent residence (b) a taxidermist (c) a common carrier or (d) a commercial processor.
“Edible Flesh” (big game animals) is both front quarters, both hind quarters and back straps but does not include meat ruined by bullet or natural causes.
Use of Animals and Tree Stands
Animals - It is unlawful to use any animal except horses or mules as an aid in the hunting or taking of big game. State law allows the use of dogs in the recovery of big game – see N.D.C.C. 20.1-05-04 or contact the Department for additional information.
Tree Stands, Ground Blinds, and Trail Cameras – No person may construct or use a permanent tree stand or permanent steps to a tree stand on any state wildlife management area, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuge or waterfowl production area. Portable tree stands and portable steps, and natural tree stands may be used. Portable tree stands and portable steps are defined as those which are held to the tree with ropes, straps, cables, chains or bars. The use of nails, wire, screws or bolts to attach steps or a stand to a tree is prohibited on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas. Screw-in steps (allowed on state wildlife management areas) are those that are screwed into the tree by hand without the aid of any tools. Ladder type stands which lean against the tree are portable stands. A notched board placed in a tree crotch is a portable stand. Natural stands are those crotches, trunks, down trees, etc., where no platform is used. Tree stands do not preempt hunting rights in the vicinity of the tree stand. Tree stands, steps, ground blinds and trail cameras may not be put up on state wildlife management areas, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands or federal waterfowl production areas before August 20, 2020, and they shall be taken down by January 31, 2021. Tree stands, steps, ground blinds and trail cameras not removed by January 31, 2021, are considered abandoned property and are subject to removal and confiscation by the Game and Fish Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tree stands, steps, ground blinds and trail cameras left unattended on state wildlife management areas, federal waterfowl production areas and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands require an identification tag displaying the owner’s name, address and telephone number; or Game and Fish Department issued equipment registration number. Contact national wildlife refuge headquarter offices for individual refuge regulations. Portable tree stands, ground blinds and trail cameras on waterfowl production areas and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands may be used in accordance with state wildlife management area regulations.
National Wildlife Refuges
National wildlife refuges open to deer hunting during the youth deer season include: Arrowwood, Chase Lake, Des Lacs, J. Clark Salyer, Long Lake, Lostwood, Lake Alice, Lake Nettie, Sibley Lake, Slade, Tewaukon, Upper Souris and Zahl. Youth hunters are required to contact refuge headquarters for permission and details.
Certain national wildlife refuges may be open to deer hunting during the bow and muzzleloader seasons. Contact refuge headquarters for details. Some national wildlife refuges will be open during the deer gun season (see table), including some requiring a special refuge permit which controls the amount of access during the season. Special refuge permits are determined by lottery and must be applied for through the initial lottery drawing process. To receive a special refuge permit, an individual must first be successful in drawing a unit permit.
On national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas, hunting with horses or mules is prohibited and the distribution of bait and hunting over bait is also prohibited.
|Upper Souris NWR 701-468-5467||125 Antlered||3A2|
|Tewaukon NWR 701-724-3598||15 Antlered||2G2|
|RESTRICTIONS – Only holders of refuge permits may hunt antlered deer on the refuge. Refuge permit holders may hunt off the refuge anywhere in the unit. No refuge permit required to hunt antlerless deer.|
|J. Clark Salyer NWR 701-768-2548||175 Antlered||3A4|
|RESTRICTIONS – Only holders of refuge permits may hunt antlered deer on the refuge and permit holders may not hunt off the refuge. No refuge permit required to hunt antlerless deer.|
|Arrowwood NWR 701-285-3341||No refuge permit required.||2F2|
|Audubon NWR 701-442-5474||No refuge permit required.||2K1|
|Chase Lake NWR 701-752-4218||No refuge permit required.||2J2|
|Des Lacs NWR 701-385-4046||No refuge permit required.||3A2/3A3|
|Lake Alice NWR 701-662-8611||No refuge permit required.||2E|
|Lake Nettie NWR 701-442-5474||No refuge permit required.||2K1|
|Lake Zahl NWR 701-965-6488||No refuge permit required.||3A1|
|Long Lake NWR 701-387-4397||No refuge permit required.||2I|
|Lostwood NWR 701-848-2722||No refuge permit required.||3A1|
|Slade NWR 701-387-4397||No refuge permit required.||2I|
|Sibley Lake NWR 701-845-3466||No refuge permit required.||2F1|
|RESTRICTIONS – Open for entire season for hunters possessing a license in the unit.|
Lead in Venison
In 2008, the North Dakota Department of Health participated in a small study that identified the presence of lead fragments in some venison donated to three North Dakota food pantries. Since then, other states have conducted similar research and found similar results. More information on this issue is available on the North Dakota Department of Health website.
Additional Concurrent Seasons
Additional seasons may be proclaimed for antlerless deer only and will run concurrently with the deer gun, muzzleloader, and deer bow seasons, if the Game and Fish Director determines after the regular lottery that an adequate number of licenses remain unissued. These concurrent season licenses may be used during any open season, provided the unit, sex and species printed on the license is adhered to. Only firearms and archery equipment that are legal during the appropriate season may be used. Persons who have not reached the age of fourteen by the end of the calendar year are also eligible for a concurrent season license but these licenses will be issued as archery only.
Special Herd Reduction Deer Bow Seasons
- Additional special experimental deer bow seasons will be held for portions of the city of Bismarck, and private land in Burleigh County located adjacent to the city of Bismarck starting where the southwest boundary of the city limits of Bismarck joins the east bank of the Missouri River, then following the city limits of Bismarck easterly to the point where it meets the west bank of Apple Creek in the northeast one-quarter of Section 26, Township 138 North, Range 80 West, then following the west bank of Apple Creek in a general southwest direction to its junction with the north boundary of Apple Creek Wildlife Management Area and then west and south along the WMA boundary to the Missouri River, then following the east bank of the Missouri River to the point of origin. This does not include the NDDOCR property referred to in Section F. A maximum of 100 antlerless special deer bow licenses (available from the Department’s Bismarck office) will be issued. Season dates are 12 noon Central Time on September 4, 2020 – January 31, 2021. (Hunters possessing a regular bow season license may use that license only during the regular deer bow season.) Hunters who desire to hunt within the city limits of Bismarck must receive trespass permits from the Bismarck chief of police. No orange clothing is required unless required by city officials within city limits. Contact the Bismarck Police Department for additional information – 701-223-1212. Map (pdf)
- Additional special experimental deer bow seasons will be held for private land in Burleigh County located adjacent to the city of Bismarck starting where the northwest boundary of the city limits of Bismarck joins the east bank of the Missouri River, then following the river north to the Burleigh County line (County Road 24), then east to U.S. Highway 83, then south to the city limits of Bismarck, and then west to the point of origin. A maximum of 400 antlerless special deer bow licenses (available from the Department’s Bismarck office) will be issued. Season dates are 12 noon Central Time on September 4, 2020 – January 31, 2021. Legal bow equipment, manner of taking, shooting hours and all other requirements are the same as printed in the deer proclamation. Map (pdf)
- Additional special experimental deer bow seasons will be held for private land in Morton County located adjacent to the city of Mandan starting where the southeast boundary of the city limits of Mandan joins the west bank of the Missouri River, then following the west bank of the river in a southwest direction to a point where it meets the east bank of the Heart River, then following the east bank of the Heart River north to its junction with the south boundary of the city limits of Mandan, then east to the point of origin. A maximum of 50 antlerless special deer bow licenses (available from the Department’s Bismarck office) will be issued. Season dates are 12 noon Central Time on September 4, 2020 – January 31, 2021. Hunters possessing a regular bow season license may use that license only during the regular bow season. Map (pdf)
- Additional special experimental deer bow seasons will be held in portions of the city of Fargo and adjacent areas, including privately owned land. A maximum of 90 antlerless special deer bow season licenses (available from the Department’s Bismarck office) will be issued for hunting in the city of Fargo and adjacent areas. Specific details, including areas open to hunting, will be determined by the city of Fargo. No orange clothing required. Hunters who desire to hunt within the city limits of Fargo must receive a Deer Management Permit from the city of Fargo prior to being issued licenses from the Game and Fish Department. Hunters must submit applications to the Department’s Bismarck office along with a copy of their Fargo City Deer Management Permit and $30 for each license. Any unissued permits remaining after October 31, 2020 can be issued by FCDMP holders on a first-come, first-served basis. Season dates are 12 noon Central Time September 4, 2020, through January 31, 2021.
- A maximum of 35 antlerless deer bow permits (available from the Department’s Bismarck office) will be issued for hunting at the USDAARS Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan. This special season will run from September 4, 2020 through January 31, 2021. Applicants must first obtain a permit from USDA-ARS and can apply only through their website at www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/mandan-nd/ngprl/.
- Three special experimental antlerless deer bow seasons will be held on the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation land south of Bismarck, North Dakota. Hunters must first obtain a NDDOCR access permit before hunting on NDDOCR land. Only 25 access permits will be granted to archery hunters and access permits are only available through the NDDOCR. A maximum of 75 antlerless deer bow licenses (available from the Department’s Bismarck office) will be issued. Each access permit holder can purchase up to three antlerless white-tailed deer licenses. The season opens at 12 noon Central Time, September 4, 2020 and will close January 31, 2021. Other details, including areas open to hunting, will be determined by the NDDOCR. Hunters must comply with all other applicable archery rules and regulations. Map (pdf)
- Additional special experimental deer bow seasons will be held in portions of the city of Minot, including privately owned land. A maximum of 40 antlerless special deer bow season licenses (available from the Department’s Bismarck office) will be issued for hunting in the city of Minot. Specific details including areas open to hunting will be determined by the city of Minot. No orange clothing required. Hunters who desire to hunt within the city limits of Minot must receive a Deer Management Permit from the city of Minot prior to being issued licenses from the Game and Fish Department. Hunters must submit applications to the Department’s Bismarck office along with a copy of their Minot City Deer Management Permit and $30 for each license. Any unissued permits remaining after October 31, 2020, can be purchased by MCDMP holders on a first-come, first-served basis. Season dates are 12 noon Central Time September 4, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
Hunting by Nontribal Members on ND Indian Reservations
If an individual hunts exclusively on Indian lands within an Indian reservation, a tribal license is required and a state hunting license is not required. Hunting on nontribal lands within an Indian reservation requires a state hunting license. Game taken legally with a tribal license within an Indian reservation may be possessed and transported anywhere in North Dakota. Exception: Whole deer carcasses harvested on Standing Rock Reservation tribal land within deer hunting unit 3F2 may not be transported outside of unit 3F2.
Portions of some units are located on Indian reservations. Contact reservation tribal offices for more information.
- Fort Berthold. Game and Fish Department, 404 Frontage Road, New Town, ND 58763, 701-627-4760.
- Standing Rock. Game, Fish & Wildlife Department, Box 549, 9418 11th Avenue, Fort Yates, ND 58538, 701-854-7236.
- Turtle Mountain. Department of Natural Resources, Box 570, Belcourt, ND 58316, 701-477-2604.
- Spirit Lake. Fish and Wildlife Department, Box 359, Fort Totten, ND 58335, 701-766-4221.
RAP Program (Report All Poachers)
RAP (REPORT ALL POACHERS) PROGRAM. This program encourages people to report wildlife violations, remain anonymous if they prefer, and receive monetary rewards for convictions based on their information. Anonymous callers will be given a special code number and are not required to give their name. Rewards range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the nature and seriousness of the crime. Call 701-328-9921. Call this number only to report game and fish violations. The reward fund is supported by private donations. If you wish to donate to the RAP program, tax deductible contributions can be sent to RAP, Box 1091, Bismarck, ND, 58502- 1091.
Deer Gun Hunting Units
All units are bounded by interstate highways, U.S. highways or North Dakota state highways as noted on the map, with the following exceptions:
- Western half of boundary between units 2F1 and 2L – Eddy County No. 1 heading east from its junction with U.S. Highway 281 at Sheyenne to its junction with ND Highway 20.
- Boundary between units 3A3 and 3B2 – North shore of Lake Sakakawea. Except for Mathews (deTrobriand) Island and Mallard Island; all islands are part of Unit 3B2. Mathews (deTrobriand) Island is part of Unit 3A3. Mallard Island is part of Unit 3B3.
- Boundary between units 3B2 and 3B3 – South shore of Lake Sakakawea heading west from U.S. Highway 83 to a point on the shore directly north of where ND Highway 200 turns southward (west of Pick City), then south to ND Highway 200. Mallard Island is part of Unit 3B3.
- Boundary between units 3F2 and 3C – The junction of ND Highway 6 and ND Highway 21 heading south on ND Highway 6 to the junction with ND Highway 24, then east on ND Highway 24 and continuing east to a point on the west shore of the Missouri River, then following the Missouri River shoreline south to the South Dakota border.
- Boundary between units 4B and 4C – The Little Missouri River.
- Boundary between units 4D and 4E – The northern Slope County line heading west from its junction with U.S. Highway 85 to the Little Missouri River, then south on the Little Missouri River to U.S. Highway 12.