Bighorn Sheep, Elk and Moose Hunting Regulations
This guide is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as a complete listing of regulations. If you desire specific information on regulations and laws, visit the Game and Fish Department website (season proclamations) or for North Dakota state laws go to http://www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/T20-1.html.
Table of Contents
- Season Information - Bighorn Sheep
- Season Information - Moose
- Season Information - Elk
- Information for All Successful Applicants
- Bag Limit
- Hunting Big Game Over Bait
- Tagging Requirements
- Transportation and Storage
- Firearms and Archery Equipment
- Orange Clothing Requirements
- Other Restrictions
- Use of Animals
- Aircraft, Motor-Driven Vehicles, Lights
- Areas Closed to Hunting
- Posting and Trespass
- Road Rights of Way
- Wanton Waste
- Hunting by Nontribal Members on North Dakota Indian Reservations
- Moose Landowner Preference License
- Elk Landowner Preference License
- Unit Descriptions
- Sunrise and Sunset Times
- Report All Poachers Program
Information for All Successful Applicants
- Hours of hunting for all species are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
- All successful applicants should attend an instructional meeting prior to hunting. The Game and Fish Department will notify licensees of meeting times and places.
- Be prepared to hunt the entire season. Good physical conditioning is desirable because of weather variables and difficult terrain.
- Bighorn sheep, moose and elk are found on both private and public lands. Permission is required before entering posted private land. The Game and Fish Department strongly encourages hunters to make arrangements ahead of time.
Who May Apply - North Dakota residents are eligible to apply for bighorn sheep, moose and elk licenses. Nonresidents can apply for only a bighorn sheep license. No one may apply for a species for which he/she received a lottery license in previous years. (Exception: certain preferential landowner licensees.)
Hunter Education Requirement - Hunters born after December 31, 1961, must complete a certified state or provincial hunter education course and present the certification card to a license vendor to purchase a North Dakota hunting license. Persons who hunt only on land they own or operate are exempt from this requirement. The apprentice license is not valid for bighorn sheep, moose or elk.
Minimum Age - The minimum age for hunting bighorn sheep, moose or elk is 14 on or before December 31, 2018. Anyone under age 15 afield with firearms must be under direct supervision of a parent, legal guardian or other adult authorized by a parent or guardian.
General - Licenses are nontransferable. No person may give away, barter or sell an issued license.
Other Licenses Required - In addition to the bighorn sheep, elk or moose license, hunters must also possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate ($1) and a general game and habitat license ($20) or combination license ($50).
Licenses Available by Species and Unit
|Unit B1||to be determined September 1|
|Unit B3||to be determined September 1|
|Unit B4||to be determined September 1|
One additional bighorn sheep license is authorized to be auctioned under bid guidelines set forth by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. This license is valid for any open unit.
|Unit E1E||70 licenses||20 any, 50 antlerless|
|Unit E1W||40 licenses||15 any, 25 antlerless|
|Unit E2||140 licenses||50 any, 90 antlerless|
|Unit E3||130 licenses||70 any, 60 antlerless|
|Unit E4||10 licenses||10 any|
|Unit E6||14 licenses||4 any, 10 antlerless|
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Outdoor Adventure Foundation are each allocated one additional elk license. These licenses are valid for any open unit and any elk regardless of age or sex, and may be used in either the bow season or regular season.
Not more than two additional elk licenses may be issued to eligible organizations for a raffle or auction. These licenses are valid for any open unit and any elk regardless of age or sex, and may be used in either the bow season or regular season
|Unit M5||5 licenses||5 any moose|
|Unit M6||15 licenses||15 any moose|
|Unit M8||15 licenses||15 any moose|
|Unit M9||95 licenses||45 any, 50 antlerless|
|Unit M10||110 licenses||55 any, 55 antlerless|
|Unit M11||90 licenses||40 any, 50 antlerless|
The Outdoor Adventure Foundation and the North American Wildlife Enforcement Memorial Museum and Educational Center are each allocated one additional moose license. These licenses are valid for any open unit and any moose regardless of age or sex, and may be used in the bow season or regular season.
Not more than two additional moose licenses may be issued to eligible organizations for a raffle or auction. These licenses are valid for any open unit and any moose regardless of age or sex, and may be used in either the bow season or regular season.
Bighorn Sheep - One male bighorn sheep.
Elk - One elk of the type designated on license. Type of elk includes “antlerless” or “any” elk.
Moose - One moose of the type designated on license. Type of moose includes “antlerless” or “any” moose.
All elk or moose with at least one visible antler are considered “antlered.”
Hunting Big Game Over Bait
Hunting over bait is defined as the placement and/or use of bait(s) for attracting big game and other wildlife to a specific location for the purpose of hunting. Baits include but are not limited to grains, minerals, salts, fruits, vegetables, hay or any other natural or manufactured foods. The designation does not apply to the use of scents and lures, water, food plots, standing crops, or livestock feeds used in standard practices.
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; and all North Dakota state school, state park and state forest service lands.
Placing of bait for any purpose is prohibited on Department wildlife management areas.
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 securely attach it to the antler on an antlered animal, the horn on a horned animal, or in a slit in the ear on an antlerless animal. The tag shall remain in place with the horns, antlers or head until March 31, 2019. After the antlers, horns, head or hide have been removed from the carcass, the carcass tag shall remain with the carcass until the processed meat is consumed, or until March 31, 2019, whichever comes first.
In no case is it legal to possess or transport a moose, elk or bighorn sheep unless it is properly tagged. No person may reuse or attempt to reuse any tag issued. Tags are nontransferable. When any part of an animal is mounted, if the tag is removed from the horns, antlers or ear, the tag must be securely fastened to the back or bottom of the mount and remain there.
Anyone who harvests a bighorn sheep in North Dakota must have it plugged by North Dakota Game and Fish Department personnel.
Mandatory Elk and Moose Harvest Reporting - Elk and moose lottery license holders are required to provide hunter harvest information no later than February 1, 2019. Failure to do so will result in loss of eligibility for all lottery licenses in 2019.
Transportation and Storage
License holders must accompany their game animal, or parts thereof (excluding hide), during transportation, unless a permit for the transportation of game is issued by the Department upon request. Game may be shipped by common carrier (shipping companies, commercial meat processors and taxidermists) in receipt of proper bill of lading. A moose, elk or bighorn sheep carcass must be accompanied by the head to the final place of storage. No resident of the state may ship big game or parts thereof (other than hides) out of state without a permit from the Department. It is illegal to possess or transport another’s game animal, or parts thereof (excluding hide), without the license holder accompanying or as otherwise permitted. Processed and packaged meat (cut/ground and wrapped) of legally taken game may be gifted to another. Unprocessed, unpackaged game meat may be gifted as follows: 1) Prior to reaching the licensee’s personal residence a transportation permit must be obtained and accompany the game meat; 2) After reaching the licensee’s personal residence if accompanied by the name and address of the licensee.
Commercial processors and common carriers may possess any person’s legally taken possession limit of game.
Firearms and Archery Equipment
Legal Firearms - Centerfire rifles of .25 caliber or larger are legal for elk and moose, while a .243/6 mm caliber is the minimum for bighorn sheep. Centerfire rifles of .50 caliber or larger using smokeless powder are prohibited. Muzzleloading rifles or single shot muzzleloader pistols of .50 caliber or larger are legal. Rifles must have a minimum barrel length of 16 inches. Rifled slugs of 20 gauge or larger are legal for shotguns. Minimum barrel length for shotguns is 18 inches. Handgun (pistol, revolver or single shot) cartridge cases under .40 caliber must be at least 1.285 inches in length and bullets must be at least .257 inches in diameter. Handgun cartridge cases of .40 caliber or larger must be at least .992 inches in length. In addition, any handgun designed to fire a legal rifle cartridge is legal. Fully automatic firearms, full metal jacketed bullets which are nonexpanding, and altered projectiles are prohibited.
Legal Archery Equipment - 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 the bowstring. Bows used for hunting moose, elk or bighorn sheep must have at least 50 pounds of draw at 28 inches or less draw length. 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). Broadheads used for hunting moose, elk and bighorn sheep must be unbarbed and have fixed blades (i.e., broadheads with mechanical or retractable blades manufactured to stay open are illegal). 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, except a lighted nock 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 to the animal in excess of that inflicted by the cutting edges of the broadhead are prohibited while hunting big game with a bow (e.g. explosive arrow points, arrows tipped with drugs or chemicals, and pneumatic or hydraulic shafts are illegal). Crossbows are not legal, except with a permit from the Game and Fish director. Hunters may possess handguns while hunting big game with a bow license. However, handguns may not be used to assist in the harvest of the big game animal.
Nonlicensees - No bighorn sheep, moose or elk licensee hunting in the field during the bighorn sheep, moose or elk season may be accompanied by a nonlicensee carrying the same type of firearm or bow as the licensee. For the purpose of this section “type of firearm or bow” means one of the following: a) centerfire rifles; b) handguns; c) muzzleloading firearms; d) archery equipment; or e) shotguns. A nonlicensee is a person not having a bighorn sheep, moose or elk license for the same season and unit as the person with the license.
Orange Clothing Requirements
All big game hunters are required to wear a head covering and an outer garment above the waistline of solid daylight fluorescent orange color, totaling at least 400 square inches. This requirement doesn’t apply during the elk and moose bow seasons.
- It is illegal to go afield with a firearm or bow while intoxicated.
- Firearms must be unloaded and encased within the boundaries of any national park.
- It is illegal to hunt upon the premises of another within 440 yards 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 from the occupied building.
Use of Animals
It is illegal to use any animal except horses or mules as an aid in the hunting or taking of big game.
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. During hunting season a licensee cannot hunt the same day he/she is airborne over their hunting unit, with the exception of 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.
- It is illegal to shoot with a bow or firearm while in or on a motordriven 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 motordriven vehicle. The entire cylinder of a revolver is considered the chamber, requiring a 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 flash pan.
- Motor-driven vehicles may only be used on established roads or trails. (Exception: After an animal has been killed and properly tagged, a motor-driven vehicle may be used to retrieve the animal 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, U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands, federal waterfowl production areas, federal refuges, state trust lands, and any other areas where motordriven vehicles are restricted. (Exception: Motor-driven vehicles are allowed in the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Hills WMAs for retrieval of moose or elk during the following hours ONLY: 9:30- 10:30 a.m.; 1:30-2:30 p.m.; and 1/2 hour after sunset, for one hour. During these specific times, a motor-driven 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 by the same route.) Except for hunters having a special disability permit, no person may use a motor-driven vehicle while in the process of hunting big game, or aid another in the process of hunting big game, 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 on North Dakota Game and Fish Department Conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) property without permission from the landowner. These areas have been entrusted to the public for walking access through written agreements with private landowners. The boundaries of these properties are identified by large yellow triangular signs.
- It is illegal to use 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.
- The use of night vision equipment, electronically enhanced lightgathering optics or thermal imaging equipment for locating or hunting big game is prohibited.
Areas Closed to Hunting
Federal or state properties such as refuges, sanctuaries, military installations, parks and historic sites posted to trespassing or hunting are closed to hunting.
PLOTS Areas – In accordance with NDCC 20.1-08-04.9, nonresidents may not hunt any game from October 6 through October 12 on North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or on Conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas.
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 hunting page at www.land.nd.gov/hunt for additional information.
When hunting near the 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 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.
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 control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.
No person shall kill or cripple any big game animal without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and retain the big game animal in his/ her actual custody. No person shall waste, destroy, spoil or abandon the edible flesh of a big game animal at the place where taken or between that place and either (a) his/her personal residence; (b) a taxidermist; (c) a common carrier; or (d) a commercial processor.
Hunting by Nontribal Members on North Dakota 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.
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 and Fish Department, Box 549, 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) 766-1243.
Moose Landowner Preference License
Any resident who owns, or leases for agricultural purposes and actively farms or ranches, a minimum of 150 acres of land in the following units is eligible to apply for landowner moose licenses. For 2018, zero in M5; two in M6; two in M8; 14 in M9; 16 in M10; and 13 in M11. Landowner licenses are valid for any moose. Landowner moose license holders may hunt only upon land owned or leased by them and described on their application.
If a landowner moose license holder is unsuccessful in harvesting a moose, that person may return the unused license to the Department and apply for a license to hunt moose in future years.
Elk Landowner Preference License
Any resident who owns, or leases for agricultural purposes and actively farms or ranches, a minimum of 150 acres of land in designated areas is eligible to apply for a landowner preference elk license. For 2018, allocation of these licenses is as follows: unit E1E, 10 licenses; unit E1W, six licenses; unit E2, 21 licenses; unit E3, 19 licenses; unit E4, licenses issued in accordance with exemptions provided under N.D.C.C. 20.1-03-11.7; unit E6, two licenses. Individuals who receive a landowner preference license must pay the appropriate big game license fee.
Landowner Preference Elk License Eligibility Areas
Unit E1E - Cavalier, Pembina and Walsh counties, and those portions of Grand Forks, Nelson and Ramsey counties bordered on the north by Canada, on the east by Minnesota, and on the south and west by a line starting where U.S. Highway 2 crosses the Red River, then west along U.S. Highway 2 to ND Highway 1, then north to ND Highway 17, then west to the junction of ND Highway 17 and ND Highway 20, then north to Canada.
Unit E1W - Rolette County and those portions of Bottineau, Towner, Ramsey, Pierce and Cavalier counties bordered on the north by Canada, on the east by ND Highway 20, on the south by ND Highway 17, then west to the junction of ND Highway 17 and ND Highway 60, then continuing west along ND Highway 60 to ND Highway 5, then west to ND Highway 14, then north to Canada.
Unit E2 - McKenzie and Dunn counties, excluding all of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Unit E3 - Billings, Golden Valley, and Slope counties, except that portion of land known as unit E4 and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Unit E4 - An area in Billings and Golden Valley counties north of Interstate 94 (excluding all of Theodore Roosevelt National Park), composed of the following land:
- Golden Valley County
- T. 140 N. R. 103 W. All N. of I-94
- T. 141 N. R. 103 W. Sec. 25-27 and 34-36
- Billings County
- T. 141 N. R. 100 W. Sec. 19, 30 and 31
- T. 141 N. R. 101 W. All except T.R.N.P.
- T. 142 N. R. 101 W. Sec. 25-36
- T. 140 N. R. 102 W. All except T.R.N.P. and south of I-94
- T. 141 N. R. 102 W. All except T.R.N.P.
- T. 142 N. R. 102 W. Sec. 19-36
Unit E5 - The remainder of the state not included in a designated unit.
Unit E6 - That portion of Sioux County east of ND Highway 31.
Unit B1 - All of Slope County and those portions of Billings and Golden Valley counties south of Interstate 94.
Unit B3 - Those portions of Golden Valley, Billings, Stark and McKenzie counties starting at a point where Interstate 94 enters North Dakota, then following Interstate 94 east to U.S. Highway 85, then north to McKenzie County Road 50, then west to McKenzie County Road 27 – Red Wing Road, then north to McKenzie County Road 38 – Hay Draw Road, then west and north to Montana state line, then south to point of origin.
Unit B4 - Those portions of McKenzie and Dunn counties starting at the intersection of McKenzie County Road 38 – Hay Draw Road and the Montana state line, then south and east to McKenzie County Road 27 – Red Wing Road, then south and east to McKenzie County Road 50, then east to U.S. Highway 85, then south to ND Highway 200, then east to ND Highway 22, then north to McKenzie County Road 53, then west and north to ND Highway 23 (excluding area within Fort Berthold Indian Reservation), then west to U.S. Highway 85, then west and north to the south bank of the Missouri River (Lake Sakakawea), then west along the south bank of the Missouri River to the Montana state line, then south to the point of origin.
Unit M5 - Those portions of Grand Forks, Nelson, Ramsey and Walsh counties bordered on the north by ND Highway 17, on the west by ND Highway 1, on the south by U.S. Highway 2, and on the east by Minnesota.
Unit M6 - Those portions of Barnes, Benson, Burleigh, Cass, Dickey, Eddy, Emmons, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, McLean, Nelson, Ramsey, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Sheridan, Steele, Stutsman, Traill and Wells counties bordered on the east by Minnesota, on the south by South Dakota, on the west by the Missouri River and on the north by units M5 and M9.
Unit M8 - Those portions of Bottineau, Cavalier, Pierce, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner counties bordered on the east by ND Highway 1, on the north by Canada and hunting unit M4, on the west by ND Highway 60, and on the south by ND Highway 17.
Unit M9 - Those portions of Benson, Bottineau, McHenry, McLean, Towner, Pierce, Ramsey, Renville, Sheridan, Ward and Wells counties bordered on the east by ND Highway 1 and the boundary of hunting unit M6, on the north by hunting units M8, M4 and Canada. The western and southern borders are ND Highway 256 and U.S. Highway 83 to the point where the highway crosses the southern portion of Lake Sakakawea, then west along Lake Sakakawea and south along the Missouri River to Washburn, then north on ND Highway 200A, then east on ND Highway 200 to the junction of U.S. Highway 281 at Carrington. Mallard Island is included within this unit.
Unit M10 - Divide and Burke counties and those portions of Bottineau, Mountrail, Renville, Ward and Williams counties bordered on the east by Unit M9, on the north by Canada, on the west by Montana, and on the south by U.S. Highway 2.
Unit M11 - Those portions of Dunn, McKenzie, Mercer, McLean, Mountrail, Ward and Williams counties bordered on the east by Unit M9, on the north by U.S. Highway 2, and on the west by Montana. The southern border starts at the junction of Montana and ND Highway 200, then east along ND Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 85, then south along U.S. Highway 85 to ND Highway 200, then east along ND Highway 200 to the Missouri River east of Pick City (Unit M9).
RAP Program (Report All Poaching)
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.