2015 North Dakota Early Canada Goose Season

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North Dakota’s early Canada goose season is set, and bag limits and licensing requirements are the same as last year.

The season will open Aug. 15 and continue through Sept. 15, except in the Missouri River Zone where the season ends Sept. 7. The early Canada goose season has a limit of 15 daily and 45 in possession.

Limits and shooting hours for the early season are different from the regular season. Shooting hours during the early season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily.

Residents need a $5 early Canada goose license and a general game and habitat license. Also, residents age 16 and older need a small game license. Nonresidents need only a $50 early Canada goose license, and the license is valid statewide without counting against the 14-day regular season license.

A federal duck stamp for hunters age 16 and older, and Harvest Information Program certification, is required beginning Sept. 1.

Hunters who purchase a license through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website atgf.nd.gov, or instant licensing telephone number 800-406-6409, can easily get HIP certified. Otherwise, hunters can call 888-634-4798 and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required only once per year.

Waterfowl rest areas, closed to hunting during the regular season, are open during the early season. Most land in these rest areas is private, so hunters may need permission to hunt.

The early hunting season is intended to reduce local Canada goose numbers. Despite liberalized regulations the past several years, with longer seasons, large bag limits and expanded shooting hours, the statewide population remains high, with numbers well above population goals.

For additional information and regulations, hunters should refer to the Game and Fish Department website.

Doug Leier

2015 North Dakota Small Game Regulations

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2015 Small Game and Furbearer Regulations Set

North Dakota’s 2015 small game and furbearer regulations are set and most season structures are similar to last year.

Prairie chicken and sage grouse seasons will remain closed due to low populations.

Only North Dakota residents are permitted to hunt waterfowl from Sept. 26 – Oct. 2. Nonresidents are allowed to hunt waterfowl in North Dakota beginning Oct. 3. Other waterfowl season details will be finalized in mid-August in the waterfowl amendment to the small game and furbearer proclamation.

In accordance with state law, nonresidents are not allowed to hunt on Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas from Oct. 10-16.

Hunters should refer to the North Dakota 2015-16 Small Game and Furbearer guides (available mid-August) for more details on small game and furbearer seasons. Waterfowl regulations will be available in early September.

Species Opens Closes Daily Limit Poss Limit
Crows (fall) Aug. 15 Nov. 2 No limit No limit
Early Canada Goose Aug. 15 Sept. 15 (Sept. 7Missouri River Zone) 15 45
Mountain lion zone 1 early (zone quota 14) Sept. 4 Nov. 22 (or when zone quota is reached) Season limit of 1 per hunter
Mountain lion zone 1 late

(zone quota 7)

Nov. 23 March 31 (or when zone quota is reached) Season limit of 1 per hunter
Dove Sept. 1 Nov. 9 15 45
Mountain lion zone 2 Sept. 4 March 31 Season limit of 1 per hunter
Hungarian partridge Sept. 12 Jan. 3 3 12
Sharp-tailed grouse Sept. 12 Jan. 3 3 12
Ruffed grouse Sept. 12 Jan. 3 3 12
Tree squirrels Sept. 12 Jan. 3 4 12
Sandhill crane unit 1 Sept. 19 Nov. 15 3 9
Sandhill crane unit 2 Sept. 19 Nov. 15 2 6
Snipe Sept. 19 Dec. 6 8 24
Woodcock Sept. 26 Nov. 9 3 9
Tundra swan Oct. 3 Jan. 3 Season limit of 1 per hunter (license issued by lottery)
Pheasants Oct. 10 Jan. 3 3 12
Weasel trapping Oct. 24 March 15
Mink, Muskrat trapping Oct. 24 May 10
Fisher trapping Nov. 23 Nov. 29 Season limit of 1 per trapper

Doug Leier

have you seen?

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This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov. North Dakota Game and Fish big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings talks about the 2015 pronghorn season. Click here to Watch! To learn more about pronghorn, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep in North Dakota, visit the Game and Fish Department’s web portal on big game here: http://gf.nd.gov/hunting

Doug Leier

Shooting Sports Day Camp

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Recent hunter education graduates and their families are invited to attend the Brownells/National Rifle Association Day Camp at the Moffit Gun Range on Saturday, July 25.

The shooting sports activity runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and includes rifle, shotgun, pistol, muzzleloading and archery target shooting, hunting and safety information and demonstrations.

All equipment is provided, along with a free lunch and door prizes. For more information on the day camp contact Jack Kavaney at mvssa, or visit their website at mvssa.com.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters program, which provides grant dollars to help local communities and organizations fund events that promote youth hunting and shooting sports, is a primary sponsor of the event. For more information on the Encouraging Tomorrow’s Hunters program, contact outreach biologist Pat Lothspeich at 701-328-6332.

Doug Leier

Some Hunter Education Classes Still Available

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Adults and children looking to take a hunter education class in 2015 are reminded to enroll at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

Hunter education coordinator John Mazur said the majority of classes were held by the end of May. However, he said classes will still be added throughout the year as they become finalized.

“Our volunteer instructors will be adding classes, but not nearly as many as we move toward the fall,” Mazur said. “That’s why it is important to monitor our website and to act quickly when a class suits your needs.”

To register, click on the hunter ed enrollment link and “list of hunter education courses.” Classes are listed by city, and can also be sorted by start date. To register for a class, click on “enroll” next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.

Those who do not have access to the Internet and want to sign up for a class can call the hunter education program in Bismarck at 701-328-6615.

Individuals interested in receiving a notice by email when each hunter education class is added can click on the “subscribe to news, email and text alerts” link found below the news section on the department’s home page. Check the box labeled “hunter education class notification” under the education program updates.

In addition, SMS text notifications of new classes can be sent directly to a cell phone. Simply text “NDGF HunterClass” to 468311 to subscribe to this feature.

State law requires anyone born after December 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old, and children can take the class at age 11.

July North Dakota Outdoors magazine-FREE

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The July  issue of North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now. It’s highlighted by an in depth story on Lake Sakakawea Bounces Back by fisheries biologist Dave Fryda. Five years ago North Dakota Outdoors featured an article that outline the reasons for great optimism for the future of Lake Sakakawea. The optimism of 2010 is a reality in 2015. It’s important to look back to discuss how critical water levels and water management are to the fishery.


There’s a great piece of how some of the waters you fish have been named. Ron Wilson shares his findings on how places like Crooked Lake, Flooded House Lake and Paris Lake were named.   Check these stories and more for free in the full July issue  available right here: or here http://gf.nd.gov/publications


have you seen?

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This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov. North Dakota Game and Fish volunteer instructor John Paulson talks about the upcoming fur harvester course in Bismarck. Click here to Watch!

To learn more about fur taking in North Dakota and review some of the most frequently asked questions check out the Game and Fish Department website here or here: http://gf.nd.gov/hunting/furbearers/faq

2015 North Dakota ruffed grouse numbers

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North Dakota’s spring ruffed grouse survey indicated a 44 percent population increase statewide compared to 2014, according to Stan Kohn, upland game bird supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

The number of male grouse heard drumming in the Pembina Hills was up 86 percent from last year, while the Turtle Mountains had a 35 percent increase. No drumming males were heard in McHenry County (J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge), where they have not been heard since 2006.

The statewide average number of ruffed grouse drums heard per best stop was 0.94, up from last year’s count of 0.65. The last year statewide spring drumming counts were higher than 2.0 was in 1999.

“Ruffed grouse in North Dakota seem to adjust their numbers depending on habitat quantity and quality in an area and amount of food available,” Kohn said. “In states with good continuous aspen/birch forest habitat, ruffed grouse numbers usually rise and fall around 9- to 10-year cycles, but because the habitat in North Dakota is so fragmented, we haven’t seen these 10-year fluctuations in many years.”

2015 North Dakota spring breeding duck index

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 3.6 million birds, down 25 percent from last year, primarily due to weather conditions that resulted in an early migration.

Migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski said the spring migration was well ahead of normal due to open fields and warm temperatures. “Early migrants such as mallards, pintails and northern shovelers didn’t stay long due to the dry conditions,” Szymanski said.

photo by Ed Bry, ND Game and Fish

photo by Ed Bry, ND Game and Fish

Survey results indicated all species decreased from their 2014 estimates, except ruddy ducks (up 20.6 percent) and green-winged teal (up 11.5 percent), while wigeon remained unchanged at record numbers. Mallards were down 17.3 percent, shovelers down 48.7 percent, pintails down 43.6 percent and blue-winged teal down 29.3 percent. However all species, with the exception of pintails, were above the long-term average (1948-2014).

“The large number of ducks tallied during our survey is still 55 percent above the long-term average, and is consistent with the well-above-average populations we have been carrying for more than a decade,” Szymanski said.

While the spring water index showed a decrease of 47 percent from 2014, Szymanski said frequent rains in the weeks following the survey have since filled many wetlands and ditches.

“Conditions coming out of May into June were much wetter than what we observed during the week of the survey,” Szymanski added. “Substantial rainfall occurred in mid-May throughout most of the state, and wet conditions persisted through most of June.”

The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands or the type of wetlands represented.

Szymanski said the July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall.

“Our observations to date indicate that production will again be high across the state due to improved water conditions since the survey and increased wetland availability for brood production,” he said.

2015 North Dakota pronghorn season set

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North Dakota’s 2015 pronghorn hunting season is set, with 410 licenses available in three open units, according to Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department.

Along with unit 4-A, which was the only open unit in 2014, units 3B and 4C will hold a limited number of licenses. A total of 250 licenses are available in 4-A, 100 in 3B and 60 in 4C. All licenses are valid for any pronghorn.

Similar to last year, the three units will have a season that is split into an early “bow-only” portion, and a later gun/bow season.

The bow-only portion of the season is from Sept 4 (noon) – Sept. 27. Anyone who draws a license can hunt pronghorn with a bow in the unit printed on the license.

From Oct. 2 (noon) – Oct.18, hunters who still have a valid license can use legal firearms or bow equipment, and again must stay in the assigned unit.

Survey results indicated the number of pronghorn in the primary range was similar to last year, Williams said.

“Pronghorn in the three units have maintained a high buck-to-doe ratio, so we are having another limited season to take advantage of a surplus number of bucks and provide hunting opportunity, while still encouraging population growth,” Williams said.


Game and Fish biologists surveyed more than 9,900 square miles, which covers 100 percent of the primary range for pronghorn in North Dakota. The buck-to-doe ratio remained stable at 44 bucks per 100 does.

Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply for a 2015 pronghorn license. Williams said people who haveaccumulated bonus points and choose not to apply this year will not lose their points.

In addition, state law allows youth who turn age 12 on or before December 31, 2015 to apply for a license.

Applicants can apply online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications will be available the week of July 20 for printing off the website, and from Game and Fish offices, county auditors and license vendors, or by calling 800-406-6409.

The pronghorn license fee is $30, and the deadline for submitting applications is Aug. 5.

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