2014 North Dakota pheasant season preview

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North Dakota’s roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds and number of broods are up statewide from 2013.

Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey shows total pheasants are up 30 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were up 37 percent, while the average brood size was down 4 percent. The final summary is based on 253 survey runs made along 106 brood routes across North Dakota.

“With the good spring weather for most of the nesting and early brooding period, I suspected a better production year and it looks like it did occur,” Kohn said.

Even though average brood size is down slightly in all districts, Kohn said the number of broods observed will in most cases offset the small decline.

“Late-summer roadside counts indicate pheasant hunters are going to find more pheasants in most parts of the state, with more young roosters showing up in the fall population,” Kohn said.

Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate total pheasants were up 22 percent and broods observed up 23 percent from 2013. Observers counted 19 broods and 154 birds per 100 survey miles. The average brood size was 5.7.

Results from the southeast show birds are up 2 percent from last year, and the number of broods up 16 percent. Observers counted six broods and 50 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 5.4.

Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are up 21 percent from last year, with broods up 26 percent. Observers recorded seven broods and 57 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 5.1.

The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat, with much of it lacking good winter cover, showed two broods and 16 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 4.2. Number of birds observed was up 126 percent, and the number of broods recorded was up 166 percent.

The 2014 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 11 and continues through Jan. 4, 2015.

PLOTs cover photo

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The deadline is months away, but now is the time to frame the perfect photograph for a contest that will determine the cover of the 2015 Private Land Open To Sportsmen guide.

From end-of-day hunting shots, to scenic action or landscape shots, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department wants to feature hunter photos on the 2015 PLOTS cover and elsewhere that showcase North Dakota’s strong hunting heritage.

The department’s free PLOTS guide, which highlights walk-in hunting areas across the state, was first published in the late 1990s.

The only real contest guideline is that photos must include a PLOTS sign, front-facing or silhouette.

The contest deadline is April 30, 2015. Log on to the Game and Fish Department’s website,gf.nd.govto learn more about contest prizes, rules and entry information.

 

2015 North Dakota Outdoors calendar

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking orders for its North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar, the source for all hunting season and application dates for 2015. Along with outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, it also includes sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

To order, send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Be sure to include a three-line return address with your order, or the post office may not deliver our return mailing.

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers will automatically receive it in the mail.

watch out for deer this time of year

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Motorists are reminded to watch for deer along roadways, especially this time of year, because juvenile animals are dispersing from their home ranges.

October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists are advised to slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer along roadways. Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.

Motorists should be aware of warning signs signaling deer are in the area. When you see one deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. Also, pay attention on roadways posted with Deer Crossing Area caution signs.

Deer-vehicle accidents are at times unavoidable. If an accident does happen, motorists are reminded that a law passed by the 2013 state legislature eliminates the need for the driver involved in an accident to notify law enforcement authorities, if only the vehicle is damaged. Deer-vehicle accidents that involve injury or other property damage still must be reported.

In addition, a permit is still required to take parts or the whole carcass of a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement offices.

A few precautions can minimize chances of injury or property damage in a deer-vehicle crash.

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Don’t swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Try to brake as much as possible and stay on the roadway. Don’t lose control of your vehicle or slam into something else to miss the deer. You risk less injury by hitting the deer.
  • If you spot deer ahead, slow down immediately and honk your horn.

2014 bighorn sheep population survey

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Results from this summer’s bighorn sheep survey indicate the population in western North Dakota is lower than last year.

State Game and Fish Department big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the July-August survey showed a minimum of 287 bighorn sheep, down 4 percent from 2013. Results revealed 82 rams, 153 ewes and 52 lambs.

Due to an ongoing disease event in the northern badlands, Game and Fish biologists have verified more than 20 bighorn sheep deaths over the summer. Wiedmann said the survey is a tale of two segments of the state’s population. “The four herds in the northern badlands not affected by the die-off increased 28 percent from last year, with the lamb count increasing 46 percent,” Wiedmann said. “However, the eight herds impacted by disease declined 25 percent, with the lamb count declining by 66 percent.”

Although population levels were down markedly in portions of the northern badlands, biologists were pleased to see a slight increase in the southern badlands.

The department’s survey does not include approximately 40 bighorn sheep that live in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Game and Fish wildlife veterinarian Dan Grove said only time will tell how severe the die-off will be. “Mortalities so far have been significant but not yet catastrophic,” Grove said. “However, the outbreak is ongoing, and we have detected a virulent strain of bacteria from biological samples collected from dead bighorns. Consequently, impacts will be more apparent when females and lambs are recounted next March, but the full extent of the outbreak likely will not be realized until the 2015 survey is completed.”

Each summer, Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep, a process that takes nearly six weeks to complete as biologists locate each bighorn herd in the badlands by tracking radio-marked animals from an airplane, and then hike into each group to record demographic data using a spotting scope and binoculars. Biologists then complete the annual survey by recounting lambs in March to determine lamb recruitment, or lambs that survive the first winter.

 

last day of youth pheasant hunt

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North Dakota’s two-day youth pheasant season is Oct. 4-5. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger may hunt roosters statewide.

Resident youth hunters, regardless of age, must possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. Otherwise, nonresident youth hunters must purchase a nonresident small game license.

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Youth ages 12 and older need to have passed a certified hunter education course. The daily bag limit and all other regulations for the regular pheasant season apply.

An adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter in the field. The adult may not carry a firearm.

See the 2014 North Dakota Small Game Hunting Guide for additional information.

have you seen?

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The 2014 North Dakota pheasant season opens on October 11, 2014 and hunters are likely to find a few more roosters in the fields this fall.

NDGF upland game management supervisor Stan Kohn talks about the upcoming 2014 pheasant season.   Click here to Watch!   This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov.

http://gf.nd.gov/publications/television/outdoors-online-webcast

wetland conditions

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates good to excellent wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout most of the state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said the northwest has a near-record number of wetlands, while the rest of the state has wetland numbers similar to, or above the 2003-13 average.

“Most areas have fairly similar conditions compared to last year, with improvements in the central part of the state,” Szymanski said. “Really, we seem to have pretty good numbers of wetlands holding water statewide. The western half of the state is the wettest, but other than a few smaller isolated areas, hunters across the state shouldn’t have issues finding wetlands holding water.”

The western half of the state received significant rainfall in August. Hunters should be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots and areas like tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard.

The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is predicated on weather conditions and patterns. Szymanski said strong reproduction for ducks in breeding areas both in and outside of North Dakota makes for good fall hunting potential.

“Hunters should always scout because of ever changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl,” Szymanski said.

The wetland survey is conducted in mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season, to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect.

PLOTs regulations

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Out-of-state hunters are reminded that state law does not allow nonresidents to hunt on North Dakota Game and Fish Department owned or managed lands during the first week of the pheasant season.

Private Land Open to Sportsmen acreage and state wildlife management areas are open to hunting by resident hunters only from Oct. 11-17. Nonresidents, however, can still hunt those days on other state-owned and federal lands, or private land.

The law applies to all small game, waterfowl, furbearer and big game hunting on PLOTS and state wildlife management areas during the first seven days of the pheasant season. Starting Oct. 18 this year, nonresidents may hunt on PLOTS and WMAs as long as the appropriate season is open.

In addition, all hunters are reminded that activities such as riding horses for hunting purposes or for pleasure on PLOTS require written permission from the landowner. Permission from the landowner is always required for motorized vehicle access, such as for setting decoys in a field, unless specially designated on the PLOTS sign.

Also, leaving equipment or other provisions in a PLOTS area overnight, for example tree stands or blinds, decoys, firearms and archery equipment, trail cameras, or any type of bait used to attract big game animals, is not allowed without written permission from the landowner.

Jeb Williams named Wildlife Division Chief

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North Dakota Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand has appointed 15-year department employee Jeb Williams as chief of wildlife. Williams succeeds Randy Kreil, who announced his retirement in August.

“Jeb has a proven track record in all of his capacities with the department,” Steinwand said. “This, along with his communication skills, was a large part in his selection.”

Williams has been the assistant wildlife chief since 2011. He has also held biologist and wildlife resource management supervisor positions.

A native of Beach in Golden Valley County, he has a bachelor’s degree in biology and resource management from Dickinson State University.