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. Friday, Nov. 7 at noon marks the opening of the 2014 regular deer gun season. Game and Fish wildlife division chief Jeb Williams talks about the upcoming deer firearms season.   Click here to Watch! 
http://gf.nd.gov/publications/television/outdoors-online-webcast

 

waterfowl hunting safety

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Waterfowlers hunting from boats are encouraged to wear properly-fitted life jackets while on the water.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department boat and water safety coordinator Nancy Boldt said there are hunting jackets available with life jackets already built in.

“There are no excuses, they are light and comfortable to wear,” Boldt said.

Eight people have drowned in state waters since 1998 while hunting from a boat, and none were wearing life jackets. Boldt wants to make sure a duck hunter doesn’t become another statistic.

“Capsizing and falling overboard from small boats are the most common types of fatal boating accidents for hunters,” Boldt added. “With all the gear in the boat, including dogs, it can quickly become unbalanced.”

In addition, wearing a life jacket will not only keep the overboard hunter afloat, but also slow the loss of critical body heat caused by exposure to cold water.

keep an eye out for whooping cranes

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Whooping cranes are in the midst of their fall migration and sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds’ activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

find & verify your deer license

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department urges deer hunters to find their license and check it for accuracy.

Every year the Game and Fish Department’s licensing section receives last-minute inquiries from hunters who can’t find their license. When that happens, it’s difficult to try to get a replacement license in time for the season opener.

Another reason to check the license now is to make sure the unit and species is what was intended.

Deer hunters in need of a replacement license can print out a duplicate (replacement) license application from the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, or can call 701-328-6300 to have an application mailed or faxed.

The form must be completely filled out and notarized, and sent back in to the department with a fee.

 

fall fisheries surveys

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North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists are assessing how the cooler-than-normal summer may have impacted fish spawning and stocking success across the state.

Fisheries management section leader Scott Gangl said it looks like catches varied this year, depending on the lake or fish species. “On a lot of our smaller lakes, we had extremely high catch rates of young-of-the-year fish in some, but disappointing catches in others,” Gangl said. “Overall, though, I’d say we experienced average reproduction and stocking success.”

With good water levels and abundant spawning habitat, Gangl said Lake Sakakawea produced good catches of virtually all young-of-year fish. Walleye were most abundant in the upper and middle sections of the reservoir, he said, with good numbers of perch and pike throughout. “Forage fish are plentiful on Lake Sakakawea this year, and both sonar surveys and anecdotal observations suggest rainbow smelt production was really good in 2014,” Gangl added.

Devils Lake and Stump Lake reported fair to good numbers of young-of-the-year walleye, while yellow perch reproduction was much lower than the strong reproduction year of 2013. “Although walleye natural reproduction was down in 2014, good reproduction in recent years has resulted in an abundance of young walleye in Devils Lake,” Gangl said. “Strong numbers of yearling perch will provide a good source of forage for walleye and other predators.”

According to Gangl, Lake Oahe is starting to show signs of recovery from the flood of 2011. “Although smelt numbers are still very low, reproduction of other forage fish, mostly white bass and crappie, was very good in 2014,” he added. “Young-of-year walleye displayed their highest catch rate since the dominant year class in 2009.”

However, Gangl said the Missouri River isn’t showing such signs of recovery, as catch rates of forage fish and young-of-year game fish remain low upstream from Lake Oahe. Biologists attribute poor production on the river to the massive habitat changes during the 2011 flood. “The flood scoured and changed the river channel so dramatically, it’s going to take a much longer time to recover,” Gangl said. “The productive capacity was taken away. It’s like scraping the topsoil from a field.”

have you seen?

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department website is packed full of information and tools. With the expansion of mobile use, this information is available for many different formats and uses, from your desktop at home to your handheld device in the field. Game and Fish GIS coordinator Brian Hosek talks about the Department’s mapping applications.   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

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.