fall fisheries surveys

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North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel have wrapped up surveys and sampling efforts for the open water season, and results point toward good conditions on the state’s big waters.

“Fishing in North Dakota continues to be record-setting on most all levels,” said Greg Power, fisheries chief. “A record number of fishing lakes has contributed considerably to the record number of fishing licenses sold in recent years.”

North Dakota’s three big fisheries – Lake Sakakawea, Lake Oahe/Missouri River and Devils Lake – continue to account for approximately half of the annual statewide fishing effort.

Good habitat and forage conditions in Lake Sakakawea have resulted in an abundance of rainbow smelt and other alternative forage, which in turn has contributed to excellent condition and growth of game fish. Walleye numbers are high, and recruitment of several strong year classes in recent years bodes well for the future. In addition, a good population of northern pike should produce some of trophy quality.

Overall health of the Devils Lake fishery remains good. Walleye abundance is strong and anglers fishing for walleye this winter should expect similar numbers and size fish as compared to recent years. Northern pike are still plentiful with a nice average weight of about four pounds. The number of catchable-sized perch available is down from 2013 but still should be considered good.  Anglers will notice fewer of the large 12-14 inch perch this winter.

The Missouri River between Garrison Dam and Lake Oahe is still under the influence of habitat changes caused by the flood in 2011. Walleye numbers remain low, and walleye reproduction and forage fish production have been poor in recent years. However, the outlook has greatly improved in Lake Oahe, especially near the South Dakota border where recovering forage populations have led to improvements in walleye condition and growth. In addition, northern pike are in good shape, with many of trophy size.

 

have you seen?

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Have you seen?

This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov. NDGF wildlife division chief Jeb Williams talks about the 2015 Deer Licensing Preferred Option, which would limit North Dakota deer hunters to only one license per year.  Click here to Watch! 

Game and Fish to recommend one deer license in 2015

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A new plan under consideration by the State Game and Fish Department would allow North Dakota deer hunters only one license per year, starting with the 2015 season.

The preferred license distribution plan is the result of a declining deer population and continuing high license demand. “This year we had about 30,000 people who applied for a deer gun license and didn’t get one in the lottery,” said Game and Fish wildlife division chief Jeb Williams. “This new system will give more people an opportunity to hunt deer each year, compared to our current system.”

To gather input on possible changes, Game and Fish held a series of public deer management meetings across the state last winter. Hundreds of people attended these meetings, and many more interested hunters and landowners also provided written or verbal comments on how Game and Fish might manage deer license distribution, given the low population of both whitetail and mule deer in much of the state.

Following the deer management meetings, potential changes were also discussed at the spring round of public Game and Fish advisory board meetings held around the state.

“After evaluating all the input we received last winter,” Williams said, “the general feedback we heard is that hunters understand there is no longer enough licenses so that everyone can get one for the gun season, but at the same time, they don’t feel the current system is equitably distributing licenses, since some hunters can get two or even three licenses when thousands of hunters get none.”

To begin to address that inequity, Game and Fish’s preferred option for 2015 is to limit each hunter to one deer license per year. Williams said that still doesn’t guarantee that every gun hunter who applies in the lottery will get a deer license, but it will eliminate the possibility of someone getting multiple licenses.

If deer populations rebound substantially, Williams said the way licenses are allocated could return to the current system. “However, we are dealing with two dynamics that will make it difficult to do so anytime soon,” Williams added. “We have a deer herd that has been trending downward for several years, and we also have a growing population of people who possibly are interested in North Dakota’s hunting and fishing opportunities.”

In the preferred option, a hunter who is successful in the deer gun lottery would not be able to purchase a bow license or receive a muzzleloader license. However, as a way to provide additional bowhunting recreation, a hunter with a lottery gun license could also hunt with a bow any time during the open archery season, but only for the deer and unit specified on the license.

Resident hunters who apply in the deer gun lottery and do not receive a license, will still be able to purchase a bow license that is valid statewide for any deer.

“This is one of those things that we heard from people who like to hunt with both gun and bow,” Williams said. “They wanted to be able to apply for a gun license, and if they didn’t get one, they could still get a bow license. At the same time, if they did draw a gun license, they wanted a chance to hunt that deer with a bow during the archery season as well.

“We know it’s not the same as having both a gun and a bow license,” Williams added, “but we feel it’s a fair compromise while we work toward rebuilding our deer herd.”

Another part of the preferred option is that hunters would be able to apply simultaneously for the deer gun and muzzleloader lotteries. The application would allow choice of a preference, so if the hunter’s name is drawn and both muzzleloader and deer gun licenses are available at that time, the computer would issue the hunter’s preferred license.

In such cases, the computer would then remove the hunter’s name from the other lottery. Also in that case, Williams said a hunter would maintain the accumulated bonus points for the application that was removed from the lottery.

In addition, Williams said hunters will not lose any bonus points if they choose not to apply for a particular license.

Youth hunters under age 16 would be exempt under the preferred option, and could get a bow license as well as a deer gun or youth season license.

Gratis license holders could hunt in any open season on their own land, but may only get one license per year.

fall mule deer survey

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s fall mule deer survey indicated production in 2014 bodes well for the future.

 

Biologists counted 1,969 (1,761 in 2013) mule deer in the aerial survey in October. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.50 (0.46 in 2013) was slightly above the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.95 (0.74 in 2013) was the highest since 1999, and above the long-term average of 0.90 fawns per doe.

 

“Overall, this year’s fawn production is very encouraging, and with average-to-good survival should result in another increase in the spring,” said Bruce Stillings, big game management supervisor, Dickinson.

 

While it is encouraging to see mule deer numbers increase for the short-term, Stillings said challenges remain for continued population growth, including changes in habitat quality due to fragmentation and disturbance, predators and weather.

 

The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306.3 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine population abundance.

permit to posses dead deer

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North Dakota Game and Fish Department enforcement personnel are issuing a reminder that a permit is required before taking possession, or any part, of a dead deer found near a road or in a field, including the skull with antlers. Only shed antlers can be possessed without a permit.

Permits to possess are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement offices.

In addition, hunters are reminded to properly dispose of dead deer. Harvested deer cannot be left on the side of a roadway or in a ditch, and deer parts cannot be discarded in commercial dumpsters.

have you seen?

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The 2014 deer gun season opens Friday, November 7 at 12 noon central time. This week NDGF chief game warden Bob Timian answers some deer seasonquestions.   Click here to Watch!  This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov.

where is your deer tag?

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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 701-328-6300to 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.

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deer tags sold out

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The 48,000 deer gun licenses that were allocated by proclamation for the 2014 hunting season have all been issued, according to Randy Meissner, licensing manager for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

 

Meissner said according to state law, the number of deer gun licenses issued, including those licenses issued as gratis, cannot exceed the number of licenses authorized by the governor’s proclamation.

 

“This is the first time in more than a decade that all licenses were issued before opening day,” Meissner said.

 

The deer gun season opens Friday, Nov. 7 at noon central time.

 

Archery licenses can still be purchased through the end of the bow season on Jan. 4.

the next game warden

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test is at 10 a.m., Dec. 29, at the department’s main office in Bismarck.

Applicants must register to take the exam by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree. Other requirements are a current North Dakota peace officer license, or eligibility for a license, and a valid driver’s license. Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills in communications and writing, and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

Game wardens enforce game and fish laws and related regulations in an assigned district and other locations as determined by the department. Wardens normally work alone under varied conditions, at all hours of the day, night and weekends. In addition to law enforcement duties, wardens assist in the areas of public relations, education programs, and hunter and boat safety education.

Selection procedures following the test may include an evaluation of the application, a structured oral interview, background and reference checks, and psychological and medical examinations.

The salary for beginning game wardens through training is $3,500 per month. Upon successful completion of training, the salary is $4,016 – $6,693 per month. Wardens also receive the state benefits package, including travel allowance. Uniforms and other equipment are provided.

Sportsmen Against Hunger

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding deer hunters to keep in mind the Sportsmen Against Hunger program this fall.

While this year’s deer proclamation allows only one deer gun license per hunter, families with more than one license might want to consider donating a deer to this worthy cause. In addition, hunters with an archery and muzzleloader license can help as well.

The list of participating processors is available on the Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov, and at the North Dakota Community Action Partnership website, www.capnd.org.

Sportsmen Against Hunger is a charitable program that raises money for processing of donated goose and deer meat, and coordinates distribution of donated meat to food pantries in North Dakota. It is administered by NDCAP, a nonprofit agency that serves low-income families across the state.

For more information, visit the NDCAP website, or contact program coordinator Sarah Hasbargen at 701-232-2452.