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2013 North Dakota deer season details are set

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North Dakota’s 2013 deer season is set, with 59,500 licenses available to hunters this fall, 5,800 fewer than last year and the lowest since 1983.


Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said after a significant reduction in gun licenses in 2012, harvest and survey data revealed deer populations are still below management objectives in most units.


“The statewide hunter success rate in 2012 was 63 percent, which is higher than in 2011 (52 percent), but is still lower than our goal of 70 percent,” Kreil said. “The decrease of licenses in 2013 is necessary to allow deer populations to increase toward management goals.”


Winter aerial surveys showed deer numbers were down from 2011 levels in the northern and eastern portions of the state, specifically units 1, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2K1, 2K2, and 3A1. Kreil said although deer are still below management objectives in 2A, 2F1 and 2F2, aerial surveys showed numbers were slightly above levels recorded in 2011 or 2012.


“The winter of 2012-13 was severe in the northern and eastern portions of the state, which will impede population recovery in those areas,” Kreil said. “Furthermore, high quality deer habitat continues to be lost statewide and will limit the potential for population recovery.”


Currently, all hunting units in the state are below management objectives except in 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 4F.


Out west, mule deer licenses in the badlands will decrease slightly this year. As was the case last year, no antlerless mule deer licenses are available in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F. This restriction applies to regular gun, resident and nonresident any-deer bow, gratis and youth licenses.


According to Kreil, the spring mule deer survey did show positive trends, with numbers up 15 percent over last year. “This modest increase indicates the mild winter of 2011 and no doe harvest in 2012 might be having a positive effect on the mule deer herd,” he added. “With the no-doe-harvest regulation remaining in place for 2013, there may be some reason for optimism concerning mule deer.”


Hunters are able to draw one license for the deer gun season and one for the muzzleloader season, and purchase an archery license. Like last year, there is no concurrent season and a hunter cannot receive more than one license for the deer gun season.


The number of licenses available for 2013 is 1,150 antlered mule deer, a decrease of 50 mule deer licenses from last year; 1,166 for muzzleloader, down 116 from last year; and 115 restricted youth antlered mule deer, a decrease of five from last year.


North Dakota’s 2013 deer gun season opens Nov. 8 at noon and continues through Nov. 24. Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader, and resident gratis and nonresident landowner seasons will be available May 13 through the Game and Fish Department’s website atgf.nd.gov. Also, paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state the week of May 13. The deadline for applying is June 5.


Bow hunters should note that both resident and nonresident archery licenses this year are available only through the department’s Bismarck office or website, or by calling (800) 406-6409. Archery tags will not be sold over the counter at license vendor locations in 2013.


Gratis and nonresident landowner applicants will want to take note of a new law passed recently by the state legislature. House Bill 1131 reduces the number of acres required to qualify from 160 to 150. In addition, gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline (June 5) will be issued any-legal-deer license. Applications received after the deadline will be issued based on licenses remaining after the lottery – generally only antlerless licenses remain.


HB 1131 also allows residents who turn age 12 in 2013 to receive an antlerless white-tailed deer license, and allows an individual who turns 14 this year to receive one deer license valid for the youth deer season. Previously, a young hunter had to turn the appropriate age prior to the end of the respective big game season.


Total deer licenses are determined by harvest rates, aerial surveys, deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

CRP sign up coming soon

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Producers interested in submitting bids to enroll land in Conservation Reserve Program acres have from May 20 through June 14. Applications received during the CRP signup period will be ranked against others according to the Environmental Benefit Index.

Kevin Kading, North Dakota Game and Fish Department private land section leader, said there are some EBI factors that producers can influence. “Game and Fish Department private land biologists and other conservation partners such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever can help producers find the best possible combination of factors that will positively influence their EBI score, which may increase their likelihood of being accepted into the program,” Kading said.

Game and Fish offers cost-share assistance and additional incentives if producers enroll their CRP into the department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program to allow walk-in access for hunting.

“New to the PLOTS program this year is Game and Fish will make arrangements with contractors to assist producers with land preparation, grass seeding and CRP management,” Kading said. This service is offered for producers who enroll CRP in PLOTS in Dickey, Ransom, Sargent, LaMoure, Burleigh, Emmons, McLean, Sheridan, Stark, Hettinger and Adams counties.

Producers should contact the county Farm Service Agency office, or the following biologists, for more information about the general signup and opportunities with PLOTS. A series of short videos with tips and advice on how producers can maximize their CRP offer, and information about PLOTS cost-share and grass seeding assistance can also be found on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

2012 North Dakota deer season stats

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2012 Deer Gun Season Summarized

North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 34,500 deer during the 2012 deer gun hunting season.

The State Game and Fish Department made available 65,150 deer gun licenses in 2012, and more than 95 percent were issued. Overall hunter success was 63 percent, and each hunter spent an average of 4.4 days in the field.

Randy Kreil, wildlife chief, said this past season’s hunter success rate bounced back from an all-time low of 51 percent in 2011. “The 63 percent clip is fairly good, but still below the long-term average of around 70 percent,” he added. “In addition, the number of days spent hunting is still higher than usual, which is expected with lower deer populations.”

Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 76 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 62 percent.

Mule deer buck success was 81 percent. No mule deer doe licenses were issued in 2012.

Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses almost exclusively harvest white-tailed deer. These buck and doe hunters each had a success rate of 64 percent.

The department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in the 2013 deer proclamation. These recommendations will be discussed at the upcoming Game and Fish public advisory board meetings, scheduled for the week of April 15-18. The proclamation will be sent to the governor’s office for approval in late April.

In addition to harvest rates and winter aerial surveys, the department monitors a number of other population indices to determine license numbers, including deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

Chronic wasting disease results

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Samples taken from North Dakota deer during the 2012 hunting season have all tested negative for chronic wasting disease, according to Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the State Game and Fish Department.

Last fall, samples for CWD testing were taken from more than 1,300 deer harvested by hunters in the western third of the state.

“As always, the success of our surveillance program could not be accomplished without the cooperative efforts of hunters, meat processors and taxidermists,” Grove said.

Since the Game and Fish Department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 23,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD. Three mule deer, one each in 2009, 2010 and 2011, taken from unit 3F2 in southwestern North Dakota tested positive. All three were within 15 miles of each other.

The hunter-harvested surveillance program annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state. The Game and Fish Department also has a targeted surveillance program that is an ongoing, year-round effort to test animals found dead or sick.

CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.

the BIG three seasons are set!

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Moose, Elk and Bighorn Sheep Seasons Set

North Dakota’s 2013 moose, elk and bighorn sheep proclamation is finalized and applications are available at the State Game and Fish Department’s website. The deadline for applying is March 27.

A total of 111 moose licenses are available in 2013, 32 fewer than last year.

Randy Kreil, Game and Fish Department wildlife chief, said a downward population trend in the northeastern portion of the state is of great concern. “Unit M1C will remain closed,” Kreil said, “and in addition, unit M4, which encompasses the Turtle Mountains, is also closed this year.”

In 2012, unit M4 had only seven moose licenses, Kreil added, with only two moose harvested.

Game and Fish is also making a couple of other changes designed to bolster the moose population. All licenses this year are for “any moose,” while in previous years some were specific to antlerless moose. “We think that the ‘any’ tags will protect the cow segment of the population,” Kreil said, “as records indicate most hunters choose to fill their ‘any’ tags with a bull rather than a cow.”

The moose season in units M8, M9 and M10 will open a week later than in previous years to avoid the peak of the rut. Data collected over the last year indicates a number of unbred cows were documented in those units, Kreil said, and opening the season a week later in October may improve breeding success by reducing disturbance during the peak of the mating season.

A total of 261 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, 40 fewer than last year.

The number of elk licenses in units E3 and E4 is reduced by 40 due to the successful population reduction effort by the National Park Service in Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s south unit. A total of 937 elk – 701 adult cows – were taken out of the park by the reduction effort, and an additional 363 elk were taken by licensed hunters in E3 and E4 during the last three hunting seasons. Based on a recent elk survey, the estimated number of elk in the park is below 200, Kreil said.

On the positive side, elk unit E1 has been expanded to include parts of the Turtle Mountains, due to a growing elk population largely attributed to animals migrating in from Canada.

The bighorn sheep season will have four licenses available, the same as last year. One license is available in units B1/B2, B3 and B4. In addition, one license is auctioned through the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. The bighorn sheep hunter drawing the license in units B1/B2 is eligible to hunt both units.

To apply online, access the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications will be available on the website (for printing) and at license vendors the week of March 11.

Bighorn sheep, moose and elk lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

North Dakota fisher season closed immediately

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Fisher Trapping Season Closed Immediately

North Dakota’s fisher trapping season is closed immediately. The 15th fisher was trapped Nov. 30, filling the predetermined quota on the fifth day of the season.


Only North Dakota residents were able to participate, with a season limit of one animal per trapper. The open area was east of U.S. Highway 281 and ND Highway 4.

signed, sealed and delivered the early goose season will open August 15

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Early Canada Goose Season Opens Aug. 15

North Dakota’s early Canada goose season is set and the season will open Aug. 15. The limits are 15 daily and 30 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.

Normal licensing requirements for the regular season, including a federal duck stamp, apply to the early season. Nonresidents who hunt in Benson, Ramsey, Towner, Sargent and Richland counties during the early season may do so without counting against their 14-day regular season license.

All migratory bird hunters must register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters who purchase a license through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at gf.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, will be 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.

The early season ends in the Missouri River zone Sept. 7, while the rest of the state closes Sept. 15. The Missouri River zone closes early to provide additional late season hunting opportunities by adding these days to the end of the regular season.

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

yes the 2012 deer lottery has been held

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Deer Lottery Held, Antlerless Licenses Remain

North Dakota’s deer gun lottery has been held and individual results are available online at the State Game and Fish Department’s website,gf.nd.gov.

More than 5,800 antlerless deer gun licenses remain. Only resident applicants who were unsuccessful in the first lottery can apply.

An option to apply online will be available July 23. Paper applications will be mailed to individuals in late July. The deadline for applying is Aug. 22.


Remaining Deer Gun Licenses

(B = Any Antlerless    D = Antlerless Whitetail)
























































2012 early Canada goose season limits could increase

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Increased Bag Considered for Early Canada Goose Season

The State Game and Fish Department is considering an option to increase the daily limit for the early Canada goose season from eight to 15, following recent action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations Committee.


The service regulations committee is allowing an increase in the bag limit from last year in response to recommendations from North Dakota and South Dakota to allow greater harvest on resident Canada geese. “A daily limit of 15 would give hunters an opportunity to take more birds when they are available,” said Randy Kreil, wildlife division chief for the Game and Fish Department. “We are looking at every option we can to increase hunter harvest of our resident Canada goose population.”


Game and Fish first held an early Canada goose season in 1999. Since then, the open area and season length have expanded.


In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized states to expand their resident goose management seasons into August.  While the season could open as early as Aug. 1, most landowners and hunters are comfortable with starting a couple of weeks after that, to allow for small grain harvest to open up stubble fields for hunting. In addition, weather conditions are generally more favorable for hunting as the month progresses.


Until last year, the daily limit in the early season was five, and last year Game and Fish increased the limit to eight, which under federal regulations was the maximum allowed during the September portion of the early season.


“Our resident goose population is at record levels,” Kreil said. “We understand that nearly doubling the early season daily limit isn’t going to double the harvest, but it certainly would help increase the harvest.”


The small game proclamation that will set season dates and limits for the early goose season will not be finalized until late July. The season is tentatively set to open Aug. 15.


Last year the early Canada goose season opened Aug. 13 and ran through Sept. 15, except in a special Missouri River zone where the season closed Sept. 8. The seven fewer early season days in the Missouri River zone are added to the end of the regular goose season in December.

A few answers to a few questions on the 2012 deer season

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2012 Deer License Questions and Answers

In past years, hunters have been able to receive more than one license that is valid during the deer gun season. Will that be the case this year?

No. The number of licenses remaining after the first drawing will be small, if any at all. Therefore, hunters can receive only one license for the deer gun season. If any licenses remain after the first and second lotteries, they will only be available to those who applied in the first lottery and still have not received a license, or for those who did not submit an application for the first lottery.


If I receive a deer gun license, will I still be able to receive a muzzleloader license or purchase an archery license?

Yes, hunters can draw one license for the deer gun season and one for the muzzleloader season, and purchase an archery license. However, there won’t be any additional antlerless deer licenses available this year, that in the past could be used during the archery or muzzleloader season in the unit designated on the license.


Can I use my deer gun license during the muzzleloader or archery season?

No. The deer gun license is valid for only the regular deer gun season. That option in past years was only available for second, third, or additional antlerless licenses.


I want a deer license this year so I want to increase my odds and apply for a doe license as a first choice. If I receive the license, will I lose my preference points?

Yes, preference points are based on your first choice. If you receive your first choice, you lose your preference points.


Can I use my gratis license to take a mule deer doe?

Gratis hunters whose land is located in 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F may not take a mule deer doe with their gratis license. Gratis hunters in all other units may take any deer, including mule deer does.


As a landowner, if I apply in the regular lottery for a buck license as my first choice and a doe for my second choice, and receive a doe license, can I still submit a gratis application to get a license to hunt a buck?

No. If you submit a regular lottery application and receive a deer gun license, regardless if it is for a buck or doe, you are not able to receive a gratis license, as only one deer gun season license per hunter is allowed this year.


Since only one deer gun season license is available this year, does that mean landowners can receive either a gratis license or a lottery license, but not both?

That’s correct. If a landowner applies for and receives a license in the regular lottery, he or she cannot also receive a gratis license. Landowners who apply in the regular lottery and are not drawn for a license can still receive a gratis license as long as there are unissued licenses.


I am a landowner, and often delay submitting a gratis license application until I know if I will have time to hunt deer. If I wait until later in summer to apply, will I still be able to get a gratis license?

Gratis licenses can be issued as long as licenses remain. However, with the dramatic reduction in licenses this year there is no guarantee that any licenses will be available after the initial lottery. Once all licenses are issued, Game and Fish is not able to provide further gratis licenses. Therefore, we suggest that landowners eligible for gratis licenses submit their application prior to the June 6 deadline to ensure receiving a license.