West Fargo North Dakota doesn't have many bighorn sheep, but vast appreciation and genuine curiosity from hunters and nonhunters alike more than compensates for lack of population. As evidence of that, in March 2018, a record 14,617 prospective hunters submitted an application for a North Dakota bighorn sheep license. With two lottery licenses eventually made available, that equates to odds of more than 7,000 to one for drawing a license.
West Fargo We are a few weeks away from the 2018 North Dakota regular deer gun season and there's a few key reminders for hunters to consider. Every year about this time, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds hunters to find and verify their deer license. While you might think every deer hunter would know exactly the location of their license, it's a good idea to verify it now. If it's where you placed it when it arrived in late summer, you're all set. If not, there's plenty of time to get a replacement.
West Fargo The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) guide was first published in its current magazine format, instead of a fold-out map, in 2000. The popular program at that time was just a few years old and included about 120,000 acres enrolled by private landowners to allow for public walking hunting access. From that point, the number of acres in the program grew rapidly, peaking at more than a million acres about a decade ago.
West Fargo Hunters have a legacy of providing biological data to wildlife managers to better help assess populations and shape hunting seasons and bag limits. One of those is the Harvest Information Program, or HIP. This is a survey method developed by states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a means to collect more reliable estimates of migratory bird harvests throughout the country.
West Fargo One of the unofficial duties of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's wildlife division chief is to set the stage for the fall seasons ahead in the annual hunting preview in "North Dakota Outdoors" magazine. That task currently falls to Jeb Williams, a Beach, N.D., native and a graduate of Dickinson State University. He has spent more than 20 years working in different roles with the the Game and Fish Department and took over as wildlife chief during the summer of 2014.
West Fargo September may seem like a month to focus on early upland game seasons like grouse and partridge, but we actually have three weekends in a row with waterfowl openers of one type or another lining up in the near future. North Dakota's youth waterfowl weekend is Sept. 14-15, the resident waterfowl opener is Saturday, Sept. 22, followed by the nonresident or regular waterfowl season starting Sept. 29.
West Fargo The North Dakota legislature established the general game license in 1967, and ever since then deer hunters have needed one, in addition to a deer tag, before they could legally hunt deer with rifle or bow. Eventually, the general game license was combined with the habitat stamp, so today it's called the general game and habitat license, and you need one to hunt any game species, except furbearers, in North Dakota unless you are a landowner hunting only on your own land.
West Fargo Whether it's early September archery deer hunting, dove hunting or late season pheasant hunting, North Dakota's 220,000 acres of state wildlife management areas are open to all hunters and there is no preference or priority given. And yet, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has a number of rules and regulations in place to balance and reduce potential conflicts, which can and do occur when areas attract crowds, or people try to preempt space.
West Fargo As a kid growing up in North Dakota a few decades ago, I don't really even recall the concept of catch-and-release fishing, let alone the intentional practice. "Eaters" were kept because that's why we were fishing. Today, many anglers still fish because they enjoy eating fish, but catch-and-release, especially of larger fish of just about any species, is common practice. This transition has surprised me a little bit. Most anglers will keep a few fish for eating, and maybe save a fish-of-a-lifetime to send to the taxidermist.
West Fargo I took a call from an angler the other day asking about a place to take his grandkids fishing. Nothing unusual about the call or my response. Sipping coffee early in the morning and talking about fishing is about as close to enjoying fishing without wetting a line as it gets.