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Doug Leier: North Dakota hunting seasons will open as planned

The 2020 North Dakota pheasant hunting season opens Oct. 10. N.D. Game and Fish Department photo

West Fargo

The coronavirus pandemic has forced and encouraged us to make a number of adjustments over the last several months. Yet, with fall fast approaching, North Dakota’s hunting seasons — where social distancing is the norm — will open as planned.

Actually, the 2020 season has officially kicked off with the Aug. 15 opening of the early Canada goose management season.

Depending on the Canada goose zone in which you hunt, the first early season closure is Sept. 7 in the Missouri River zone. The other Canada goose zone closures are Sept. 15 in the western zone and Sept. 27 in the eastern zone.

But this column is more about openings than closures. We’re in that time of year when many weekends through early November have some sort of hunting or trapping season opener.


On Sept. 1, dove season opens.

Friday, Sept.4, marks the opening day for North Dakota archery deer hunters, and pronghorn license holders who want to hunt with a bow.

The first weekend in September is a “bye” weekend. Grouse and partridge seasons open Sept. 12. The two-day youth waterfowl season and the sandhill crane season opens Sept. 19. The youth deer season opens Sept. 18.

The following weekend, the resident waterfowl season opens Sept. 26, while swan license holders and nonresident waterfowl hunters can start Oct 3.

Pronghorn license holders who want to hunt with a rifle can hit the fields Oct. 2, and youth pheasant hunters open their season Oct. 3.

Pheasant hunters and those holding turkey tags can get started on Oct. 10.

Many trapping seasons open Oct. 24, and then two weeks later deer gun season starts Friday Nov. 6 at noon.

Hunters and trappers can find the North Dakota 2020-21 Hunting and Trapping Guide, which includes upland game, migratory game bird and furbearer hunting/trapping regulations and other information, by visiting the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov., Printed guides are available at vendor locations.


When it comes to changes, most 2020 season structures are similar to last year.

Noteworthy items include:

  • The daily limit of scaup is reduced from three to one.

  • The daily limit on pintails remains at one.

  • The prairie chicken and sage grouse seasons will remain closed due to low populations.

  • The statewide harvest limit on river otters is 20. Once the harvest limit is reached, the season will close immediately.

  • Veterans and members of the Armed Forces (including National Guard and Army Reserve) on active duty, who possess a resident hunting license, may hunt waterfowl Sept. 19-20.

  • In accordance with state law, nonresidents are not allowed to hunt on Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or Private Land Open To Sportsmen areas from Oct. 10-16.

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