Light goose hunters planning to hunt during North Dakota's spring season can purchase a license online at the state Game and Fish Department's website. The season opens February 15 and continues through May 18.
Residents can hunt during the spring season by having last fall's 2013-14 bird licenses. Otherwise, hunters will need to purchase either a 2014-15 combination license; or a small game, and general game and habitat license.
Nonresidents, regardless of age, need a 2014 spring light goose season license. The cost is $50 and the license is good statewide. Nonresidents who hunt the spring season remain eligible to buy a fall season license. The spring season does not count against the 14-day fall hunting season regulation.
A federal duck stamp is not required for either residents or nonresidents.
Licenses are available only from the Game and Fish Department's Bismarck office, the department's website, or by calling (800) 406-6409.
Availability of food and open water dictate when snow geese arrive in the state. Early migrants generally start showing up in the southeast part of the state in mid-to-late March, but huntable numbers usually aren't around until the end of March or early April. If this winter's mild weather conditions continue, light geese could arrive earlier than normal. However, movements into and through the state will depend on available roosting areas and the extent of the snow line.
Hunters must obtain a new Harvest Information Program registration number before venturing out into the field. The HIP number can be obtained online or by calling (888) 634-4798. The HIP number is good for the fall season as well, so spring hunters should save it to record on their fall license.
The Game and Fish Department will provide hunters with migration updates once geese have entered the state. Hunters can access the department's website, or call (701) 328-3697, to receive generalized locations of bird sightings in North Dakota until the season ends or geese have left the state. Migration reports will be updated periodically during the week.
The spring season is only open to light geese – snows, blues, and Ross's. Species identification is important because white-fronted and Canada geese travel with light geese. The season is closed to whitefronts, Canada geese, swans and all other migratory birds.
Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit. Electronic and recorded calls, as well as shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, may be used to take light geese during this season.
There are no waterfowl rest areas designated for the spring season. Hunters should note that private land within waterfowl rest areas closed last fall may be posted closed to hunting.
Nontoxic shot is required for hunting all light geese statewide. Driving off established roads and trails is strongly discouraged during this hunt because of the likelihood of soft, muddy conditions, and winter wheat that is planted across the state.
To maintain good landowner relations, hunters are advised to seek permission before hunting on private lands or attempting any off-road travel during this season. Sprouted winter wheat is considered an unharvested crop. Therefore, hunting or off-road travel in winter wheat is not legal without landowner permission.
All regular hunting season regulations not addressed above apply to the spring season. For more information on regulations refer to the 2014 Spring Light Goose Hunting Regulations and the 2013 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide.
State law requires permanent fish houses to be removed from North Dakota waters by midnight March 15.
Nancy Boldt, water safety coordinator for the State Game and Fish Department, said anglers should exercise caution because mild weather conditions can quickly result in unstable ice conditions.
"It is always important to check ice thickness, as warm temperatures with a high sun will rapidly deteriorate ice conditions this time of the year," Boldt said.
Fish houses may be used after March 15 if they are removed daily.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated 71,500 birds were in the state.
Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 40,700 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 12,000 were scattered on Nelson Lake. Lake Sakakawea, declared iced-over on December 14, had no geese on the lake itself. Szymanski said after summarizing the numbers, a total of 52,700 Canada geese and 18,700 mallards were tallied statewide.
"Conditions leading up to this year's survey were colder than normal, resulting in fewer birds in the state compared to the past couple winters," Szymanski said. "Most waterfowl were pushed from North Dakota just prior to Thanksgiving, with the exception of those using the Missouri River System."
According to Szymanski, early December cold temperatures and strong winds pushed most Missouri River birds from the state. Conditions remained the same through most of January, essentially causing all waters in the state to freeze by the time of the survey, with the exception of a few places with fast moving, or warm water.
Overall, Szymanski said although the counts are lower than those observed during the past couple years, numbers of birds remaining in the state were surprisingly large given the harsh weather conditions experienced thus far.
"Snow cover was probably borderline for allowing birds to feed without too much trouble," he added. "If more snow had fallen in December, this year's count would have been even lower."
North Dakota Game and Fish Department hunter education instructors are invited to attend regional workshops scheduled in 2014.
The workshops are March 15 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo and March 29 at the Riverside Holiday Inn in Minot.
Conference invites, workshop topics and registration information will be mailed out to all certified instructors. Instructors are asked to preregister by returning the registration form.
Hunter education instructors are men and women who volunteer their expertise and time. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer hunter education instructor should call John Mazur, hunter education coordinator, at 701-328-6316.
Hunters interested in applying for a 2014 moose, elk and bighorn sheep license should watch the Game and Fish website in early March for applications. The deadline for applying is March 26.
Applicants can apply online. Application forms will also be available at license vendors, county auditors and Game and Fish offices.
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.
The State Game and Fish Department's annual Earth Day awareness campaign is accepting entries for design of a 2014 Earth Day patch. North Dakota students ages 6-18 are eligible to participate. The deadline to submit entries is March 15.
The Game and Fish Department will announce a winner in three age categories – 6-9, 10-13, and 14-18. Each winner will receive a pair of 10x42 binoculars. The final patch design will be chosen from the three winners.
The winning design will be used on a patch given to members of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H clubs and any school participating in Earth Day cleanup projects on state-owned or managed lands in North Dakota in April and May.
The patch should incorporate some aspect of Earth Day – celebrated April 22 – or keeping N
orth Dakota clean. It must be round and three inches in diameter. There is a limit of five colors on the patch, and lettering must be printed. Name, address, age and phone number of the contestant must be clearly printed on the entry form. Only one entry per person is allowed.
North Dakota citizens with an interest in supporting wildlife conservation programs are reminded to look for the Watchable Wildlife checkoff on the state tax form.
The 2013 state income tax form gives wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to support nongame wildlife like songbirds and birds of prey, while at the same time contributing to programs that help everyone enjoy all wildlife.
The checkoff – whether you are receiving a refund or having to pay in – is an easy way to voluntarily contribute to sustain this long-standing program. In addition, direct donations to the program are accepted any time of year.
To learn more about Watchable Wildlife program activities, visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website.
Game and Fish has used some funds from the Watchable Wildlife tax checkoff to help gain access to tracts of private property that are unique and offer great wildlife viewing opportunities. A PLOTS sign with a binocular sign below it indicates that the land is not only open to hunters, but also to wildlife viewers.
The North Dakota Game Wardens Association has a $300 scholarship available for a graduating high school senior entering college in fall 2014 who enrolls in fisheries or wildlife management with an emphasis on law enforcement.
Applicants must be North Dakota residents and have maintained a 3.25 grade point average. The scholarship will be awarded to the student upon proof of enrollment in college.
Applications are available by contacting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6604; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications must be postmarked no later than May 9, 2014.
Anglers are reminded that North Dakota's darkhouse spearfishing season closes March 15.
Individuals who would still like to get out for the first time this year must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Registration is available through the Department's website, or through any Game and Fish Department office.
March 15 is also the deadline for anglers to remove permanent fish houses from state waters.
Some hunter education classes for 2014 are underway with more to follow.
To register for a hunter education course, students need to sign up online at the Game and Fish Department's website. Many classes will be added over the next several weeks, and the rest will be added throughout the year as they are finalized.
To register, click on the online services tab, and "online course enrollment" under the hunter education heading. Classes are listed by city, and can also be sorted by start date. To register for a class, click on "enroll" next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.
Those who do not have access to the Internet and want to sign up for a class can call the hunter education program in Bismarck at 701-328-6615.
Individuals interested in receiving a notice by email when each hunter education class is added can click on the "subscribe to news, email and text alerts" link found below the news section on the department's home page. Check the box labeled "hunter education class notification" under the education program updates.
State law requires anyone born after December 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old, and children can take the class at age 11.
Volunteer instructors for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department were recognized in January at the annual banquet in Bismarck.
Skip Balzer, Bismarck, received the Volunteer of the Year award. Balzer was mentioned for volunteering thousands of hours at rifle ranges and wildlife management areas, Family Fishing Days, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, state fair and fish camps.
Clair Huwe, Bismarck, was named Instructor of the Year. Huwe was recognized for his work with the Hooked on Fishing program, including Family Fishing Days, fish camps and the state fair.
Richard Peterson, Bismarck, received the Special Projects award. Peterson was instrumental in securing a new trailer for the Hooked on Fishing program, including writing the grant, purchasing the trailer, outfitting the inside and designing the wrap.
The following volunteers were honored for their years of service:
35 years – Karl Broeren, Northwood; Melvin Bruhn, Elgin; John Buresh, Towner; Richard Cheatley, Riverdale; Ken Fischer, Park River; Marlowe Grindler, Rogers; Chris Hansen, Napoleon; Colin Hoffert, Harvey; Ron Hunsberger, Larimore; Ronald Koenig, Elgin; Noel Podoll, Velva; Mike Voglewede, Northwood; and Kurt Wagner, Wimbledon.
30 years – Dale Brewster, Stanley; Donald Brewster, Bowbells; Clyde Grosz, Beulah; James Hastings, Courtenay; Don Meyer, Devils Lake; Mark Montgomery, Center; David Rensch, Garrison; and Rick Suckut, Bowdon.
25 years – James Boley, Minot; Dick Brewster, Washburn; Douglas Crosby, Williston; Ralph Danuser, Marion; Keith Domke, Jamestown; Myron Hanson, Souris; Rick Jorgenson, Devils Lake; Mike McEnroe, Bismarck; Todd Parkman, Hope; Kenneth Schwandt, Cavalier; Rod Stark, Kennedy; Gary Stefanovsky, Bismarck; and Gary Symanowski, Scranton.
20 years – Ottmar Barth, Mandan; Mary Barth, Mandan; Kevin Bishop, Kathryn; Patsy Crooke, Mandan; Roger Dienert, Hankinson; Darwin Gebhardt, Oakes; Terry Gray, Cooperstown; Garry Hillier, Thompson; Eddy Larsen, Larimore; Francis Miller, Mandan; Gregory Odden, Rugby; Rick Olson, Underwood; Rodney Parrill, Bottineau; Gene Paupst, Larimore; Duane Reinisch, Valley City; Allen Schirado, Bismarck; John Schlieman, Grand Forks; Melvin Sivertson, Bowman; and Mark Vickerman, Minot.
15 years – Adnan Aldayel, New Rockford; William Bahm, Almont; Jack Carlson, Mandan; Randy Christensen, Hettinger; Stan Cox, Jamestown; Mark Engen, Anamoose; Mark Entzi, Watford City; Gary Grosz, Kulm; Gary Hagness, Fordville; Matthew Herman, Ashley; Leon Hiltner, Wales; Morris Hummel, Coleharbor; Lynn Kieper, Bismarck; Steven Kilwein, Hettinger; Bruce Krabseth, Alamo; Jeffrey Lemer, Anamoose; Richard Liesner, Ray; Barry McCleary, Napoleon; Curt Miller, Tioga; Marvin Neumiller, Washburn; Loran Palmer, Wahpeton; Randy Palmer, Bismarck; Richard Petersen, Bismarck; Mark Pfeifer, Lidgerwood; Joel Puffe, Bismarck; Scott Rehak, Williston; Craig Roe, Kindred; Claude Sheldon, Park River; Trever Speidel, West Fargo; Shawn Tennyson, Fargo; Doug Thingstad, Jamestown; Clayton Thompson, West Fargo; Cindie Van Tassel, Breckenridge, Minn.; and Brian Vose, Devils Lake.
10 years – Craig Bjur, Fargo; Karl Blake, Park River; Benjilee Boll, Wahpeton; Robert Concannon Jr., Las Vegas, Nev.; Troy Enga, Berthold; Nathan Fitzgerald, Cooperstown; Gregory Gerou, Wahpeton; Judy Haglund, Garrison; Tim Hendrickson, Bisbee; Terry Kassian, Wilton; Steven Kukowski, Minot; Arlen Kurtti, Hazen; Kimberly Murphy, Williston; Dustin Neva, Hatton; Charles Oien, Elgin; John Paulson, Bismarck; Kent Reierson, Williston; Myron Schaff, Hebron; Scott Thorson, Towner; and Daniel Vollmer, Rolla.