The deadline is months away, but now is the time to frame the perfect photograph for a contest that will determine the cover of the 2015 Private Land Open To Sportsmen guide.
From end-of-day hunting shots, to scenic action or landscape shots, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department wants to feature hunter photos on the 2015 PLOTS cover and elsewhere that showcase North Dakota’s strong hunting heritage.
The department’s free PLOTS guide, which highlights walk-in hunting areas across the state, was first published in the late 1990s.
Results from this summer’s bighorn sheep survey indicate the population in western North Dakota is lower than last year.
State Game and Fish Department big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the July-August survey showed a minimum of 287 bighorn sheep, down 4 percent from 2013. Results revealed 82 rams, 153 ewes and 52 lambs.
Motorists are reminded to watch for deer along roadways, especially this time of year, because juvenile animals are dispersing from their home ranges.
October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists are advised to slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer along roadways. Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates good to excellent wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout most of the state.
Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said the northwest has a near-record number of wetlands, while the rest of the state has wetland numbers similar to, or above the 2003-13 average.
Out-of-state hunters are reminded that state law does not allow nonresidents to hunt on North Dakota Game and Fish Department owned or managed lands during the first week of the pheasant season.
Private Land Open to Sportsmen acreage and state wildlife management areas are open to hunting by resident hunters only from Oct. 11-17. Nonresidents, however, can still hunt those days on other state-owned and federal lands, or private land.
North Dakota Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand has appointed 15-year department employee Jeb Williams as chief of wildlife. Williams succeeds Randy Kreil, who announced his retirement in August.
“Jeb has a proven track record in all of his capacities with the department,” Steinwand said. “This, along with his communication skills, was a large part in his selection.”
Williams has been the assistant wildlife chief since 2011. He has also held biologist and wildlife resource management supervisor positions.
Aquatic nuisance species surveillance efforts along the Red River in eastern North Dakota have again detected the presence of zebra mussel young at Wahpeton.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department ANS coordinator Fred Ryckman said zebra mussel larvae were also present in the same area in both 2010 and 2011, but were not found in the past two years.
North Dakota’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program can now accept donations of Canada geese (in addition to snow, blue and Ross's geese) taken during the regular waterfowl hunting season.
Previously, the program could accept snow, blue and Ross’s geese during the regular season, but Canada goose donations were only allowed during the early Canada goose season.
This new opportunity for hunters to donate goose meat is part of a two-year pilot program between the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The MacLean Bottoms public shooting range located 15 miles south of Bismarck is open following a major upgrade effort.
The renovated shooting range includes seven benches at the 200-yard rifle range, 15 benches at 100 yards, nine benches at 25 yards and a shotgun range. Each range includes handicap accessible parking and benches.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife resource management supervisor Bill Haase said while minor delays due to wet conditions prolonged completion of the project, the major improvements were worth the wait.
North Dakota’s two-day youth pheasant season is Oct. 4-5. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger may hunt roosters statewide.
Resident youth hunters, regardless of age, must possess a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. Otherwise, nonresident youth hunters must purchase a nonresident small game license.
Waterfowl hunters are reminded to do their part in preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species into or within North Dakota.
Waterfowl hunters must remove plants and plant fragments from decoys, strings and anchors; remove plants seeds and plant fragments from waders and other equipment before leaving hunting areas; remove all water from decoys, boats, motors, trailers and other watercraft; and remove all aquatic plants from boats and trailers before leaving a marsh or lake. In addition, hunters are encouraged to brush their hunting dogs free of mud and seeds.
North Dakota’s roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds and number of broods are up statewide from 2013.
Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey shows total pheasants are up 30 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were up 37 percent, while the average brood size was down 4 percent. The final summary is based on 253 survey runs made along 106 brood routes across North Dakota.