Pronghorn Hunting Regulations
--- The following is from the 2020 season. This information will be updated for 2021 after the 2021 proclamation has been signed. ---
This guide is provided for informational purposes and is not a complete listing of regulations. For other specific information on regulations and laws, visit the Game and Fish Department website at www.gf.nd.gov or for North Dakota state laws go to http://www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/T20-1.html.
Table of Contents
Bow season restrictions: Bows only. Restricted to type of pronghorn and assigned unit described on license.
Gun or bow season restrictions: Legal firearms or bows. Restricted to type of pronghorn and assigned unit described on license.
Who May Apply - Only North Dakota residents are eligible for a license.
Hunter Education Requirement – Hunters born after December 31, 1961 must have passed a certified state or provincial hunter education course in order to purchase a North Dakota hunting license. Persons who hunt only on land they own or operate are exempt from this requirement.
Minimum Age – Applicants for a pronghorn lottery license must be at least 12 years of age on or before December 31, 2020. Anyone under age 15 afield with firearms must be under direct supervision (must be able to have unaided verbal contact) of a parent, guardian or adult authorized by their parent or guardian.
General - No person may transfer, give away, barter or sell an issued license.
Gratis – Gratis licenses are available to North Dakota residents who own, or lease for agricultural purposes and actively farm or ranch, at least 150 acres of land located in an open hunting unit. These licenses are valid only upon land described on the license. No other licenses are required for gratis.
Gun – Licenses are issued by a weighted lottery procedure after gratis licenses are deducted. Licenses are valid during the bow or gun seasons until filled.
- Resident 16 years of age and older ....................................... $30
- Resident under age 16 (at time of application)............................ $10
Other Licenses Required – In addition to the pronghorn license, hunters must also possess a $1 fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and a general game and habitat license ($20) or combination license ($50).
Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset except opening day. Hunters must cease any hunting activity, leave any stand or blind, and must be in the process of leaving the field at the close of shooting hours.
Orange Clothing Requirements
All pronghorn hunters, including bow hunters, are required to wear orange clothing while the pronghorn gun season is in progress. Legal orange clothing is a head covering and outer garment above the waistline of solid daylight fluorescent orange color totaling at least 400 square inches.
Hunting Big Game Over Bait
Placing of bait for any purpose is prohibited on Department wildlife management areas. Hunting over bait is defined as the placement and/or use of bait(s) for attracting big game and other wildlife to a specific location for the purpose of hunting. Baits include but are not limited to grains, minerals, salts, fruits, vegetables, hay or any other natural or manufactured foods. The designation does not apply to the use of scents and lures, water, food plots, standing crops or livestock feeds used in standard practices.
Hunting over bait is also not allowed on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas; U.S. Forest Service national grasslands; U. S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands; and all North Dakota state trust, state park and state forest service lands.
Transportation and Storage
License holders must accompany their game animal, or parts thereof, (excluding hide) during transportation, except that a permit for the transportation of game may be issued by the Department upon request. Game may be shipped by common carrier in receipt of proper bill of lading. A pronghorn carcass must be accompanied by the head to the final place of storage. No resident may ship big game or parts thereof (other than hides) out of the state without a permit from the Department. It is illegal to possess or transport another’s game animal or parts thereof (excluding hide) without the license holder accompanying or as otherwise permitted. Processed and packaged meat (cut/ground and wrapped meat) of legally harvested game may be gifted to another. Unprocessed, unpackaged meat of legally harvested game may be gifted as follows: 1) Prior to reaching the licensee’s permanent residence a transportation permit must be obtained and accompany the game meat. 2) After reaching the licensee’s permanent residence if accompanied by the carcass tag of the person who harvested the game. Commercial processors and common carriers (shipping companies, commercial meat processors and taxidermists) may possess any person’s legally taken possession limit of game. The carcass tag from the individual’s license shall accompany the carcass through processing and be returned to the individual to be kept until the meat is consumed or until March 31, 2021.
IMMEDIATELY after an animal has been killed, the hunter must indicate the date of kill by cutting out the appropriate month and day from the tag provided with the license, and attach it to the base of the horn on male pronghorn or a slit in the ear on female pronghorn, to prevent its removal. The tag, placed immediately upon the horn or slit in ear, shall remain with the horns or head until March 31, 2021. After the horns or head have been removed from the carcass, the carcass tag shall remain with the carcass or processed meat until consumed or until March 31, 2021. No person may reuse or attempt to reuse any tag issued. When any part of an animal is mounted, if the tag is removed from the horns or ear, the tag must be securely fastened to the back or bottom of the mount and remain there. Tags are not transferable.
Each license holder may take and possess one pronghorn as specified on the license. Party hunting is not allowed.
- Any pronghorn – a pronghorn of any age or sex.
- Doe or fawn only – a pronghorn without a black “cheek patch” or with horns shorter than its ears.
Party hunting is not allowed.
Firearms and Archery Equipment
Bow Season – A bow must be pulled, held and released by hand. Any release aid may be used providing it is hand operated, the shooter supports the draw weight of the bow, and the release is not attached to any part of the bow other than at the bowstring. A compound bow used for hunting pronghorn must have at least 35 pounds of draw at 28 inches or less draw length. Recurve and long bows used for hunting pronghorn must have at least 35 pounds of draw at 28 inches. Arrows must be at least 24 inches long, tipped with a metal broadhead, with at least two sharp cutting edges, and have a cutting diameter of at least 3/4 inch (i.e., not able to pass through a 3/4 inch ring). It is illegal to hunt big game with barbed arrows (an arrowhead with any fixed portion of the rear or trailing edge of the arrowhead forming an angle less than 90 degrees with the shaft). Broadheads with mechanical or retractable blades are legal. Telescopic sights, range finding devices, battery-powered or electronically lighted sights or other electronic devices attached to the bow, or the arrow, are not permitted, except a lighted nock and recording devices which do not aid in range finding, sighting or shooting the bow are permitted. Handheld range finding devices are legal. Arrows capable of causing damage or injury in excess of that inflicted by the cutting edges of the broadhead, are prohibited (e.g., explosive arrow points, arrows tipped with drugs or chemicals, and pneumatic or hydraulic shafts are illegal). No firearms, except handguns, shall be in the hunter’s possession during the pronghorn bow season. However, handguns may not be used in any manner to assist in the harvest of a pronghorn during the bow-only portion of the season.
Gun Season – Centerfire rifles of .22 to .49 caliber and muzzleloading rifles of .45 caliber or larger are legal for pronghorn. Centerfire rifles of .50 caliber or larger using smokeless powder with a case length of greater than 3.5 inches are prohibited. Rifled slugs, or patched round balls, of 20 gauge or larger are legal for shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns. Minimum barrel length of shotguns is 18 inches. Handguns must have a minimum barrel length of 4 inches and be .35 caliber or larger. Muzzleloading handguns must be .50 caliber or larger. In addition, any centerfire handgun designed to fire a legal rifle cartridge is also legal. All legal bow equipment as listed above is legal during the pronghorn gun season. Fully automatic firearms, full metal jacketed bullets which are nonexpanding, and altered projectiles are prohibited. Precharged pneumatic air guns, charged from an external high compression source such as an air compressor, air tank or an external hand pump are legal for pronghorn but must fire a projectile (excluding air bolts) of at least .35 caliber in diameter and at least 150 grains in weight with a minimum muzzle velocity of 600 feet per second.
Other Firearms/Archery Equipment Restrictions
- It is illegal to go afield with a firearm or bow and arrow while intoxicated.
- Firearms must be unloaded while traveling in or on a motordriven vehicle within the boundaries of any national park.
- Crossbows are not legal, except with a permit from the Game and Fish director. Contact the Department for additional information on crossbow regulations.
Aircraft, Motor-Driven Vehicles, Lights
- It is illegal to use all types of aircraft, manned or unmanned, for spotting game 72 hours prior to and during the hunting season. A licensee cannot hunt the same day they are airborne over their hunting unit with the exception of their scheduled passenger airline flight. It is illegal to drive, concentrate, rally, raise, stir up or disturb game with all types of aircraft, manned or unmanned.
- Motor-driven vehicles may not be used to pursue game.
- It is illegal to shoot with bow and arrow or firearm while in or on a motor-driven vehicle.
- Motor-driven vehicles may be used only on established roads or trails. Exception: After a pronghorn has been killed and properly tagged, a motor-driven vehicle may be used to make the retrieve by leaving the established road or trail and proceeding to the carcass by the shortest accessible route, and returning to the road or trail immediately by the same route. Motor-driven vehicles may not be used off established roads and trails for retrieval on state wildlife management areas, U.S. Forest Service national grasslands, U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands, federal waterfowl production areas, federal refuges, ND Department of Trust Lands, and any areas where motor-driven vehicles are restricted. Except for persons having a special disability permit, no person may use a motor-driven vehicle while in the process of hunting pronghorn, or aid another in the process of hunting pronghorn, including travel to and from the hunting location, unless the motor-driven vehicle is on an established road or trail.
- Established roads or trails do not include temporary trails made for agricultural purposes.
- Unless otherwise authorized under North Dakota Century Code, no person may carry a firearm with a cartridge in the chamber in or on a motor-driven vehicle while hunting big game animals. The entire cylinder of a revolver is considered the chamber, requiring the revolver to be completely unloaded. Handguns with removable magazines or clips must have the magazine or clip removed from the firearm if the magazine or clip contains any loaded shells. It is illegal to carry any muzzleloading firearm in or on a motor-driven vehicle with a percussion cap or primer on the nipple or powder in the flash pan.
- No person may use motor-driven vehicles on North Dakota Game and Fish Department Conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) property without permission from the landowner, or if the land is posted with signs granting vehicle access. These areas are available for walking public access through written agreements with private landowners. The boundaries of these properties are identified by large yellow triangular signs.
- It is illegal to engage in shining for big game with any artificial light for the purpose of locating or observing big game between sunset of one day and sunrise of the next. State law prohibits any harassment of big game animals that is not provided for in the law.
- The use of night vision equipment, electronically enhanced light gathering optics or thermal imaging equipment for locating or hunting big game is illegal. (Exception: Lighted nocks and recording devices which do not aid in range finding, sighting or shooting the bow are allowed for big game archery seasons.)
Areas Closed to Hunting
- Federal or state properties such as refuges, sanctuaries, military installations, parks or historic sites posted no trespassing and/or no hunting are closed to the hunting of pronghorn.
- School trust lands are open to nonvehicular public access, including hunting, unless posted with ND Department of Trust Lands signs. The only established trails on Department of Trust Lands available for public use are those that are signed with Game and Fish Department trail markers. See the ND Department of Trust Lands hunting page at www.land.nd.gov/public-access-information for additional information. When hunting near the boundaries of closed refuges, sanctuaries, military installations, parks or historic sites – make sure you are familiar with any retrieval restrictions that may apply.
Posting and Trespass
- Only the owner or tenant, or an individual authorized by the owner, may post land by placing signs giving notice that no hunting is permitted on the land. The name of the person posting the land must appear on each sign in legible characters. The signs must be readable from the outside of the land and must be placed conspicuously not more than 880 yards apart. As to land entirely enclosed by a fence or other enclosure, posting of signs at or on all gates through the fence or enclosure constitutes a posting of all the enclosed land.
- Hunting on posted lands without permission from the owner or tenant is illegal and punishable by suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for a period of at least one year.
- Hunting on posted land without permission can be prosecuted even if the land is not posted to the letter of the law.
- Any person may enter upon legally posted land (without a firearm or bow) to recover game shot or killed on land where he/she had a lawful right to hunt.
- It is illegal to hunt in unharvested cereal and oilseed crops, including sprouted winter wheat, alfalfa, clover and other grasses grown for seed, without the owner’s consent.
- It is illegal to deface, take down or destroy posting signs.
- Failure to close gates upon exit or entry is a criminal violation punishable by forfeiture of hunting licenses.
- It is illegal to hunt upon the premises of another within 440 yards of any occupied building without the consent of the person occupying the building. This does not prohibit hunting on land owned by neighbors (private or public) even if the land is less than 440 yards from the occupied building.
Road Rights of Way
Do not hunt on road rights-of-way unless you are certain that they are open to public use. Most road rights-of-way are under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.
No person shall kill or cripple any big game animal without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and retain the big game animal in his/her actual custody. No person shall waste, destroy, spoil or abandon the edible flesh of a big game animal at the place where taken and between that place and either (a) his/her permanent residence (b) a taxidermist (c) a common carrier or (d) a commercial processor.
“Edible flesh” (big game animals) is both front quarters, both hind quarters and back straps, but does not include meat ruined by bullet or natural causes.
Use of Animals
Animals – It is unlawful to use any animal except horses or mules as an aid in the hunting or taking of big game. State law allows the use of dogs in the recovery of big game – see N.D.C.C. 20.1-05-04 or contact the Department for additional information.
Tree Stands, Ground Blinds, and Trail Cameras – No person may construct or use a permanent tree stand or permanent steps to a tree stand on any state wildlife management area, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuge or waterfowl production area. Portable tree stands and portable steps, and natural tree stands may be used. Portable tree stands and portable steps are defined as those which are held to the tree with ropes, straps, cables, chains or bars. The use of nails, wire, screws or bolts to attach steps or a stand to a tree is prohibited on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas. Screw-in steps (allowed on state wildlife management areas) are those that are screwed into the tree by hand without the aid of any tools. Ladder type stands which lean against the tree are portable stands. A notched board placed in a tree crotch is a portable stand. Natural stands are those crotches, trunks, down trees, etc., where no platform is used. Tree stands do not preempt hunting rights in the vicinity of the tree stand. Tree stands, steps, ground blinds and trail cameras may not be put up on state wildlife management areas, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands or federal waterfowl production areas before August 20, 2020, and they shall be taken down by January 31, 2021. Tree stands, steps, ground blinds and trail cameras not removed by January 31, 2021, are considered abandoned property and are subject to removal and confiscation by the Game and Fish Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tree stands, steps, ground blinds and trail cameras left unattended on state wildlife management areas, federal waterfowl production areas and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands require an identification tag displaying the owner’s name, address and telephone number; or Game and Fish Department issued equipment registration number. Contact national wildlife refuge headquarter offices for individual refuge regulations. Portable tree stands, ground blinds and trail cameras on waterfowl production areas and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands may be used in accordance with state wildlife management area regulations.
Fire Danger Index
Fire danger indexes provide an indication of wildland fire potential.
Fire danger indexes are calculated considering temperature, humidity, wind speed, cloud cover and vegetative condition, and are classified as Low, Medium, High, Very High or Extreme.
Fires are more likely to occur on higher index days. Certain outdoor activities may be prohibited when a fire danger index is considered Very High or Extreme.
Hunters are asked to be aware of current fire danger indexes. Updated information is available through ndresponse.gov, or from a county sheriff’s office.
This program encourages reporting of wildlife violations. Callers can remain anonymous if they prefer, and rewards range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the nature and seriousness of the crime.
Call 701-328-9921. Call this number only to report game and fish violations. The reward fund is supported by private donations. If you wish to donate to the RAP program, tax deductible contributions can be sent to RAP, Box 1091, Bismarck, ND, 58502-1091.
2020 Pronghorn Gun Hunting Units
Licenses Available by Unit
Licenses are valid during both the gun and bow seasons until filled.
- Unit 1-A – 110 any pronghorn, 30 doe/fawn
- Unit 1-D – 150 any pronghorn
- Unit 2-A – 90 any pronghorn, 30 doe/fawn
- Unit 2-B – 70 any pronghorn
- Unit 3-A – 25 any pronghorn
- Unit 3-B – 100 any pronghorn
- Unit 4-A – 325 any pronghorn, 100 doe/fawn
- Unit 4-C – 50 any pronghorn
- Unit 5-A – 90 any pronghorn, 25 doe/fawn
- Unit 6-A – 160 any pronghorn, 25 doe/fawn
- Unit 7-A – 80 any pronghorn, 25 doe/fawn
- Unit 8-A – 55 any pronghorn
- Unit 10-A – 40 any pronghorn
- Unit 11-A – 110 any pronghorn, 25 doe/fawn
- Unit 13-A – 75 any pronghorn
As per N.D.C.C. 20.1-05.1-01, one additional pronghorn license is allocated to the North Dakota Hunter Educators Association and two to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation. In addition, N.D.C.C. 20.1-05.1-02 allows for not more than two additional licenses to other eligible organizations. These licenses are valid for residents only and for any pronghorn in any open unit.