•Grouse and Partridge Seasons Open Sept. 9
North Dakota’s popular hunting seasons for grouse and partridge will open Saturday, Sept. 9.
State Game and Fish Department upland game biologist R.J. Gross says hunters will likely see fewer sharptails and Huns compared to last year, while ruffed grouse numbers are up from 2016.
Gross said that hot, dry early summer weather likely reduced grouse production in many areas due to poor habitat conditions and low insect production.
“Numbers in the northeast show up a little better than other areas,” Gross said. “But yet, there will be localized areas with good chick survival in most parts of the state.”
Huns respond better to drought conditions, Gross said, and do better in dry years compared to sharptails. “Huns have generally been a bonus bird the past handful of years,” he added. “Hunters will still find pockets of decent hunting, but it may require more time in the field.”
Ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were up in the Turtle Mountains, and good numbers of broods were reported in the Pembina Hills.
Shooting hours for the upcoming season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.
Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.
For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2017-18 Small Game Hunting Guide.
•Hunters Reminded of Big Game Transport Rules
Big game hunters are reminded of requirements for transporting deer, elk and moose carcasses and carcass parts into and within North Dakota as a precaution against the possible spread of chronic wasting disease.
Hunters harvesting a big game animal this fall in North Dakota deer unit 3F2 cannot transport a carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of the unit unless it’s taken to a meat processor within five days of the harvest date. The head can be removed from the carcass and transported outside of the unit if it is to be submitted to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department for CWD surveillance purposes, or to a licensed taxidermist.
If the deer is processed in the field to boned meat, and the hunter wants to leave the head in the field, the head must be legally tagged and the hunter must be able to return to or give the exact location of the head if requested for verification.
In addition, hunting big game over bait is prohibited in deer units 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.
Hunters are prohibited from transporting into or within North Dakota the whole carcass, or certain carcass parts, of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family from areas within states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD in wild populations, or in captive cervids. Only the following portions of the carcass can be transported:
-Meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.
-Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
-Meat that has been boned out.
-Hides with no heads attached.
-Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
-Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
-Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.
-Finished taxidermy heads.
Hunters should refer to the 2017-18 CWD proclamation on the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, for other states that have had free-ranging deer, moose or elk diagnosed with CWD. Importation of harvested elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose or other cervids from listed areas is restricted.
•Agencies Prohibit Hunting over Bait
Hunters are reminded that hunting big game over bait is prohibited on all state owned or managed wildlife management areas, all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas, U.S. Forest Service national grasslands, and all North Dakota state school, state park and state forest service lands.
The governor’s proclamation relating to chronic wasting disease also includes a provision that prohibits hunting big game over bait on both public and private land in deer unit 3C west of the Missouri River, and all of units 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.
Hunting over bait is defined as the placement and/or use of baits for attracting big game and other wildlife to a specific location for the purpose of hunting. Bait, in this case, includes grain, seed, mineral, salt, fruit, vegetable nut, hay, any naturally derived scent or lure, or any other natural or manufactured food placed by an individual.
Bait does not include agricultural practices, gardens, wildlife food plots, agricultural crops, livestock feeds, fruit or vegetables in their natural location such as apples on or under an apple tree, or unharvested food or vegetables in a garden.
In addition, any firearms, equipment or accessories used by hunters on Private Land Open To Sportsmen acreage may not be left unattended without written permission of the property owner. This includes, but is not limited to, guns, blinds, stands, baits, scents and decoys. This means a hunter cannot place bait on PLOTS prior to or during the season and leave it there, unless permission has been granted by the landowner.
•PLOTS Guides Available
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen Guide for 2017 is now available online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, PLOTS guides are available at most vendors throughout the state.
The guide will feature about 737,000 PLOTS acres. Because the guide is printed in mid-August, some PLOTS tracts highlighted in the guide may have been removed from the program since the time of printing. There will also be some PLOTS tracts where the habitat and condition of the tract will have changed significantly. Conversely, Game and Fish may have added new tracts to the program after the guide went to press.
To minimize possible confusion, Game and Fish will update PLOTS map sheets weekly on its website.
The PLOTS guide features maps highlighting these walk-in areas, identified in the field by inverted triangular yellow signs, as well as other public lands.
The guides are free, and are available at license vendors in the state; by walk-in at the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office; and at district offices in Riverdale, Harvey (Lonetree), Williston, Dickinson, Jamestown and Devils Lake.
The guides are not available to mail, so hunters will have to pick one up at a local vendor, or print individual maps from the website.