Fall Mule Deer Survey Completed
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s fall mule deer survey indicated another year of good fawn production.
Biologists counted 2,218 mule deer in the aerial survey in October. The ratios of 41 bucks per 100 does, and 84 fawns per 100 does, were similar to last year.
“Overall, there was good fawn production and stable buck-to-doe ratios at or near their long-term averages,” said Bruce Stillings, big game management supervisor, Dickinson.
The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306.3 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists also survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine deer abundance.
Early Ice Awareness for Hunters, Anglers
Hunters and anglers are reminded to be cognizant of early ice conditions before traveling onto and across North Dakota waters.
Game and Fish Department education coordinator Brian Schaffer said there haven’t been enough days when the high temperature has remained below freezing to produce stable ice. “There are already small and mid-sized waters that show the appearance of safe ice, but looks can be deceiving,” Schaffer said.
And with deer season opening Friday, Nov. 8 at noon, an estimated 60,000 hunters will be in the field the next two weeks. Schaffer said even though deer might be able to make it across smaller waters, it doesn’t mean hunters can.
“Hunters walking the edges will not find the same ice thickness in the middle, as the edges firm up faster than farther out from shore,” Schaffer added, while urging hunters to be cautious of walking on frozen stock ponds, sloughs, creeks and rivers.
A few reminders include:
Snow insulates ice, which in turn inhibits solid ice formation, and hides cracks, weak and open water areas.
Ice can form overnight, causing unstable conditions. Ice thickness is not consistent, as it can vary significantly within a few inches.
Avoid cracks, pressure ridges, slushy or darker areas that signal thinner ice. The same goes for ice that forms around partially submerged trees, brush, embankments or other structures.
Anglers should drill test holes as they make their way out on the lake, and an ice chisel should be used to check ice thickness while moving around.
Daily temperature changes cause ice to expand and contract, affecting its strength.
The following minimums are recommended for travel on clear-blue lake ice formed under ideal conditions. However, early in the winter it’s a good idea to double these figures to be safe: 4 inches for a group walking single file; 6 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle; 8-12 inches for an automobile; and 12-15 inches for a pickup/truck.
While heading onto North Dakota lakes this winter, Schaffer offers these life-saving safety tips:
Wear a personal flotation device and carry a cell phone.
Carry ice picks or a set of screwdrivers to pull yourself back on the ice if you fall through.
If someone breaks through the ice, call 911 immediately. Rescue attempts should employ a long pole, board, rope, blanket or snowmobile suit. If that’s not possible, throw the victim a life jacket, empty water jug or other buoyant object. Go to the victim as a last resort, but do this by forming a human chain where rescuers lie on the ice with each person holding the feet of the person in front.
To treat hypothermia, replace wet clothing with dry clothing and immediately transport victim to a hospital.
Deer Season Questions and Answers
Every year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department receives questions from deer hunters who want to clarify rules and regulations. Some common questions are listed below. Hunters with further questions are encouraged to visit big game, white-tailed and mule deer, under the hunting link at the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov., or call 701-328-6300, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays.
What licenses do I need for deer gun season? A general game and habitat stamp or a combination license, and the deer license. Gratis license holders need only the gratis license. The deer license is mailed after the general game and habitat license is purchased.
I have a concurrent season license. When can I use it? The license can be used during the archery season with a bow; the deer gun season with a bow, rifle or muzzleloader; or the muzzleloader season with a muzzleloader. You are restricted to the type of antlerless deer printed on the license and must stay in the unit to which the license is assigned.
I can’t find my deer license. What should I do? You must obtain an application for a duplicate license from the Game and Fish Department. Fill out the form, have it notarized and return it to the Department along with a fee. You may not hunt without the deer license in your possession. If you find the original license after receiving a replacement, you must return the original to a local game warden or Game and Fish office.
Can hunters age 13, 14 or 15 (in 2019) with a youth season license who did not harvest a deer during the youth season, hunt the regular deer gun season with this license? Yes, but you are subject to the restrictions listed on the license.
I was unsuccessful in filling my mule deer buck license in a restricted unit during the youth season. Can I hunt the remainder of the state during the regular gun season? No. You are restricted to the same unit as during the youth season.
I shot a deer, but it is rotten. What can I do? You must take possession of the animal by tagging it. A license only allows you the opportunity to hunt. It is not a guarantee to harvest a deer, or to the quality of the animal.
What should I do if I find a wounded deer? Contact a game warden. Do not shoot the deer unless you want to tag it or are instructed by the warden to do so.
Is camouflage blaze orange acceptable for the deer gun season? No. You must wear both a hat and outer garment above the waistline totaling at least 400 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange.
I hunt with a bow. When do I have to wear orange? Only during the regular deer gun season.
Can I hunt road rights-of-way? Do not hunt on road rights-of-way unless you are certain they are open to public use. Most road rights-of-way are easements under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.
Can I hunt on a section line if it is posted on both sides? No. If the land is posted on both sides, the section line is closed to hunting, but is still open for travel.
Can I hunt over bait on private land? It is unlawful to hunt over bait, or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, in deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of U.S. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1 and 3F2.
What if I want to have a mount made by a taxidermist and take the meat to a butcher shop? How do I keep the tag with it all? The tag should remain with the antlers and the carcass tag should remain with the meat.
I shot a deer in a unit that has carcass transportation restrictions (3A1, 3B1, 3F2). What field dressing restrictions must I follow? Hunters cannot transport the whole carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of the unit. Exceptions: meat that has been boned out; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately; hides with no heads attached; skull plates with antlers attached having no hide or brain tissue present; intact skulls with the hide, eyes, lower jaw and associated soft tissue removed, and no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; antlers with no meat or tissue attached; upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories; and finished taxidermy heads. However, hunters can transport the whole deer carcass between units 3A1 and 3B1 during any open deer season.
Can I retrieve a wounded deer from posted land? If the deer was shot on land where you had a legal right to be and it ran onto posted land, you may retrieve it. However, you may not take a firearm or bow with you. The department suggests contacting the landowner as a courtesy prior to entering.
What if the landowner says I cannot retrieve a deer from posted land that was shot on land where I had a right to be? Contact a game warden.
Can I drive off a trail on private land to retrieve a deer? Unless prohibited by a landowner or operator, you may drive off-trail on private land once a deer has been killed and properly tagged. You must proceed to the carcass by the shortest accessible route and return to the road or trail by the same route.
Can I transport someone else’s deer? Yes, but you will need a transportation permit from a game warden. The license holder, person transporting the animal, and the carcass must be presented to the game warden before the permit is issued.
May I carry a pistol when I am hunting with a deer rifle? Yes, but the handgun must meet minimum requirements listed in the deer hunting regulations to be legal for taking deer.
Can I carry both bow and gun afield during deer gun season if I have both licenses? Yes, but only if you are going to fill your gun license. No firearms, except handguns, may be in the hunter’s possession while hunting with a deer bow license. However, handguns may not be used in any manner to assist in the harvest of a deer with an archery license.