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Many species of fish, birds, small game and big game can be found in North Dakota. North Dakota, with its National Wildlife Refuges and Management Areas, as well as the spacious plains and prairies, is the perfect haven for hunters, trappers and fishermen.

The drastic season changes in North Dakota prompt birds to migrate through the state each spring and fall, creating a bird hunter’s paradise. The fall season also gives hunters waterfowl and big game hunting seasons. The cold winter months don’t offer much for hunting, but ice fishermen come from miles around to ice fish in the frozen lakes and winters of North Dakota.

Speaking of fishing, this great sport can be enjoyed year-round in North Dakota! From spring to fall, anglers catch a variety of fish in the state’s rivers, lakes, dams and other bodies of water. The winter ice fishing also rewards anglers with prize catches.

Whether you are a resident of North Dakota, are planning to become a resident of North Dakota or are just visiting the area, there are hunting and fishing options available to you in North Dakota.


Though North Dakota is popular for bird watching and fishing, the possibilities for hunting in the state are practically endless. Whether you enjoy hunting waterfowl, birds, large game, or furbearers, more than likely you can hunt for it in North Dakota. Guns, bows and traps are used throughout the state, depending on your preference.

Waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is widespread, and includes many species of ducks and geese, as well as the tundra swan. Hunting season for ducks and geese normally begins in the end of September, and so does that for the tundra swan.

While anyone can get a license to go hunting for ducks and geese, tundra swan licenses are issued by lottery only, to both residents and nonresidents. The application fee to receive a license is $5.00 for residents and $25.00 for nonresidents. If an applicant is not chosen to get a license, they will receive a refund.

Residents can hunt ducks and geese throughout the season in a number of areas, but nonresidents are given specific zones in which they can hunt. In 2005, there were three zones in North Dakota that allowed nonresidents to hunt, two of which had limits on the number of days they would allow the nonresidents to hunt there.

Bird species that are hunted in North Dakota include sharp-tailed grouse, ring-necked pheasant, Hungarian partridge, ruffled grouse, sage grouse, prairie grouse and wild turkeys.

Bird hunting is normally done in the fall, beginning in September with the sharp-tailed grouse. Just after the sharp-tailed grouse season comes the ring-necked pheasant season, which is the most popular game bird in North Dakota. The other bird species mentioned are also hunted in the fall season.

Rules for hunting birds state that you must leave one leg, foot or the fully feathered head on all pheasants. Heads of the Hungarian partridge and grouse must also be kept attached during transport. The reason for this is because the male species of this bird are the only ones that are allowed to be hunted, so you must leave the head on so authorities will know it was the male bird of the species that you have in your possession.

Species of big game that are hunted in North Dakota are white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, elk and moose. For big game, hunting is allowed with either a bow or a gun, with different seasons being offered for each weapon.

Bow hunters begin hunting white-tailed deer and mule deer beginning in late August or early September, and ending in the end of December. They can begin hunting for pronghorn in late August or early September, with the season ending in mid-October.

The guns season for pronghorns and deer begins a bit later, with pronghorn gun season beginning in the end of September and deer gun season beginning the beginning of November.

Bighorn sheep, elk and moose seasons are subject to change. For more information on these species, you can contact the Game and Fish Department at (800) 435-5663.

Furbearer and non-game hunting can be done year-round with a variety of species. Fox, coyote, raccoon, badger, rabbit and beaver species can be hunted year-round. Prairie dogs can also be hunted throughout the year.

If you are a North Dakota resident and are interested in hunting or trapping furbearers, residents ages 16 and older will need a furbearer stamp. If you are a nonresident, you will need the nonresident furbearer and non-game license to hunt or trap fox and coyote. If you are only interested in the prairie dog, rabbit and ground squirrel species, you will only need to purchase the nonresident non-game hunting license.

If you want to hunt in North Dakota, whether you are a resident or a nonresident, you must attend and pass a state-certified hunter education course before you can purchase a state hunting license. When you pass this course, you will be given a hunter certification card, which must be presented upon the time of purchasing your license (or the certification number must be provided if you are a nonresident applying by mail.)

Fees for resident hunting are as follows:
The initial Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate (on which you will affix all of your hunting licenses and stamps) will cost $1.00. After that, fees for various animal species vary. A Small Game stamp is $6.00, General Game and Habitat is $13.00, Furbearer is $7.00, Deer Gun or Deer Bow is $20.00, Youth Deer Bow or Youth Deer Gun (for hunters under 16 years old) will cost $10.00, Pronghorn Gun or Pronghorn Bow will be $20.00, Youth (under 16 years old) will cost $10.00, Spring or Fall Turkey will be $8.00, and a Sandhill Crane permit is $5.00. If you are an avid hunter, you will probably want to purchase the Resident Combination License for $32.00, which is available for hunters 16 years and older and includes fishing, small game, general game and habitat, and furbearer license.

Nonresident prices for hunting in North Dakota are as follows:
The initial Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate (on which you will affix all of your hunting licenses and stamps) will cost $2.00. Once you have that certificate, additional license costs will vary. A Small Game stamp is $85.00, General Game and Habitat is $13.00, Waterfowl is $85.00, Statewide Waterfowl is $125.00, Spring Light Goose (if available) is $50.00, Deer Gun is $200.00 with a $5.00 application fee, Antlerless Whitetail (if available) is $50.00, Deer Bow and Pronghorn Bow are $200.00, Furbearer and Non-game (including fox, coyote, prairie dogs and rabbits) is $25.00, Non-game License (including prairie dogs and rabbits) is $15.00, and a Sandhill Crane license is $5.00.

Before you go hunting, make sure you are familiar with the areas and ensure you are not hunting in any areas where you are not allowed. Make sure you are hunting in publicly allowed areas, unless you have permission from the private landowner.

For more information about North Dakota’s hunting rules and regulations, contact the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at (800) 435-5663.


The waters of North Dakota produce some of the best fishing in the country, and fishing is a sport enjoyed by residents and visitors of North Dakota each year. The Upper Missouri River, Lake Sakakawea, Central Missouri River, Lake Oahe, Devils Lake, and the Red River of the North are the main areas frequented by fishermen each year.

The Upper Missouri area begins at the border of North Dakota and Montana and continues until the river runs into Lake Sakakawea. Joined by the Yellowstone River at the border, this river is home to sauger, northern pike and catfish.

Lake Sakakawea, located just south of Williston, attracts several species of fish, especially near the Garrison Dam area of the lake. Walleye, northern pike, Chinook salmon, white bass, yellow perch, crappie, sauger, rainbow trout and brown trout are found in these waters. The salmon stay in the lower portion of the lake, where the waters stay cooler. The lake has more than 1,300 miles of shoreline, and almost all of it is publicly owned, so this lake is a very popular fishing spot.

The Central Missouri River flows from Garrison Damn into Lake Oahe south of Bismarck and Mandan. In the river just below the dam, the area is called the Garrison Damn Tailrace and is one of the best places to fish in North Dakota. Chinook salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout and cutthroat trout caught here have given state record honors to the anglers who caught them. Walleyes are found throughout this area of the River, running mostly in the spring and fall seasons.

Lake Oahe covers 60 miles of North Dakota and 120 miles of South Dakota, ending at the Oahe Dam in Pierre, South Dakota. North Dakota’s portion of this lake has a fishery of northern pike and walleye, along with the occasional catch of crappie, catfish and white bass.

Devils Lake is the largest lake in North Dakota, and it has the fish population to match. Northern pike, walleye, white bass and crappie are caught on the lake year-round, though anglers must go ice fishing in the winter months to get to these fish. Perch are also prevalent in the Devils Lake.

The Red River of the North joins the Ottertail and Bois de Sioux Rivers near Wahpeton, on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. This river is one of the best rivers in the country for catching catfish.

Throughout North Dakota, there are many other area lakes, springs, dams, rivers and streams. No matter where you are in the state, you more than likely will be able to find a hot public fishing spot. Contact the Game and Fish Department at (800) 435-5663 for more information.

Resident fishing fees for 2006 are as follows: The initial Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate (to which any purchased licenses and stamps will be affixed) is $1.00. An individual season fishing license for anyone age 16 or older is $10.00. A husband and wife couple can purchase a season license for $14.00. Senior Citizens (age 65 and older) can buy a season license for $3.00 and a Paddlefish Tag (limit 1 fish – good for all ages) is $3.00. The above prices are good for the entire year.

Nonresident fishing fees for 2006, though more expensive than resident fishing fees, are still very affordable in North Dakota. The initial Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate (to which any purchased licenses and stamps will be affixed) is $2.00. An individual season fishing license for anyone age 16 or older is $35.00. A husband and wife couple can purchase a season fishing license for $45.00. An individual 7-day license is $20.00, an individual 3-day license is $15.00, and a Paddlefish Tag (limit 1 fish – good for all ages) is $7.50.

Residents and nonresidents under 16 years old do not need a fishing license, if they are accompanied by an adult who has a valid fishing license.

Depending on the area of North Dakota where you are fishing, and the type of fish you are catching, various size and possession limits do apply. Before you go fishing in North Dakota, be sure you are aware of local limits and regulations. You can normally get a copy of recent area fishing regulations from wherever you purchase your license, or by contacting the Game and Fish Department office.

For a complete hunting and fishing guide that will include tips, licensing instructions and information about hunting and fishing regulations in North Dakota, contact the Game and Fish Department at (800) 435-5663.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Main Office
100 North Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 58501-5095
E-mail: ndgf@state.nd.us
Toll-free Phone: (800) 435-5663
Local Phone: (701) 328-6300
Fax: (701) 328-6352

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