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ND Deer Season Questions and Answers

by NDGFD


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 call the Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays, or access the hunting and trapping link at the department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

What licenses do I need for deer gun season? A fishing, hunting, and furbearer certificate, the general game and habitat stamp or a combination license, and the deer license. Gratis license holders need only the gratis license.

Can I use my gratis license to take a mule deer doe? Only if your license is valid in a unit other than 4A, 4B and 4C.

I shot a deer in Unit 3F2. What field dressing restrictions must I follow? Hunters cannot transport a carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of the unit unless it’s taken to a state-inspected meat processor within five days of the harvest date. In addition, the head can be removed from the carcass and taken to a licensed taxidermist or provided to Game and Fish for CWD testing. 

I received a lottery license, and I own land in another unit. Can I hunt on my land in the other unit with my lottery license? Only if the unit in which your land is located adjoins the unit in which you have the lottery license.

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 – by calling 701-328-6300 or printing it off the website at gf.nd.gov – or from a county auditor. 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.

Can hunters age 14 or 15 (and qualifying 13 year olds) 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? During the regular deer gun season you must wear orange. During the muzzleloader season, however, bowhunters do not need to wear orange.

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 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 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 on 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. However, off-trail driving is prohibited in all circumstances on state wildlife management areas, U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands, national wildlife refuges, national grasslands, federal waterfowl production areas and state school land.

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.

What if I am going to take my deer head to a taxidermist and meat to a butcher shop? How do I keep the tag with it all? The tag should remain with the head and the carcass tag should remain with the meat.

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 use a bow to fill my regular deer gun license? Yes. You may use any legal firearm or bow during the regular deer gun season.

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.

What licenses do I need to hunt on an Indian reservation? If you will be hunting within the reservation and hunting exclusively on Indian lands, only a reservation license is required and tribal regulations apply. If you will be hunting on land owned in fee-title by a non-Indian within the reservation, a state license is required and all state laws, licenses and regulations apply.