The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s May and July waterfowl surveys indicate hunters can expect a large fall flight similar to recent years. Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 24 for ducks, coots, mergansers and geese. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota Oct. 1.
Mike Johnson, game management section leader, said North Dakota’s fall flight – breeding ducks and the young they produce in the state – is based on data from the May breeding duck survey and the July brood survey. “This year’s production was down from last year, however, there are strong indications of an exceptional late hatch of ducks this year,” Johnson said. “Since our surveys have been completed, observers have been seeing large numbers of newly hatched ducks throughout the state.”
The brood index from the Game and Fish Department’s annual mid-July survey was down 26 percent from 2010, but was 19 percent above the long-term average. Average brood size was 7.7 ducklings, up 1.0 from last year. The long‑term average is 7.1 ducklings per brood. The water index observed during the survey was up 52 percent from last year and 105 percent above long-term.
Results from the May breeding duck survey indicated the duck index was down 9 percent from 2010, but exceeded the long-term average by 85 percent. Water conditions in May were up 31 percent from 2010 and 128 percent from the long-term average.
Resident hunters must possess a general game and habitat license and a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. In addition, hunters age 16 and older must have a small game license and federal duck stamp.
Nonresidents must purchase a nonresident waterfowl license, including the general game and habitat license, and certificate. Hunters age 16 and older must possess a federal duck stamp. Nonresident youth hunters from states that provide a reciprocal licensing agreement for North Dakota residents, qualify for North Dakota resident licenses. See the 2011 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide for details.
All migratory bird hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters who purchase a license through the state Game and Fish Department website or instant licensing telephone number (800-406-6409) can easily get HIP certified.
Otherwise, hunters must call (888) 634-4798, or access the department’s website, and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose season or the early Canada goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required only once per year in each state hunted.
Hunters should refer to the waterfowl hunting guide for season regulations including licensing requirements, dates, bag limits, season zones and nonresident hunting zones.