From the North Dakota Game and Fish Department
-- North Dakota’s fall turkey season is set with 6,805 licenses available to hunters, according to Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department.
This year’s figure is down 17 percent from last year. However, an additional 1,300 licenses may be used in specific hunting units if turkey reproduction is exceptionally good this spring.
Harvest and population data in 2008 from hunting units in the southwest indicate turkey numbers have decreased due to last year’s poor production and chick recruitment. In addition, Kohn said aggressive hunting seasons since 2003 have started to stabilize turkey numbers in many units.
“These lower turkey numbers are actually what we have been trying to achieve, allowing for more landowner tolerance of turkeys yet providing hunting licenses for most applicants,” Kohn said.
Last winter’s above average snowfall combined with this spring’s rain is a benefit because of the improved habitat conditions in much of the state, Kohn said. “And if weather conditions remain warm and dry during the nesting and early brooding period, better production and increased brood survival can be expected this summer in many parts of the state,” he added.
Another change from last year is the number of hunting units. Since 2003, the state has been divided into 29 turkey units. This year, several smaller units in the eastern part of the state are combined into larger units, reducing the total number of units to 22 for this fall.
“This will allow hunters more area within a unit to pursue birds, and provides the department with a larger area to collect additional population data for better management options,” Kohn said.
An experimental hunting season will be reinstated for the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan. A maximum of 30 licenses will be available. These licenses will be available at the Game and Fish Department once a person first obtains a permit from USDA-ARS.
An experimental turkey bow hunting season will continue within the city of Bismarck to help control a growing population of birds in residential areas. A maximum of 25 licenses will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to individuals who are licensed to bow hunt deer within the city. These licenses will be available at the Game and Fish Department in Bismarck once a person has a valid city archery permit.
Hunting units 21 (Hettinger and Adams counties) and 53 (Divide and Williams counties) will remain closed to fall turkey hunting in 2009 because of low turkey numbers.
The fall wild turkey season extends from Oct. 10 through Jan. 10, 2010.
Prospective hunters, including gratis applicants, can apply online, or print out an application to mail, by June 12 at the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. Lottery applications will be available in mid-June from Game and Fish Department offices, county auditors and license vendors.
Applications are also accepted at the department’s toll-free licensing line, (800) 406-6409. A service fee is added for license applications made over the phone.
Applications for the fall season must be postmarked no later than July 1. Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply in the first lottery.
Nonresidents can apply for fall turkey licenses that are still available following the first lottery.