North Dakota Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

Hunting Season Dates and Regulations for Deer in Various Forms

Deer Bow Season

  • Duration: September 1 (12 noon CT) - January 7
  • Location: Statewide
  • Key Restrictions:
    • Special Herd Reduction Deer Bow Seasons apply.
    • During the regular gun season, all bowhunters and those accompanying apprentice license holders must wear orange clothing.
    • Nonresidents must adhere to the species of deer specified on their license, while residents can hunt any deer.

Deer Gun Season

  • Duration: November 10 (12 noon CT) - November 26
  • Location: All units
  • Key Restrictions:
    • Hunters are limited to the type of deer and unit as described on their license.
    • Mandatory wearing of orange clothing for all hunters, including those accompanying apprentice and youth license holders.
    • Notable exception: white-tailed deer hunting in units 4B, 4C, 4D, and 4E (refer to the map on the back for unit descriptions).

Youth Deer Season

  • Duration: September 15 (12 noon CT) - September 24
  • Location: Statewide
  • Key Restrictions:
    • Age-specific legal catches:
      • Ages 11-13 (in 2023): Only antlerless white-tailed deer.
      • Ages 14-15 (in 2023): Any deer is legal.
    • In units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, and 4F, special licenses are needed for hunting antlered mule deer.
    • Youth hunters must be under the direct supervision of an adult, who is not allowed to carry a firearm or bow during the youth season.
    • Orange clothing is a requirement for both youth hunters and their mentors.

Muzzleloader Season

  • Duration: December 1 (12 noon CT) - December 17
  • Location: Statewide
  • Key Restrictions:
    • Restricted to antlered or antlerless white-tailed deer as specified on the license.
    • No unit restrictions, but orange clothing is mandatory.

Special Provisions for Youth Deer Licenses

  • Antlerless White-tailed Deer (Ages 11-13 in 2023):
    • Restricted to antlerless white-tailed deer, valid statewide.
    • If unsuccessful in the youth deer season, the license is also valid during the regular deer gun season.
  • Youth Deer (Ages 14 and 15 in 2023):
    • Restricted youth antlered mule deer licenses are limited in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, and 4F.
    • Regular youth licenses are valid statewide for any deer (except antlered mule deer in specified units) and are not limited.
    • If unsuccessful in the youth deer season, these licenses also apply during the regular deer gun season.

Hunting Hours Regulations

General Hunting Hours

  • Duration: 30 minutes before sunrise (with the exception of opening day) to 30 minutes after sunset.
  • Important Compliance Notes:
    • At the end of the designated shooting hours, all hunting activities must cease.
    • Hunters are required to leave their stands or blinds.
    • By the close of shooting hours, hunters should be actively in the process of exiting the field.
    • It's crucial for hunters to adhere to these timings to ensure legal compliance and maintain safety standards.

Licensing Requirements for Different Deer Hunting Seasons

Deer Bow License

  • Resident Licenses:
    • Valid for hunting any deer.
    • There is no limit on the number of licenses issued.
  • Nonresident Licenses:
    • White-tailed deer licenses are unlimited and valid statewide.
    • Any-deer bow licenses are limited. The cap is set at 862, which is 15% of the total mule deer gun season licenses issued in the previous year.

Deer Gun License

  • License Limitation:
    • A maximum of 53,400 licenses, including gratis licenses, will be issued.
  • Special Permits:
    • Included as part of the gun license, specifying the type of deer and the unit for hunting.

Muzzleloader License

  • Allocation:
    • State law permits 2% of the total number of white-tailed deer gun licenses available each year for muzzleloader licenses.
    • For 2023, this means 1,022 muzzleloader licenses.
  • Distribution:
    • Split evenly: 511 for antlered white-tailed and 511 for antlerless white-tailed deer.
  • Area of Validity:
    • Muzzleloader licenses are valid statewide.

General Compliance

  • Format:
    • Licenses can be in paper or electronic format.
  • Presentation Upon Request:
    • Hunters must promptly show their license to a game warden or other law enforcement officer when requested.

Eligibility Criteria for Deer Hunting Seasons

General Eligibility

  • Residents and Nonresidents:
    • Both groups are eligible to apply for deer bow, deer gun, and muzzleloader seasons.

Specific Age-Based Eligibility

  • For Antlerless White-Tailed Deer License:
    • Residents who turn age 11, 12, or 13 in 2023 are eligible.
  • For Youth Deer License:
    • Resident deer gun hunters turning age 14 or 15 in 2023 are eligible, provided they have never received a youth season deer gun license before.
    • Note: Having received a license at age 11, 12, or 13 does not affect this eligibility.

Hunter Education Requirement

  • Mandatory Course:
    • Hunters born after December 31, 1961, must have completed a certified state or provincial hunter education course to purchase a North Dakota deer hunting license.
  • Exemptions:
    • Individuals hunting only on land they own or operate are exempt.
    • Those aged 12 and older without hunter education can receive an apprentice hunter validation for one license year, allowing them to hunt deer.

Minimum Age Requirements

  • Bow License:
    • No minimum age for purchasing.
  • Antlerless Whitetail Deer Gun License:
    • Minimum age is youth turning 11 in 2023.
  • Youth Deer, Deer Gun, or Muzzleloader License:
    • Minimum age is youth turning 14 in 2023.

Nonresident Licensing

  • License Allocation:
    • State law allocates 1% of deer gun and muzzleloader licenses in any unit to nonresidents (up to the second deer gun lottery).
  • Guide/Outfitter Allocation:
    • Half of the nonresident allocation for antlered white-tailed deer licenses (up to 100 licenses) is available to licensed guides or outfitters.
  • Post-Lottery Application:
    • Nonresidents can apply for a deer gun license after the second lottery at a fee of $50.
  • Full-time Students:
    • Nonresident full-time students in North Dakota may qualify for nonlottery resident licenses.

Military Eligibility

  • Eligibility for Active Duty Personnel:
    • North Dakota residents on federal active duty outside the state during the 2022 deer gun season and who received an expeditionary medal or campaign badge can purchase one white-tailed deer gun license in a unit of their choice.
  • Application Requirements:
    • Must include documentation of their award or qualification with the application.
    • Late applications will be considered based on license availability.

Licensing Guidelines and Fees for Deer Hunting in North Dakota

General Licensing Rule

  • Non-transferability:
    • Licenses cannot be transferred, given away, bartered, or sold.

Specific Licenses Availability

  • Deer Bow:

    • Resident and nonresident licenses for white-tailed deer: Available at the Department’s Bismarck office, website, or participating vendors.
    • Nonresident any-deer licenses: Available only from the Department’s website.
    • Limitation: Only one regular deer bow license per season.
  • Antlerless White-tailed Deer (Ages 11-13 in 2023):

    • Licenses issued online via the Department’s website.
  • Youth Deer (Ages 14-15 in 2023):

    • Licenses issued online via the Department’s website.
  • Deer Gun:

    • Issued via a weighted lottery. Remaining licenses are distributed through a second lottery or on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Muzzleloader:

    • Issued via a weighted lottery.
  • Resident Gratis and Nonresident Landowner:

    • Eligibility: For those owning/leasing at least 150 acres in an open hunting area.
    • Validity: Only on land specified on the license.
    • Issued through the Department’s Bismarck office.
    • Deducted from the maximum number of deer gun licenses available.

License Fees

  • Resident Deer Bow:

    • 16 years and older: $30
    • Under 16 at the time of purchase: $10
  • Nonresident Deer Bow: $250

  • Youth Deer (residents 15 and younger at the time of application): $10

  • Resident Deer Gun or Muzzleloader:

    • 16 years and older: $30
    • Under 16 at the time of application: $10
  • Nonresident Deer Gun, Muzzleloader, or Landowner: $250

    • Note: Nonresident deer gun applicants also pay a nonrefundable application fee of $5.

Additional Licensing Requirements

  • Fishing, Hunting and Furbearer Certificate:

    • Residents: $1
    • Nonresidents: $2
  • General Game and Habitat License:

    • Standard: $20
    • Combination License: $50

Orange Clothing Requirements for Big Game Hunting

Mandatory Orange Clothing for Hunters

  • During Regular Deer Gun Season:
    • All big game hunters, including bowhunters, must wear orange clothing.
  • Youth Deer Season and Muzzleloader Season:
    • Hunters are also required to wear orange clothing.

Specifics of Legal Orange Clothing

  • Composition:
    • A head covering and an outer garment above the waistline.
  • Color and Visibility:
    • Must be of solid daylight fluorescent orange color.
  • Size Requirement:
    • The total area of the orange clothing should be at least 400 square inches.
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