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Doug Leier, Published October 29 2013

Leier: Answering common questions about deer hunting

West Fargo - Every year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department receives questions from deer hunters who want rules and regulations clarified. Some common questions are listed below:

Q: I can’t find my deer license. What should I do?

A: You must obtain an application for a duplicate license from the Game and Fish Department – by calling (701) 328-6300 or by 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.

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 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, Bureau of Land Management lands, national wildlife refuges, national grasslands, federal waterfowl production areas and state school land.

Can I use my deer gun license during the muzzleloader or archery season?

No. The deer gun license is valid for only the regular deer gun season.

Can I use my gratis license to take a mule deer doe?

Only if your license is valid in a unit other than 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F.

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.

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.


Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov. Leier’s blog can be found online

at dougleier.areavoices.com