It is set, the 2017 pheasant season is scheduled to open Oct. 14
In a way, it doesn’t seem fair to start planning for 2017 fall hunting seasons even before some of the 2016 seasons have closed, but for some it’s not too early to block out dates on a calendar.
Whether it’s planning vacation time or just initiating the anticipation process following recent closure of your favorite season, it’s good to know how next fall will set up.
As such, about this time every year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year. These dates of course don’t become official until approved by governor’s proclamation, but generally from year to year there is not much change.
Over the years Game and Fish has established a list of “standardized dates” that determine when certain seasons open. There is no law that says pheasant season has to open on the second Saturday in October, but that’s been the Game and Fish benchmark for more than 20 years.
In 2016 the pheasant season opened on Oct. 8, and in 2017 the second Saturday falls on the 14th, and that’s about as much variation as you’ll see from year to year.
Below is a listing of many hunting season opening dates in the coming year.
- Spring Turkey – April 8
- Deer and Pronghorn Bow, Dove, Mountain Lion – Sept. 1
- Sharptail, Hun, Ruffed Grouse, Squirrel – Sept. 9
- Youth Deer – Sept. 15
- Youth Waterfowl – Sept. 16
- Early Resident Waterfowl – Sept. 23
- Regular Waterfowl – Sept. 30
- Pronghorn Gun – Oct. 6
- Youth Pheasant – Oct. 7
- Pheasant, Fall Turkey – Oct. 14
- Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping – Oct. 28
- Deer Gun – Nov. 10
- Deer Muzzleloader – Dec. 1
For the here and now, as you would expect, ice fishing is generating a lot of interest. Here’s a few regulations to remember.
- Fish houses do not require a license.
- Occupied structures do not require identification. However, any unoccupied fish house must have the owner’s name, and either address or telephone number, displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least three inches high.
- Fish houses may not be placed closer than 50 feet in any direction to another house without consent of the occupant of the other fish house.
- All unoccupied fish houses must be removed from all waters after midnight, March 15.
- Fish houses must be constructed with materials that will allow them to float if left unattended.
- The statewide possession limit for bluegill, yellow perch and white bass has been reduced from 80 to 40 each.
- Markers must be in the possession of anglers and/or spearers as soon as a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.
- Fishing poles must be easily visible and within a maximum distance of 150 feet of participating angler.
The 2016-18 North Dakota Fishing Guide, in print and online, has all the other details an angler might need to know as the winter fishing season gets into full swing.
If you’re looking for a new spot to try or are not sure where to go, the Game and Fish website also has some good information on fish populations across the state, as well as video and print instructions for removing the Y-bones from northern pike.
And remember, no matter how thick the ice, keep your eyes open for changing conditions. A little extra caution is always a good idea when traveling on ice.
Leier is a biologist for the Game and Fish Department.
ND Game & Fish