Hunting in North Dakota

An image of two hunters in the middle of grassland, hunting in North Dakota

Want to unleash the thrill of hunting in the comfort of a beautiful, natural setting? Then, maybe you’ve considered hunting in North Dakota. 

North Dakota is a hidden gem when in the talk about hunting destinations in the United States. Compared to other states, NoDak hunters can enjoy less competition, a high success rate, and affordable licenses as a gateway to lots of hunting opportunities. 

But we know the overwhelming feeling of planning another hunting venture. And that’s why this article is here to help you!

This article includes all the basics you need to know for a successful hunt in North Dakota. All are the fruit of comprehensive research, including information from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and insights from the state’s hunters. 

Ready to map out your yet another prosperous adventure? Let’s start! 

All-Year-Round Hunting Season

Hunters can enjoy all-year-round hunting of different game species in their respective seasons.  

But, it’s important to note that seasons and regulations in North Dakota vary based on two factors:

  1. Species you’re trying to hunt
  2. Hunting areas you’re in

You should always check the GF ND website for up-to-date hunting information. 

Here are the different hunting seasons in North Dakota:

Small Game Hunting Season

Hunting season for small game species runs the longest. 

It starts from early September to late March depending on the animal you’re after. Pretty cool, right?

What’s more, it includes a variety of small game species such as squirrels, rabbits, and coyotes. 

Big Game Hunting Season

Want to hunt deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and bison? Then, wait until North Dakota’s big game hunting season begins!

The season runs from September to December. But it depends on the species and the hunting zone where you’re hunting.

Hunters must have a big game license and may need to apply for a tag or permit for specific species.

Waterfowl Hunting Season

The waterfowl hunting season runs from early September to late December. 

The state divided the waterfowl species at various times throughout the season.    

Planning to hunt the famous North Dakota ducks? The state would need you to have a migratory bird license and a federal duck stamp.

Upland Game Hunting Season

For pheasant, grouse, or partridge hunting, the season runs from mid-September to January. 

Planning to hunt upland birds? Then you must get a small game license and upland game bird stamp.

Games Species in North Dakota

Want to enjoy the diversity of game species in one state? 

North Carolina got you covered with its vast range of game species. All are available for you to pursue! 

Here are the most famous and well-sought game species in the state:


North Dakota is home to a healthy population of deer. They are the most hunted big game species in the state. 

The state has diverse subspecies of deer, all scattered and ready for you to take down. That includes white-tailed deer, mule, elk, and moose!

Hunters can use archery, gun, and muzzleloaders when hunting deer in North Dakota. But note that it depends on which season you’re going to!


Are you a Pheasant lover and want to bag tons of preserved pheasant? Look no more because North Dakota is the right place for you!

North Dakota is famous for its excellent pheasant hunting opportunities. 

And lucky you! There are hundreds of great places for pheasant hunting. And here are the best ones: 

  1. Mott
  2. Crosby
  3. Ellendale
  4. Wing
  5. Lake Sakakawea. 

Upland Game Birds

Around half of the land in North Dakota is good for upland bird hunting. And aside from pheasants, hunters can shut down a variety of upland game birds like

  1. Sharptail grouse, 
  2. Sage grouse, 
  3. Hungarian partridge
  4. Ruffed grouse. 

So even if you’re looking to hunt other upland species, North Dakota is waiting to impress you!


Do you know that North Dakota is the premier destination for waterfowl hunting? Well, hunting enthusiasts don’t call the state a Duck Factory for nothing!

Different waterfowl species are everywhere in the state. That includes the following species:

  1. Ducks
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Light Geese
  4. White-fronted Geese
  5. Tundra Swan
  6. Mergansers
  7. Coots

And lucky you! They are all available for you to feast over. 

Hunting Areas in North Dakota  

North Dakota offers a variety of public lands for hunting.

When hunting in these areas, hunters must follow specific regulations and guidelines. Such as obtaining the appropriate permits and adhering to any special hunting restrictions. 

State Wildlife Management Areas

North Dakota has over 220 state wildlife management areas. Open for hunters to embark on hunting opportunities for a variety of game species. 

The GF ND manages these areas. Some of the popular state wildlife management areas for hunting include 

  1. Lonetree
  2. Missouri River
  3. Des Lacs.

Corps of Engineers Lands

Want to experience the bountiful aquatic resources of North Dakota? 

Sure, you’ll get to do that! But first, the Department of the Army Regulatory Program needs to give you a permit first. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages several public lands in North Dakota. Once the corps permits you, the beauty of Lake Sakakawea, Lake Oahe, and the Missouri River awaits you.

National Wildlife Refuges

Hunters in North Dakota enjoy waterfowl, upland birds, and big game hunting in these areas: 

  1. Arrowwood
  2. Audubon
  3. Chase Lake
  4. J. Clark Salyer
  5. Lake Alice
  6. Lostwood 

Despite the state’s promise of the best wildlife viewing and hunting for hunters. They are still strict on monitoring close eyes on the species population.

National Grasslands

The Dakota Prairie Grasslands span North Dakota and South Dakota. 

These hunting areas bless you with big game, upland, and waterfowl hunting prospects. All that while enjoying the rugged unspoiled landscape beauty of the state.   

The U.S. Forest Service managed the state’s grassland. Covering over 1.3 million acres of public land for hunting.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Private Lands Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) Program

Worried that your hunting experience is only limited to public areas?

Well, the good news is that North Dakota has a program allowing licensed hunters to hunt on private lands.  

This program provides hunters access to thousands of acres of private land in the state. This becomes possible with the combined financial help of federal grants and donations. 

Hunting Regulations

Licensing Requirements

Like any state in America, Hunters in North Dakota should abide by the state’s law at all times. 

This means every hunter must have a license to hunt a certain species. But don’t fret, because getting a hunting license is only a piece of cake.

The state allows hunters, whether resident or non-resident, to buy hunting licenses online. You can also buy one from any authorized vendors throughout the state. 

Hunters may also need to buy extra licenses and permits for specific game species. 

  1. Resident Hunting License
  2. Non-resident Hunting License
  3. Lottery: Some species licenses are only provided via lottery for species preservation.

DID YOU KNOW?: You can bring your little ones to North Dakota to hunt pheasant, turkey, waterfowl, and deer. 

Well, the young hunting license program of North Dakota made it possible!

Start your little ones young! 

Bag Limits

Bag limits refer to the most number of game species that a hunter can harvest during a specific season. 

The GF ND sets bag limits for each game species for EVERY hunter to follow.

Hunting Methods 

The GF ND regulates the hunting method allowed for each game species and hunting area. This promotes safe and ethical hunting practices for both hunters and animals.

Meaning, hunters can only use limited weapons when hunting a certain game species. 


North Dakota offers a unique and unparalleled hunting experience for those seeking adventure in a serene, natural environment.

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with essential information and insights to help you plan a successful and memorable hunting trip to North Dakota. 

Gear up and hunt responsibly!