Published October 29, 2021

Deer Season Q & A

Written by
The Dakotan
| The Dakotan

Every year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department receives questions from deer hunters who want to clarify rules and regulations. Some common questions are listed below. Hunters with further questions are encouraged to visit the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, or call 701-328-6300, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays.

Q: I have a concurrent season license. When can I use it?

A: The license can be used during the archery season with a bow; the deer gun season with a bow, rifle or muzzleloader; or the muzzleloader season with a muzzleloader. You are restricted to the type of antlerless deer printed on the license and must stay in the unit to which the license is assigned.

Q: Can hunters age 14 or 15 (in 2021) with a youth season license who did not harvest a deer during the youth season, hunt the regular deer gun season with this license?

A: Yes, but you are subject to the restrictions listed on the license.

Q: 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?

A: No. You are restricted to the same unit as during the youth season.

Q: I shot a deer, but it is rotten. What can I do?

A: 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.

Q: What should I do if I find a wounded deer?

A: Contact a game warden. Do not shoot the deer unless you want to tag it or are instructed by the warden to do so.

Q: Is camouflage blaze orange acceptable for the deer gun season?

A: No. You must wear both a hat and outer garment above the waistline totaling at least 400 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange.

Q: I hunt with a bow. When do I have to wear orange?

A: Only during the regular deer gun season.

Q: Can I hunt road rights-of-way?

A: Do not hunt on road rights-of-way unless you are certain they are open to public use. Most road rights-of-way are easements under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.

Q: Can I hunt on a section line if it is posted on both sides?

A: No. If the land is posted on both sides, the section line is closed to hunting, but is still open for travel.

Q: Can I hunt over bait on private land?

A: It is unlawful to hunt over bait, or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, in deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3, 3A4, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B and 4C.

Q: There is a new option in the 2021 proclamation that allows the head and spinal column to be left at the kill site, regardless of where you're hunting in North Dakota. Can you explain tagging and transportation requirements? 

A: Tag the deer as currently required, then take two pictures using a cellphone with location, date and time stamp turned on. One picture of the entire animal at the kill site with tag attached, and a second picture of a closeup of the tag so that tag information is readable. After taking pictures and saving them, the ear or antler with the tag attached must be cut off and accompany the meat or carcass while in transport. The photographs of the tagged deer must be shown to any game warden or other law enforcement officer upon request.

Q: I shot a deer in a unit that has carcass transportation restrictions (3A1, 3A2, 3B1, 3F2, 4B and 4C). What field dressing restrictions must I follow?

A: Hunters cannot transport the whole carcass outside of the unit. Exceptions: meat that has been boned out; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; meat that is cut and wrapped either commercially or privately; hides with no heads attached; skull plates with antlers attached having no hide or brain tissue present; intact skulls with the hide, eyes, lower jaw and associated soft tissue removed, and no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; antlers with no meat or tissue attached; upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories; and finished taxidermy heads. However, hunters can transport the whole carcass between adjoining CWD carcass restricted units.

Q: Can I retrieve a wounded deer from posted land?

A: If the deer was shot on land where you had a legal right to be and it ran onto 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.

Q: 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?

A: Contact a game warden.

Q: Can I drive off-trail on private land to retrieve a deer?

A: 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.

Q: Can I transport someone else's deer?

A: Yes, but you will need a transportation permit from a game warden. The license holder, person transporting the animal, and the carcass must be presented to the game warden before the permit is issued.

Q: May I carry a pistol when I am hunting with a deer rifle?

A: Yes, but the handgun must meet minimum requirements listed in the deer hunting regulations to be legal for taking deer.

Q: Can I carry both bow and gun afield during deer gun season if I have both licenses?

A: Yes, but only if you are going to fill your gun license. No firearms, except handguns, may be in the hunter’s possession while hunting with a deer bow license. However, handguns may not be used in any manner to assist in the harvest of a deer with an archery license.

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