The Rules for Gifting Game

Doug Leier

By Doug Leier

Fresh walleye, grilled venison, a Christmas goose, these are just a few of the favorite foods that come from North Dakota’s outdoors, and not just for hunters and anglers.

Most of us who enjoy dining on fish and game from the field also know a friend, neighbor or relative who may not hunt or fish but enjoys it just the same. However, sharing game and fish with those friends and neighbors, while perfectly legal, does come with some rules and regulations. I get several calls a year from people who want to make sure they are following the proper procedures for giving away their fish or game.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at has all the details. But I’ll pass along some of the more common questions and answers and some other basic information here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I reach my daily limit hunting a certain species but then gift some of that game or fish to someone else, can I continue to hunt?

A: No. Once you have reached your daily limit, you cannot continue to hunt that species regardless of whether you keep them or gift them.

Q: If I gift game in the field, how does it affect my possession limit?

A: Your possession limit is different than your daily limit. You can reduce your possession limit by giving birds or fish to someone else for their use, provided it is done legally.

Q: I accepted game from a friend, but that game was not properly labeled. Can I get in trouble for that?

A: No. The responsibilities associated with giving game are on the person who is giving it, not on the person who is receiving it.

Other Details

Gifted game and fish must have all required identification attached to the animal(s). Gifted game and fish must also be tagged with the following information:

  • Hunter/angler’s name.
  • Hunter/angler’s license number.
  • Harvest date.
  • Species.
  • Animal count.

When gifting a whole big game animal before it is processed, the original license holder needs to properly tag the animal, the carcass tag needs to remain with the animal, and a transportation permit (available from Game and Fish game wardens) is needed if the carcass is transported by someone other than the license holder.

Gifting Post Processing/Packaging (out of the field)

Once game and fish has been taken home and processed, there are no identification requirements for gifting. Game and Fish does suggest that you put your name, the species and the fact that you are giving the meat away as a gift, but it is not required.

Shipping Game and Fish

There are labeling requirements when shipping game. In addition to state regulations there are federal regulations that apply when shipping waterfowl. Note: The total number of game or fish shipped in any season may not exceed a possession limit.

The Department provides a labeling form on the website that meets the North Dakota and federal labeling requirements.

Leier is an Outreach Biologist with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department. 

Featured Photo: A good gift.  Wild game is a common gift, but there are certain requirements for giving it away. NDG&F Photo.

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