Reminders for Rifle Season

Doug Leier

By Doug Leier

Going back to my beginning with the Game and Fish Department as a game warden, the common questions surrounding deer season haven’t changed that much.

Neither have the answers.

Which say’s a lot about North Dakota’s deer hunting heritage. The 60,000-plus hunters are passionate about the time-honored tradition and want to know the rules and regulations. It’s understood with a relatively short 16 ½-day season, a refresher is warranted each year.

What has changed over the years? The availability of information. The Game and Fish Department website provides access to the same resources I use. A late night or early morning question? Odds are the answer can be found at

Here’s a few of the more common questions to save you the search and click:

What should I do if I find a wounded deer? Even outside of deer season this question is common and while your intentions may sincerely be not to see any animal suffer the first task is to assess the situation. Is the animal actually wounded? We never suggest approaching wounded animals as the response in any situation is unknown and putting yourself at risk is not advised. In this situation, envision a citizen down the road seeing someone with a rifle dispatching a deer. If they contact a game warden because they observed you shooting a deer it can become extremely complicated. The correct choice is to contact a game warden. Do not shoot the deer unless you want to tag it or are instructed by the warden to do so.

Is camouflage blaze orange acceptable for the deer gun season? No. You must wear both a hat and outer garment above the waistline totaling at least 400 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange. The goal of a blaze orange is to keep hunters safe. While there are many different variations of blaze orange, compromising safety for the latest style or fashion isn’t worth the tradeoff. I’ll even offer in the rural areas I’ve seen non-hunters, farmers, ranchers and others just out for a walk across the prairie wearing blaze orange. Who knows, maybe blaze orange can become the latest go to style?

I hunt with a bow. When do I have to wear orange? Only during the regular deer gun season. That’s the legal answer. If you haven’t read the previous suggestion. Do so. Safety rules are intended to keep you and others safe while hunting.

Can I hunt road rights-of-way? Can I hunt on a section line if it is posted on both sides? 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. If the land is posted on both sides, the section line is closed to hunting, but is still open for travel.

I’ll close with a general answer to these final questions. If you don’t know for certain, check the Game and Fish Department deer hunting guide or ask a game warden. Don’t look for loopholes or justifications for your choice. If you are unsure or don’t know, the best advice if you can’t find an answer is, “don’t go.” If you don’t know. Don’t go. Your time is better spent on PLOTS, WMA or other public land rather than finding out the hard way that what you thought was legal or open was not.

Stay safe, obey the rules and enjoy the great heritage of North Dakota deer hunting.

Leier is an outreach biologist with the NDG&F Department.

Featured Photo: Access to deer hunting information is available on the Game and Fish website: NDG&F Photo.

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