In case you missed it North Dakota’s spring light goose season opened Saturday Feb. 20 and no it’s not to early of a season. South Dakota’s opened February 15 and Minnesota’s March 1.
The first I heard of reports of Canada geese were the weekend of February 20th and even prior to that some reports of snow geese were circulating in southern South Dakota. I have come to realize after over 15 years of a spring season just when we think we have it figure out, the weather and birds will prove again they know more than we do.
Fact is the officially opening day of the season doesn’t matter much to the geese as they’ll be here when they get here.
Regardless of when the birds arrive or hunters head out residents must have a valid current season 2015-16 (valid through March 31) or 2016-17 (required April 1) combination license; or a small game, and general game and habitat license. The 2016-17 license is available for purchase beginning March 15.
● Nonresidents need a 2016 spring light goose season license. The cost is $50 and the license is good statewide. Nonresidents who hunt the spring season remain eligible to buy a fall season license. The spring season does not count against the 14-day fall waterfowl hunting season regulation.
● In addition, nonresident youth under age 16 can purchase a license at the resident fee if their state has youth reciprocity licensing with North Dakota.
● A federal duck stamp is not required for either residents or nonresidents.
● Resident and nonresident licenses are available from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office, website at gf.nd.gov, or by calling 800-406-6409. Licenses are also available at any vendor that is linked to the department’s electronic licensing system.
● Availability of food and open water dictate when snow geese arrive in the state. Early migrants generally start showing up in the southeast part of the state in mid-to-late March, but huntable numbers usually aren’t around until the end of March or early April. Movements into and through the state will depend on available roosting areas and the extent of the snow line.
● Hunters must obtain a new Harvest Information Program registration number before hunting. The HIP number can be obtained online or by calling 888-634-4798. The HIP number is good for the fall season as well, so spring hunters should save it to record on their fall license.
The spring season is only open to light geese—snows, blues, and Ross’s. Species identification is important because white-fronted and Canada geese travel with light geese. The season is closed to whitefronts, Canada geese, swans and all other migratory birds.
Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit. Electronic and recorded calls, as well as shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, may be used to take light geese during this season.
There are no waterfowl rest areas designated for the spring season. Hunters should note that private land within waterfowl rest areas closed last fall may be posted closed to hunting.
Nontoxic shot is required for hunting all light geese statewide. Driving off established roads and trails is strongly discouraged during this hunt because of the likelihood of soft, muddy conditions, and winter wheat that is planted across the state. Sprouted winter wheat is considered an unharvested crop. Therefore, hunting or off-road travel in winter wheat is not legal without landowner permission.
To maintain good landowner relations, hunters are advised to seek permission before hunting on private lands or attempting any off-road travel during this season.
All regular hunting season regulations not addressed above apply to the spring season. For more information on regulations refer to the 2016 Spring Light Goose Hunting Regulations and the 2015 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide.