North Dakota will have a limited pronghorn hunting season this fall for the first time since 2009.
Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said the season is open only in unit 4-A, the far southwestern corner of the state. A total of 250 any-pronghorn licenses are available, and the season is split into an early bow-only portion, and a later gun/bow season.
The bow-only portion of the season is from Aug. 29 (noon) Sept. 28. Anyone who draws a license can hunt pronghorn with a bow, only in Unit 4-A, during this period.
From Oct. 3 (noon) Oct.19, hunters who still have a valid license can use legal firearms or bow equipment.
We are opening the hunting season in unit 4-A to take advantage of a surplus number of bucks in that area, and to provide hunting opportunity while still encouraging population growth, Kreil said. While we arent issuing any statewide pronghorn archery licenses this year as we did in the past, hunters who do draw a license can use a rifle, bow or both, depending on their preferences.
Game and Fish biologists surveyed more than 11,000 square miles, 100 percent of the 21 survey units in the state, in early July. Statistics indicate a statewide population estimate of 5,700 pronghorn, with 1,650 in the area open to hunting.
The number of pronghorn observed in Unit 4-A falls within our regional population objective of having a limited season, while all other units do not, Kreil said.
In addition, unit 4-A has a high buck-to-doe ratio, Kreil said, which is typical of a population that has not been hunted. The fawn-to-doe ratio is also the highest since 2007.
While some people may have expected more units to be open, we need to proceed conservatively with this valuable wildlife resource and let pronghorns rebound to a level that can sustain harvest. The good news is that we are poised to see additional units open next year, providing Mother Nature cooperates with a moderate winter, Kreil said.
Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply for a 2014 pronghorn license. Kreil said people who have accumulated preference points and choose not to apply this year will not lose their points.
In addition, state law allows youth who turn age 12 on or before December 31, 2014 to apply for a license.
Online applications for regular and gratis licenses will be available the week of July 21 at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov . Paper applications will also be available from Game and Fish offices, county auditors and license vendors, or by calling 800-406-6409 .
The pronghorn license fee is $30, and the deadline for submitting applications is Aug. 6.