North Dakota pronghorns: ‘Numbers were a bit disappointing, but not unexpected’
North Dakota’s 2017 pronghorn hunting season is set, with 410 licenses available in five open units.
Bruce Stillings, big game management supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department, said the recently completed aerial survey indicated the pronghorn population is down 14 percent from last year.
“Numbers were a bit disappointing, but not unexpected due to a combination of a tough winter and extreme drought conditions,” Stillings said.
A total of 30 licenses are available in 2B, 25 in 3A, 80 in 3B, 225 in 4A and 50 in 4C. All licenses are valid for any pronghorn. Units 1A and 2A, which were open to pronghorn hunting in 2016, are closed this year.
“We just don’t have the numbers to support a season in those two units this year,” Stillings said.
On the bright side, Stillings said the fawn-to-doe ratio of .74 to 1 was the highest since 2002. The buck-to-doe ratio of 38 bucks per 100 does remained stable.
“This year’s high fawn production is encouraging for future population growth,” Stillings said. “A moderate winter, with average fawn production next summer, may provide conditions needed for pronghorn population growth to support additional hunting opportunities in 2018.”
Similar to last year, each unit will have a season that is split into an early bow-only portion, and a later gun/bow season.
The bow-only portion of the season is from Sept. 1 (noon) to Sept. 24. Anyone who draws a license can hunt pronghorn with a bow in the unit printed on the license.
From Oct. 6 (noon) to Oct. 22, hunters who still have a valid license can use legal firearms or bow equipment and again must stay in the assigned unit.
Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply for a 2017 pronghorn license. Hunters who have accumulated bonus points and choose not to apply this year will not lose their points.
In addition, state law allows youths who turn 12 on or before Dec. 31, 2017 to apply for a license.
Applicants may apply online at the Game and Fish Department website starting Thursday, July 20. Paper applications will be available the week of July 24 for printing off the website, and from license vendors, or by calling 800-406-6409.
The pronghorn license fee is $30 for ages 16 and older, and $10 for under age 16. The deadline for submitting applications is Aug. 2