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Several kids' prizes also were awarded Feb. 4 during the Larimore Lions Club Fishing Derby at Larimore Dam Recreation Area. (Submitted photo by Josh Andrews)

NDGF conducts aerial deer surveys

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department was able to conduct aerial deer surveys across much of the state this winter for the first time in three years, a department biologist said.

According to Bill Jensen, big game biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck, the department flew surveys on about 25 of 32 hunting units across the state. Warm weather that arrived in mid-January put the aerial survey on hold, Jensen said.

Snow is crucial to spotting the deer from the air.

"If we get more snow, we'll try and do some resampling on representative monitoring blocks to see what changes have occurred as winter progresses," Jensen said. "We haven't been able to do this for like three years, but when compared to 2013, deer numbers look to be up or stable for most units so that's encouraging."

Jensen said heavy snow in December and early January caused concerns about the fate of deer populations across the state, but with the warm snap, that concern seems to have subsided.

"You can see open field hilltops along Interstate 94, so that gave the deer some respite and a place where they can forage again," Jensen said. "It was pretty tough for them to find anything before that so I'm thinking if it just stays like this and gradually warms, the deer should be doing a lot lot better, but December and the first part of January were brutal."

Jensen said the number of deer depredation complaints also have subsided since the snow started to melt. Before that, there were areas in the Bismarck area north to Riverdale, N.D., east and south to Kidder and Emmons counties and southwest to Adams and Hettinger counties where the complaints were coming in pretty hard for a while, he said

-- Brad Dokken

Candle receives NPAA honor

Devils Lake walleye pro Johnnie Candle recently received an Honorary Lifetime Membership from the National Professional Anglers Association for a career that has embodied the intent and purpose of the NPAA.

Candle is a founding member of the NPAA and served on the board of directors for three terms. In 1996, his Kid's Fishing Clinics at the four North American Walleye Anglers tournaments were the first youth clinics ever held at a national walleye fishing tournament. Those events have springboarded to the several hundred future angler events held by NPAA members last year.

In 2010 with partner Dave Noble, he was crowned World Walleye Champion, proving his skills both off and on the water.

The Honorary Lifetime Membership has only been given 12 times previously. Candle joins a short list of recipients that includes the likes of Larry Porter, Bob Probst Sr., and Al and Ron Lindner.

Besides being a tournament angler, Candle is a sport fishing communicator and fishing guide.

-- Herald staff report

New North Dakota big game records book in works

The upcoming seventh edition of the "North Dakota Big Game Records Book" will be published this spring, but there still is time for hunters to submit qualifying entries.

Lyle Hanson of Jamestown, N.D., creator and publisher of the first six editions, turned the reins over to Garrison, N.D.-based outdoor writer Patricia Stockdill, who is compiling the upcoming edition.

Entries will be accepted for big game species legally taken in North Dakota meeting minimum qualifying scores based on Boone and Crockett Club scoring methods: White-tailed deer typical (150), white-tailed deer nontypical (170), mule deer typical (155), mule deer nontypical (175), elk typical (275), elk nontypical (325), moose (135), pronghorn (70) and bighorn sheep (135).

All animals must have been taken following the standards of Boone and Crockett's "Fair Chase." Score sheets must be signed by the scorer and hunter to validate the entry.

New qualifying entries, as well as animals taken in past years that were not entered in previous editions, can be submitted.

Submission deadline is Feb. 27.

For more information, contact Stockdill at

-- Herald staff report

Mentored Minnesota turkey hunt deadline approaches

Monday, Feb. 13, is the deadline for youth and adults to hunt turkeys in Minnesota for the first time under the guidance of experienced National Wild Turkey Federation volunteers.

Hunts are set for Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23, and a pre-hunt orientation is required. The cost of the orientation ranges from $5 to $10, and hunting licenses cost $1 for 12 year olds; $6 for ages 13 through 17; and $27 for hunters 18 and older. All participants will need to have a valid firearms safety certificate or its equivalent, and youth must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Applications and details about how to apply are available on the Department of Natural Resources' website at

-- Minnesota DNR

Register to darkhouse spearfish in North Dakota

Everyone who participates in darkhouse spearfishing in North Dakota, regardless of age, first must register with the Game and Fish Department.

Free registration is available on the Game and Fish website at or through any Game and Fish Department office.

North Dakota's darkhouse spearfishing season closes March 15. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

Darkhouse spearing is allowed for all residents with a valid fishing license and for residents under age 16. Nonresidents may darkhouse spearfish in North Dakota if they are from states that offer the same privilege for North Dakota residents.

All waters open to hook-and-line fishing are open to darkhouse spearing except:

• East Park Lake, West Park Lake, Lake Audubon — McLean County.

• Heckers Lake — Sheridan County.

• Larimore Dam — Grand Forks County.

• McClusky Canal.

• New Johns Lake — Burleigh County.

• Red Willow Lake — Griggs County.

• Wood Lake — Benson County

For more information, refer to the 2016-18 North Dakota Fishing Guide.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Anglers should clean up after themselves on the ice

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds winter anglers to clean up the ice after fishing—not only trash, but fish as well.

It is not only unsightly, it also is illegal to leave fish behind on the ice. According to the state's fishing proclamation, when a fish is caught, anglers either must immediately release the fish back into the water unharmed or reduce it to their daily possession.

It is common practice for some anglers to fillet fish on the ice, which is fine, as long as fish entrails and other parts are taken and properly disposed of at home.

In addition, all trash, including aluminum cans, cigarette butts and Styrofoam containers, should be packed out and taken home.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Did you know?

• Staff from the Minnesota DNR based at the Glacial Ridge Project office in Polk County have been brush mowing land at Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge to control willows and other invasive woody vegetation. According to a posting on the refuge's Facebook page, mowing in the winter, when the ground is frozen, allows heavy equipment to navigate the areas without getting stuck and with minimal impact to other grassland vegetation. Most of the areas the DNR is mowing at Glacial Ridge also are scheduled to be burned this year, further setting back the extent of woody cover, refuge staff said.

• The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation capped 2016 by surpassing 7 million acres in lifetime land protection and habitat enhancement projects. RMEF seeks to permanently protect crucial elk range, migration corridors, calving grounds and other areas vital to elk and other wildlife by using acquisitions, access agreements and easements, conservation easements, land and estate donations and other similar land conservation tools and projects.

-- Compiled by Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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