While many archery deer hunters have already enjoyed a couple of months in the field, some filling tags and some waiting for the right one, thousands of other deer hunters are preparing for the Nov. 5 deer gun season.

With that in mind, it’s a good time to remind all big game hunters of requirements for transporting deer, elk and moose carcasses and carcass parts into and within North Dakota, as a precaution against the possible spread of chronic wasting disease. Commonly known as CWD, chronic wasting disease is fatal to deer, moose and elk and can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked.

Hunters are prohibited from transporting into or within North Dakota the whole carcass of deer, elk, moose or other members of the cervid family harvested outside of North Dakota.

In addition, hunters harvesting a white-tailed deer or mule deer from deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3B1, 3F2, 4B and 4C, a moose from moose hunting units M10 and M11, or an elk from elk hunting unit E2, cannot transport the whole carcass outside the unit. However, hunters can transport the whole carcass between adjoining CWD carcass-restricted units.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game wardens will be enforcing all CWD transportation laws.

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Hunters are encouraged to plan accordingly and be prepared to quarter a carcass, cape out an animal, clean a skull in the field, or find a taxidermist or meat locker within the unit or state that can assist.

For questions about how to comply with this regulation, hunters should contact a district game warden or other department staff ahead of the planned hunt.

The following lower-risk portions of the carcass can be transported:

  • Meat boned out.

  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.

  • Meat cut and wrapped either commercially or privately.

  • Hides with no heads attached.

  • Skull plates with antlers attached and no hide or brain tissue present.

  • Intact skulls with the hide, eyes, lower jaw and associated soft tissue removed, and no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present.

  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.

  • Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories.

  • Finished taxidermy heads.

Deer hunters should note that beginning this year, there is an exception to the regulation that reads “a deer carcass or boned-out meat must be accompanied by the head to the final place of storage.” The exception is this: Tag the deer as required, then take two photographs using a cellphone with location, date and time stamp turned on. One photograph should be of the entire animal at the kill site with the tag attached, and the second photograph should be a closeup of the tag so that the tag information is readable.

If a hunter leaves the head in the field at the kill site, after taking photos and saving them, the ear or antler with the tag attached must be cut off and accompany the meat or carcass while in transport. The photographs of the tagged deer must be shown to any game warden or other law enforcement officer upon request.

Also don’t forget it is unlawful to hunt big game over bait, or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, in deer units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3, 3A4, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B and 4C.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department strongly discourages recreational feeding of wildlife within these units. The restriction is in place to help slow the spread of CWD.

In addition, hunting big game over bait or baiting for any purpose is prohibited on all Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas. Hunting big game over bait is also prohibited on all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas, U.S. Forest Service national grasslands, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed lands and all North Dakota state trust, state park and state forest service lands.

More information on CWD can be found on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.


Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at dleier@nd.gov.

Doug Leier
Doug Leier