ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Doug Leier: Drawing a once-in-a-lifetime license doesn't guarantee success

Even though the odds of drawing a moose, elk or bighorn sheep license in North Dakota are not high, you can't get one if you don't apply. Year in and year out, I field many calls and emails from prospective hunters about how they might improve th...

Potential applicants for big-game hunts, like bighorn sheep, need to understand they need to be willing to prepare for a long and difficult hunt. N.D. Game and Fish Department photo
North Dakota hunters who apply for bighorn sheep, elk and moose licenses need to be willing to prepare for a long and difficult hunt if they draw a tag. (N.D. Game and Fish Department photo)

Even though the odds of drawing a moose, elk or bighorn sheep license in North Dakota are not high, you can't get one if you don't apply.

Year in and year out, I field many calls and emails from prospective hunters about how they might improve those odds, such as applying for a cow license vs. a bull or "any" license in a particular unit. This information from the previous year also is available on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov when you apply for a moose, elk or sheep license.

Regardless of the odds, I try to make sure that interested hunters are aware of the time and resources that usually are necessary to have a successful hunt.

Too often, I hear stories about people whose thrill of beating the odds and receiving one of these once-in-a-lifetime licenses turned to disappointment the following fall when the effort required for success was more than they expected.

Many hunters tend to equate these special big game hunts with deer hunting, because that's what they know. With the exception of some landowners who live within certain moose and elk units, these licenses are once-in-a-lifetime. We don't get to go the first time, learn on the go, then come back much better prepared the next time we get the same license.

ADVERTISEMENT

Here's some more details for this year:

• The first point of emphasis is that applications must be entered online. Paper applications are no longer available for any lottery licenses. Game and Fish put this into place last summer for swan and fall turkey, and this year it also applies to spring turkey; moose, elk and sheep; and deer gun and muzzleloader.

• Lottery applicants can also use the toll-free licensing phone number at (800) 406-6409, but preferential landowner and gratis applications are not available over the phone.

• A total of 408 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 19 from last year.

• A record 334 moose licenses are available in 2018, an increase of 89 from last year. Most of the increase is antlerless licenses in units M10 and M11 because of an increasing moose population in those units.

• A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2018. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed.

• Bighorn sheep applicants must apply for a license at the same time as moose and elk. Once total licenses are determined for each unit in late summer, the bighorn lottery will then be held, and successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.

My point in all of this is to help potential applicants understand they need to be willing to prepare for a long and difficult hunt. Success is not just measured in filling a tag. As with most things in life, you'll get out of it what you put into it.

ADVERTISEMENT

The deadline for applying is March 28.

Doug Leier, North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Doug Leier, North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Doug Leier, North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Doug Leier, North Dakota Game and Fish Department

What To Read Next
Featuring area prep sports cancellations and postponements, local boys and girls basketball results, N.D. girls wrestling second edition coaches' poll and much more!
Featuring the prep honor roll, area college basketball conference standings, N.D. Class A and B prep basketball polls, and much more!
Featuring boys and girls hockey results from throughout the region, area prep basketball scores, boys swimming and diving results, and much more!
Manning needed 24 points to break the school record held by Kyle Sanden, who scored 1,549 points in the mid-1990s.