Weather Forecast


OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: North Dakota mule deer fawn production declines, Minnesota DNR sets four-walleye winter limit on Upper Red Lake etc.

1 / 2
Mule deer in North Dakota produced fewer fawns in 2017 than the previous year, the Game and Fish Department said, based on results from annual fall aerial surveys. (N.D. Game and Fish Department photo)2 / 2

Survey pegs drop in mule deer production

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's fall mule deer survey indicated fawn production in 2017 was lower than last year.

Biologists counted 2,548 mule deer in the aerial survey in October, down from 3,003 in 2016. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.32, down from 0.48 in 2016, was lower than the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.76 was down from 0.90 in 2016 and the long-term average of 0.91 fawns per doe.

Bruce Stillings, big game biologist for Game and Fish, said survey conditions were much warmer than normal, with nearly 50 percent leaf cover, which he said could explain the lower buck-to-doe ratio.

"This year's lower fawn production was expected based on the previous winter conditions, but it was still at a level able to support stable-to-increasing deer numbers, depending on the severity of the upcoming winter," Stillings said.

The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306.3 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists also survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine deer abundance.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

DNR sets four-walleye limit on Upper Red

BEMIDJI—Anglers fishing Upper Red Lake in northwest Minnesota this winter will be able to keep four walleyes, of which only one may be longer than 17 inches, the Department of Natural Resources said Monday.

This same regulation has been in effect since the walleye fishing opener in May, but this will be the first winter season with the combination of a four-fish bag limit and one over 17 inches allowed, the DNR said in a news release.

"Harvest under a three-fish bag limit last year resulted in approximately 109,000 pounds for the winter season," Gary Barnard, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Bemidji, said in the release. "Total harvest for the past winter and summer seasons combined was below the target harvest range so there is room for additional harvest this year."

Red Lake's walleye harvest is managed under a joint harvest plan, revised in 2015 by the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee.

"The extra fish in the daily bag this winter is expected to increase winter harvest, and allowing one fish over 17 inches meets our harvest plan objectives by spreading harvest over a wide range of sizes and removing some of the surplus spawning stock.," Barnard said.

More information on Red Lake fishing regulations is available at

-- Forum News Service

Did you know?

• Hunting opportunities at Des Lacs and Upper Souris national wildlife refuges in North Dakota will expand under a final rule the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday, Nov. 7, to open or expand opportunities on 10 national wildlife refuges covering 132,000 acres across the U.S. Under the rule, Des Lacs will be open to moose hunting for the first time, and Upper Souris will be open to moose and turkey hunting. Des Lacs already is open to upland game and other big game hunting, and Upper Souris is open to upland game hunting, other big game hunting and sport fishing.

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding deer hunters to consider donating to the Sportsmen Against Hunger program this fall. The list of participating processors is available on the Community Action Partnership of North Dakota website at

• North Dakota nonprofit organizations that are eligible to receive big game hunting licenses in 2018 must submit applications to the Game and Fish Department no later than Jan. 1. The Game and Fish director can issue up to two elk, moose and pronghorn licenses, and 10 white-tailed deer licenses, to eligible organizations, which then can use them for fundraising. More info:

• North Dakota's free ice fishing weekend is Dec. 30-31. Resident anglers may fish that weekend without a license. All other ice fishing regulations apply. People interested in darkhouse spearfishing that weekend first must register with the Game and Fish Department. Registration is available online at or through any Game and Fish office. Legal fish for darkhouse spearing are northern pike and nongame species.

• Minnesota's new Breeding Bird Atlas website is now live and available for the public to use at The information collected and compiled as part of the Breeding Bird Atlas gives the most comprehensive look at Minnesota birds in nearly a century.

• Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has launched a website that considers natural resource-related policy decisions from the Trump administration in light of promises by President Trump and other administration officials to honor the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the nation's greatest sportsman-conservationist leader. The What Would Theodore Roosevelt Do? website is available at

• In partnership with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, as well as several other key conservation partners that make up the CRP Works coalition, the National Deer Alliance is urging deer hunters across the country to contact their federal lawmakers and express support of the 2018 Farm Bill and the Conservation Reserve Program. Info:

--" target="_blank">


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.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

(701) 780-1148