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North Dakota Upland Hunting Season Dates, License Fees, and More

North Dakota Upland Hunting Season Dates, License Fees, and More

A Pheasant Hunter in North Dakota in the snow

Hunt for birds in the peaceful prairies and rolling hills of North Dakota, the Peace Garden State.

A lot of Americans look to well-trod paths like California for diverse and beautiful landscapes. Few people remember that states in the interior of the country, like North Dakota, boast oddities such as the Badlands and locales like the Red River Valley. West of the Red River Valley is the Drift Prairie. About half of the land is made up of the hilly Great Plains, good for bird hunting in North Dakota.

The annual PLOTS guide, available online or in print, identifies which private and public lands are available for hunting in North Dakota. Over 700,000 acres of that land is managed by the State Land Department. There are also national wildlife refuges which cover more than 200,000 acres—many of which are great for hunting upland game.  

Species*Season**Daily / Possession Limit
Sharp-tailed grouseSept 12, 2020 – Jan 3, 20213 / 12
Ruffed grouseSept 12, 2020 – Jan 3, 20213 / 12
Hungarian partridgeSept 12, 2020 – Jan 3, 20213 / 12
Pheasant (youth)Oct 3 – 4, 20203 / 6
PheasantOct 10, 2020 – Jan 3, 20213 / 12
Sage Grouse and Prairie ChickenCLOSEDNONE
Tree squirrelSept 12, 2020 – Feb 28, 2021 4 / 12
DoveSept 1 – Nov 29, 202015 / 45
SnipeSept 12 – Dec 6, 20208 / 24
*These regulations were last updated on August 25, 2020 and may not reflect any changes since that date. For the most up-to-date information visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department

** Non-resident hunting is prohibited on PLOTS or State Wildlife Management Areas from Oct 10-16, 2020

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Upland hunters have enjoyed hunting the pheasant populations of America for generations. The southeastern region of North Dakota has especially good pheasant populations. Check out Crosby or Mott—a town considered by some to be the “Pheasant Capital of the Nation.” 

The season for pheasant runs from October 10 to January 3 with a daily bag limit of 3. 

North Dakota Pheasant

Sharp-Tailed Grouse 

Sharp-tailed grouse are a fairly common bird in North Dakota, though they have experienced some declines in recent years. They are most common in the Missouri Slope region and are fond of the mixed and short grass prairies there.

The season for sharp-tailed grouse runs from September 12 to January 3 with a daily bag limit of 3. 

Hungarian Partridge

Whether it’s the reason you’re in the field or if you’re just looking for a bonus bird while hunting grouse and pheasants, the Hungarian partridge is a great option for bird hunting in North Dakota. They are also known as the gray partridge, but many just call them Huns. This covey bird is common in places across the state and prefers areas with fertile soil, abandoned farmsteads, and native prairie.

The season opens September 12 and closes January 3. There is a daily bag limit of 3.

Dove, Ruffed Grouse, Snipe, and Other Small Game Species in North Dakota 

There are other great species available for small game hunting in North Dakota. The season for dove begins September 1 and ends November 29 with a daily bag limit of 15. The common snipe season runs from September 12 until December 6. The daily bag limit is 8. On the more uncommon side, American woodcock have a season for bird hunting in North Dakota. The season runs from September 26 to November 9 with a daily bag limit of 3. 

North Dakota, with Minnesota to the east of the Red River Valley, offers a unique chance to hunt ruffed grouse, too. The aspen forests in the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Hills are good places to look for ruffed grouse. The season for ruffed grouse is open from September 12 to January 3 with a daily bag limit of 3. 

Depending on the population levels, North Dakota may have seasons for prairie chicken and sage grouse, but in recent years these two species have been protected for conservation purposes.

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Ruffed Grouse Society 

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

North Dakota Hunting License Requirements and Fees

Fishing and Hunting Certificate$1$2
General Game and Habitat License$20$20
Small Game License – Annual$10
Small Game License – 14 day$100

The North Dakota Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training

The state of North Dakota requires anyone born after 1961 to complete an approved hunter education course before applying for a hunting license. People under the age of 12 are exempt as long as they are licensed and accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is an apprentice hunter validation option for anyone over the age of 12, but they must also be accompanied by a licensed adult. For more information, see the hunter course

From August 16 to May 31, you can train your dog for bird hunting in North Dakota on public land. If you train your dog on any Wildlife Management Area during closed season, you will be fined one hundred dollars.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the website for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department for the most up to date information on bird hunting in North Dakota.

View Comments (2)
  • Was in Bismarck area last December to pick out a new cocker spaniel pup and had a chance to do a half day hunt for wild pheasant over very well trained cockers. Four birds between breeder and me bagged with numerous additional flushes. Wish I could have stayed for two or three days!

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