Native Americans, the beautiful Badlands, and lots of farmland are what most people think of when North Dakota comes up.

This northern state shares a border with Canada, and the landmass is about 90 percent farms and ranches. The major cities of Bismark and Fargo offer plenty of cultural activities and museums. It is also the least-visited state in the US, making it a great place for a getaway vacation without the huge crowds found in popular tourist destinations in other states.

North Dakota Hunts


The state has six big game species: bighorn sheep, elk, moose, pronghorn, whitetail, and mule deer. Twelve species of migratory waterfowl, including tundra swan and sandhill cranes, are on the list. Other birds include pheasant and wild turkey. The cougar hunt is extremely limited and the season closes when a set number of the cats are killed.

The great hunting and weighted lottery system for hunting permits are the reasons so many hunters keep coming back. Every year you apply for a license and do not get drawn, you earn points for next year’s lottery. Points can roll over if you skip a year, but miss two years in a row and your bonus points are wiped out. Deer bow hunting tags are over the counter.


Agriculture is the reason North Dakota is a destination for big deer hunters. The row crops provide critical food the bucks need to develop big racks. Light hunting pressure means the deer are easier to find and kill than some other states. At the same time, the northern location of the state means weather conditions are a factor that must be considered. “For most of the deer season, the hunter’s number-one concern is how to stay warm while hunting. We often have minus-zero temperatures in North Dakota and the possibility of 100 inches of snow, all factors that discourage deer hunters,” writes Travis Leier, part of the Mossy Oak pro staff.

The hunters willing to brave these temperatures have an excellent chance of putting a big one on the wall. “North Dakota has produced the third most Pope and Young bucks of any state in recent years. Archery hunters see a 35 percent success rate, muzzleloaders a 47 percent rate, and rifle hunters nearly a 70 percent rate,” says Realtree.

The state is divided into units for gun hunting for deer. Outdoor Life provides an annual breakdown of the best units for deer.

Whitetail in the Peace Garden State are not as common as other states. Realtree gives the state a C grade for whitetails. The eastern two-thirds of the state, the plains regions, have the highest concentrations of whitetails. Mule deer are mostly found in the Badlands, especially along the Little Missouri River.


The state is not considered a top location for North America’s biggest ungulate, but it does have moose. The elk population is good, but not great. Getting a non-resident permit for either one of these hunts means winning the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation/Game Warden Museum annual raffle. Otherwise, these permits are for residents only. Using North Dakota hunting guides and outfitters will maximize your chances of filling your tag.


North Dakota is in the Central Flyway and is home to the heaviest concentration of Ducks Unlimited projects in this flyway.

With more than a dozen species of waterfowl, the state has one of the best hunting grounds around. Of all the waterfowl, only the tundra swan is a draw permit. Non-toxic shots are required for waterfowl. Depending on the species, shot size ranges from No. 4 to FF for the biggest birds. North Dakota hunting guides and outfitters know where the birds are and can set decoy spreads to draw them in.

Several other bird species are also hunted in North Dakota, including the sandhill crane. Crane permits are over the counter. Magnum loads with T-FF shots are best because these are big birds, standing four feet tall.

Sharptail and ruffed grouse, pheasant and Hungarian partridge are open to everyone. Depending on the population count, sage and pinnated grouse, better known as the greater prairie chicken may or may not have a season. Hunting these all birds is best done with dogs. The dogs can track, point, and retrieve downed birds much better than a person. No. 6 shot is recommended with 12 gauge the preferred shotgun,

Turkey hunting is for residents only.

North Dakota Hunting Trips

Make the most of your hunting trip to North Dakota. Get a guide who knows where the animals are and can put you on them. has the guides; Let us connect you to them.

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