Deer hunters can expect some refuge road closures due to construction and wet conditions
Posted 11/01/11 (Tue)
By Caroline Downs
When North Dakota’s deer rifle season opens Friday, hunters in the Kenmare area may find themselves walking more and complaining about the wet spring and summer conditions that are keeping several roads closed on the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
“We will have signs up,” said Des Lacs NWR manager Chad Zorn, “but we want hunters to know they should expect problems with the traditional retrieval roads.”
Rifle hunting for deer is permitted on the Refuge in accordance with North Dakota hunting regulations. Deer rifle hunting on the Refuge is open in state units 3A2 and 3A3. Hunters must possess and carry a tag designated for either of those units while hunting on the Refuge.
Retrieval roads are open from 6 pm to 8 pm on opening day, and from 11 am to 2 pm during the remainder of the season. Retrieval roads on the Refuge will be posted and include the Canada Goose Trail and the White-tailed deer Trail from the Brickyard Hill to the Baden overpass.
The Boat Dock Road north of Kenmare remains under construction and will be closed to all motorized traffic, including ATVs and UTVs, during deer season as that construction continues.
“It is not closed to foot access,” said Jennifer Jewett, education and outreach coordinator for the Des Lacs NWR. “Hunters can park at either end, but beyond those points it’s walking access. We also ask that hunters use extreme caution around the construction crews and equipment still working in there.”
The Boat Dock Road has been closed to public access all summer and fall as CP Railway crews and road construction crews have worked to repair damages caused by the sloughing of water-logged hillsides last spring. Trains have been operating again since July, but CP Railway continues to have crews working on a hillside stabilization project along the refuge.
The Boat Dock Road remains under construction. “That construction will continue seven days a week for now, is my understanding,” said Zorn. “When it’s done, the new road will handle heavy equipment and wet conditions better.”
Construction also continues on the South Lake Road for an approximately one-mile stretch from just north of Munch’s Coulee to north of the private residence adjacent to the refuge. “That is totally closed to vehicle traffic,” Zorn said, “but hunters can still walk in and hunt there.”
“Again, hunters need to use extreme caution around the construction workers and equipment there,” added Jewett.
Zorn said refuge staff would be working during the week to mark the retrieval roads, most of which have suffered damage from hillside slumping and cave-ins thanks to saturated soils. “We will do the best job we can with signs and barricades to inform the public,” he said. “There will be notices on the gates, but hunters should expect problems and be aware they may have to turn around and come out the same way they drove in.”
He and Jewett noted that barricades would be placed in locations with enough space for vehicles to park and turn around. “Most of our roads are not completely through-roads at this time,” said Jewett.
Refuge personnel have made progress clearing some roads of soil and debris. “Our intention is to fix all this,” said Zorn. “We’re just not going to get it done this year, so on opening day of deer season we will have refuge personnel at a couple of these gates to assist hunters.”
Information about the retrieval road closures will be posted on the refuge’s website (listed below) and the Des Lacs Refuge Facebook page in an attempt to reach as many hunters as possible. “We hope to have the information out there so hunters don’t end up shooting deer in an area where they’re going to have difficulty getting it out,” said Zorn.
All other Refuge roads and trails are closed to motorized vehicles, including ATVs and UTVs.
Deer rifle season closes on Sunday, November 20, 2011.
Refuge open to
fall hunting opportunities
The Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge opened for archery season in September and closes January 8, 2012. Hunters need to have a valid North Dakota bow license but do not need to obtain a special refuge permit. Hunters must follow the state hunting and Refuge regulations. Most of the refuge is open for hunting, but the area immediately around refuge headquarters is closed for safety.
Fall turkey season opened in October and closes January 8, 2012. Turkey hunting is allowed on the Refuge, and hunters will need to follow state hunting regulations and have a valid North Dakota turkey license. No special refuge permit is necessary.
Muzzleloader hunting is permitted on the Refuge in accordance with state regulations. The season opens November 25, 2011, at noon and closes December 11th. Muzzleloader hunters are required to have a special permit from the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.
Remember, the area around the city of Kenmare is closed to hunters for safety, and detailed maps highlighting the closed areas are available. Hunters must be responsible for knowing where the closed areas are on the Refuge.
Hunters are reminded to report any poachers or hunting violations by calling the toll-free Report All Poachers (RAP) number at 1-800-472-2121. The call can be made anywhere within North Dakota free of charge, 24 hours a day. The state’s wildlife resources belong to all of us, and when poachers take over the limit, or hunt or fish during a closed season, they reduce the opportunity for law-abiding residents to enjoy these resources. With continued cooperation among sportsmen, landowners and concerned citizens, opportunities to view and hunt animals will available in the future.
Call with questions
The Des Lacs Refuge office is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. Hunters and others may call refuge manager Chad Zorn at 701-385-4046 ext. 225 with any questions about hunting access or retrieval roads.