Hunting and Firearms
By Capt. Brandon M. Bierlein , Legal Office
/ Published September 16, 2014
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports bring people together, create great memories and promote physical fitness. While North Dakota's stunning natural scenery can make a northern tier assignment worth the winters, running a-"fowl" of North Dakota's game laws and Minot Air Force Base's firearm regulations can ruin all that nature has to offer.
Penalties for violating base regulations on firearm registration can result in UCMJ punishment, forfeiture of pay, confinement, firearm confiscation or eviction from base housing. Breaking North Dakota's game laws can mean jail time, thousands of dollars in fines and suspension of all hunting privileges. Moreover, North Dakota is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, so getting a hunting license suspended in North Dakota could mean losing hunting privileges for up to three years across the United States.
Concealed Carry Permits: Concealed firearms are not allowed on base or while hunting in North Dakota, even if the member has a valid concealed carry permit.
Firearms on base: Military members who do not reside on base may bring firearms and ammunition onto base only to attend authorized activities immediately after work. Authorized activities include target and trap shooting or hunting. When transported, firearms should be stored in the trunk or another secured compartment in the rear of the vehicle and be cleared, with the safety on and the breech open. Firearms brought onto base for any other reason should be registered and stored at the 5th Security Forces Squadron Armory, located at 330 Tanker Trail.
All personnel living on-base must register their firearms at the armory. Residents living in privatized housing may store their registered firearms in their residences. Dormitory, Temporary Lodging Facility or billeting residents must store their firearms at the Armory. They may not store their firearms with residents living in privatized housing.
North Dakota hunting rules: North Dakota is an open range state. An open range state means hunters may hunt on any land more than a quarter of a mile from a habitable structure unless that land is clearly marked by signs specifically prohibiting hunting. Minot AFB members can save hundreds of dollars on most hunting and fishing licenses because active-duty military members qualify for resident fee rates. Resident license fees are often 90 percent lower than non-resident fees. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department makes buying licenses easy. Licenses may be purchased online at their website (http://gf.nd.gov) and downloaded to any computer or smartphone. Since many fishing and hunting locations don't have reliable cell service, hunters and fishermen should download their hunting license to their phones, or print out their license and take a photograph, if they prefer to not carry the paper license with them.
Local game wardens say many Minot AFB hunters are often fined because they're not aware of some North Dakota-specific hunting rules. For example, North Dakota prohibits off-trail hunting, meaning deer and other game must be tagged before a hunter drives off-trail to retrieve it, and spotlighting game, even with headlights, is illegal.
These rules are not exhaustive. Please consult the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website for more information on hunting rules in North Dakota. Questions regarding firearms on Minot AFB should be referred to Minot AFB Police Services at 723-4434.