North Dakota Online Hunting and Fishing Licenses,Doug Leier
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North Dakota Online Hunting and Fishing Licenses

With the possible exception of a first driver’s license, few people spin a nostalgic tale about buying a license “back in the day.”

In fact, I struggle trying to come up with any story associated renewal of my North Dakota driver’s license. Same goes for my fishing license, except perhaps buying a trout stamp when they were required, pasting it to the back of my hunting and fishing certificate, then heading off to Moon Lake where trout were abundant and sometimes large.

Nowadays, a lot of anglers and hunters are bypassing the rather unremarkable stops for licenses at bait shops, sporting goods outlets or convenience stores and purchasing their licenses in even less memorable fashion at the home or office computer.

Fishing at sunsetSince April 1 marks the new licensing season for angling, general game, habitat, small game and furbearer licenses, it’s a good time to promote the benefits of buying online at the Game and Fish Department’s website,

It's been nearly 10 years since Game and Fish first offered license sales over its website. While I had always enjoyed a sort of nostalgic connection with the annual ritual of filling out the paper form, the reality is that a couple of times I had to struggle to find a license vendor conveniently located on the way to the water. Who hasn't found themselves on a bright spring day when the stars align and an afternoon opens up for that first outing, but you spend more time looking to buy the license than actually fishing. 

A few years ago one of those day's materialized, not just for me, but for my wife and kids as well. While my wife was organizing the snacks, hats and jackets, I sat down at the computer and bought our fishing licenses in a matter of minutes, printed them off, and we were out the door and on our way.
Shopping online for licenses doesn’t prevent me from stopping at gas stations, hardware stores and sporting goods retailers. While for several years now I have purchased my licenses at the Game and Fish website, I still need bait and bobbers, a soda and my pork rinds. It’s just that having a license in my pocket already when I head out the door for that first trip of the year, means I don’t have to spend any time searching for a license vendor if one is not located on the direct route to my fishing destination.

These days, I should also note that some places that sell paper licenses also provide electronic licensing. It just takes an Internet connection and a printer. In fact, any business that has a computer is a potential license vendor.

In addition to convenience, the choice to purchase license online has a practical side. If you wash, lose or misplace the old yellow fishing license, you have to apply for a duplicate, which costs a few dollars, in addition to the few days it takes to get a new license back in your hands.
Now, if I lose my license I just go back online and print another one. Some people I know print several to start with, so they have a license in their tackle box, vehicle and wallet.

Do I miss some of the connections to fishing routines of the past? Sure, but given the choices available now, I'll trade those for the convenience modern technology allows. And I’d venture to guess that anyone who switches to buying licenses or filling out applications online will never want to go back to the paper way.

Doug Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by


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