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N.D. announces another reduction in deer gun licenses

There’ll be even fewer hunting opportunities for this year’s deer gun season, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported this week.

The department is offering 48,000 licenses this fall, down 11,500 from last year and the lowest number since 1980.

According to Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the Game and Fish in Bismarck, deer populations lag below management goals in most of the state, even after five years of reducing gun licenses.

Only units 3F1, 3F2 and 4F in the southwest part of the state meet or exceed management goals.

“Harvest and survey data indicate deer numbers are still declining, especially in the eastern part of the state,” Kreil said.

In northeast North Dakota, Game and Fish is offering 1,100 buck tags in Unit 2B, down 400 from last year, and 900 any antlerless permits, down 600 from last year. There are 600 buck tags available in 2C, down 400 from last year, and 400 any antlerless permits, down 600 from last year.

Game and Fish is offering 400 buck tags and 400 any-antlerless tags in 2D, a decline of 400 for each from last year.

Statewide hunter success last fall was 55 percent, which is lower than 2012 (63 percent) and well below the department’s goal of 70 percent.

Adequate snow cover needed for winter aerial surveys occurred only in the northeast. Results showed deer numbers were down 21 percent in Unit 2C and 29 percent in Unit 2D.

Statewide, Kreil said high quality deer habitat continues to be lost and will limit the potential for population recovery.

Out west, Game and Fish is offering a modest increase in antlered mule deer licenses. But as was the case the past two years, no antlerless mule deer licenses are available in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F. This restriction applies to regular gun, resident and nonresident any-deer bow, gratis and youth licenses.

Hunters still are able to draw one license for the deer gun season and one for the muzzleloader season, and purchase an archery license. There is no concurrent season, and a hunter cannot receive more than one license for the deer gun season.

The number of licenses available for this fall includes 1,350 for antlered mule deer, an increase of 200 from last year; 932 for muzzleloader, down 270 from last year; and 134 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an increase of 19 from last year.

North Dakota’s 2014 deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 7 and continues through Nov. 23. Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader and resident gratis and nonresident landowner seasons will be available MondayMay 5 through the Game and Fish Department’s website at Also, paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state by mid-May. The deadline for applying is June 4.

A new state law requires residents age 18 or older to prove residency on the application by submitting a valid North Dakota driver’s license number or a North Dakota nondriver photo identification number. Applications will not be processed without this information.

Gratis applications received on or before the June 4 regular deer gun lottery application deadline will be issued a license for any legal deer. As per state law, applications received after the deadline will be issued based on licenses remaining after the lottery — generally only antlerless licenses remain.

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