OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Deer season set, online apps available

Deer season set, online apps available The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has announced another reduction in the number of deer gun licenses available this fall. The department is offering 43,275 deer gun licenses, 4,725 fewer than last ye...

Deer season set, online apps available

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has announced another reduction in the number of deer gun licenses available this fall.

The department is offering 43,275 deer gun licenses, 4,725 fewer than last year and the lowest number since 1978.

Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said deer populations remain well below management objectives in most units and continuing a conservative management approach is needed to help with recovery efforts.

North Dakota's deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 6 and continues through Nov. 22.


Any-antlerless (down 2,650 from last year) and any-antlered (down 1,150) licenses make up the majority of the reduction, while antlerless whitetail (down 800) and antlered whitetail (down 650) account for the remainder.

On a positive note, Williams said the mule deer population in the Badlands increased for the third consecutive year, with numbers showing the spring mule deer index is up 24 percent from last year.

Despite the increase, Game and Fish again this year will not offer antlerless mule deer licenses in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F. That applies to regular gun, resident and nonresident any-deer bow, gratis and youth licenses and marks the fourth year the department isn't offering antlerless mule deer tags .

The number of licenses available this fall includes 1,875 antlered mule deer tags, an increase of 525 from last year; 828 for muzzleloader, down 104 from last year; and 187 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an increase of 53 from last year.

Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader and resident gratis and nonresident landowner licenses are available 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 3.

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 cannot be processed without this information.

Gratis applications received on or before the June 3 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.

Game and Fish determines deer license numbers by harvest rates, aerial surveys, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.


-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Audit to target Minnesota deer management

At the urging of hunters and state legislators, a legislative audit will be conducted on the way the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages the state's deer population.

The decision to do the audit was made April 17 by the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor. A background paper issued by the auditor's office listed three possible "evaluation issues":

1. How does the DNR estimate and monitor Minnesota's deer population, and how do those methods compare with other estimation and monitoring approaches?

2. How does the DNR establish the state's deer population goals, and how does this compare with methods used by other states?

3. To what extent do the DNR's deer population goals reflect an appropriate balance between stakeholder interests?

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has expressed dissatisfaction with the DNR's ongoing deer population goal-setting process, saying hunters' views were not adequately weighed. But others on the goal-setting committees convened by the DNR felt deer hunters' opinions were adequately represented.


The auditor's office said in its background paper announcing the audit that assessing the DNR's deer population estimates would require technical expertise and that the office may need to hire a consultant familiar with the various factors involved in estimating wildlife populations.

Wisconsin recently went through a similar process, hiring an outside deer expert to evaluate the way the DNR manages the state's deer. One result of that process was the formation of citizen "deer committees" in each county statewide to offer input to the DNR.

-- Sam Cook, Forum News Service

Minnesota House passes omnibus legacy bill

The Minnesota House recently passed the omnibus legacy bill, HF 303, by a 97-31 margin. The measure would appropriate nearly $540 million from the state's Legacy Fund for the environment, arts, parks, trails and other state resources for the biennium, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association reported in its latest legislative update.

The funding as approved by House lawmakers breaks down as follows:

• Clean Water Fund: $226.2 million.

• Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund: $124.01 million.


• Outdoor Heritage Fund: $99.9 million.

• Parks and Trails Fund: $89.4 million.

The funds were created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment that Minnesota voters passed in 2008. It increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent until 2034, distributing the revenue raised to each fund based on percentages defined in the state constitution. Three of the funds receive biennial appropriations, while the OHF is an annual appropriation.


Bird commission OKs $58M funding package

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission last week approved $58 million in funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to purchase, lease or otherwise conserve more than 200,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across North America.

Of the total funds approved by the commission, $25 million will be provided through North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants to conserve more than 85,000 acres of wetlands and adjoining areas in 16 states.

In North Dakota, last week's funding announcement will help with phase eight of a multi-year effort to establish, enhance and protect valuable wetland and associated upland habitat. This phase will conserve more than 13,000 acres of habitat for northern pintail, long-billed curlew, mallard and many other species.


Grants require matching investments, and the approved projects will leverage an additional $58 million in nonfederal matching funds.

-- Herald staff report

Did you know?

• The 10th annual national Endangered Species Day is set for Friday, with special events and programs on tap across the country to recognize efforts to conserve and protect America's most imperiled species. For more information, including a list of events occurring throughout the country, go

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination for 10 a.m. July 17 to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test will be conducted at the department's main office in Bismarck. Applicants must register to take the exam no later than July 13, by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website. Info:

• A pilot project in Bemidji to increase biking by both residents and visitors is providing 200 bicycles to rent, including 10 bikes at Lake Bemidji State Park. The program, Nice Ride Bemidji, offers bike rentals for an hourly, daily or weekly fee. Normal rental rates for the bikes are $6 per hour, $25 per day or $80 per week. Info:

• The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is marking its 35th anniversary Aug. 20-21 with a celebration at Sugar Lake Lodge in Cohasset, Minn. Info:

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department stocked another batch of rainbow trout into the Turtle River on Monday at Turtle River State Park. Steve Crandall, park manager, said Game and Fish stocked 700 rainbows averaging about a half-pound each. A third stocking tentatively is scheduled for sometime shortly before Memorial Day, he said, and that will be it for this spring. A fourth stocking likely will occur about the third weekend in September after the river cools off a bit, Crandall said.


-- compiled by Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
What To Read Next
Get Local