Deer Season Closer
Today is often a date serving as the last day of the deer gun season in North Dakota, as it did in 2013. The state’s deer gun season opens at noon on the Friday designated by gubernatorial proclamation, typically the first Friday in November. The 16-and-a-half-day season usually closes on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is responsible for regulating the state’s deer gun season, including distribution of licenses and imposing limits on certain animals. The state’s deer population has trended downward in recent years due to brutal winters and habitat loss. While white-tailed deer are down in number, mule deer of the North Dakota badlands are up. However, licenses for antlerless mule deer have not been available since 2011 to help the doe population recover. Mule deer licenses in North Dakota’s badlands are among the most sought after.
Overall, about 43,000 deer licenses were made available in the 2015 lottery, about 5,000 less than 2014. North Dakota’s deer lottery is luck of the draw as licenses are distributed by chance. However, a bonus point system allows applicants who missed out on a tag in previous years to essentially have their name in the lottery multiple times. Applicants losing in the lottery are then given “cubed” bonus points, generating multiple entries. In theory, an applicant can go 10 years without drawing a license, at which point their application has 730 entries in the lottery. This lottery style distribution can cause frustration in years with high numbers of applications and low numbers of deer.
Over 85,000 people applied for half as many deer gun licenses in 2015. This is a far cry from previous years when 150,000 licenses were available, before habitat loss took its toll along with a the deadly winters. Game and Fish determines its license numbers through aerial surveys, public input and even data from vehicle-deer collisions.
Game and Fish places general hunter success at 70 percent, though in 2013 that stood at 60%, and 2014, 55 percent.
Dakota Datebook written by Jack Dura