Deer Hunting Numbers in North Dakota

April 8, 2015 by  

by Doug Leier


One of the primary benchmarks that North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists use to assess deer populations and hunter satisfaction is the success rate by gun hunters.

Over time, a success rate of around 70 percent means hunters are generally satisfied with deer numbers and hunting opportunities.

Last year, the Game and Fish Department made available 48,000 deer gun licenses, and all licenses were issued. About 43,500 of those who were issued deer gun licenses actually hunted, taking approximately 26,300 deer, for a success rate of about 60 percent. Each hunter spent an average of 4.4 days in the field.

150408 deer hunting success

While 60 percent success is somewhat below the 70 percent benchmark, it is a bit higher than the 55 percent overall hunter success in 2013.

While 60 percent success is somewhat below the 70 percent benchmark, it is a bit higher than the 55 percent overall hunter success in 2013.

Among the various license types, hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 60 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 56 percent.

Mule deer buck success was 82 percent. Game and Fish did not issue any mule deer doe licenses in 2014.

Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses generally harvest white-tailed deer, as these licenses are predominantly in units with mostly whitetails. Buck hunters had a success rate of 65 percent, while doe hunters had a success rate of 63 percent.

Game and Fish issued 932 muzzleloader licenses in 2014, and 814 muzzleloader hunters harvested 356 white-tailed deer (171 antlered, 185 antlerless). Hunter success was 44 percent, with each hunter spending an average of 5.4 days in the field.

In addition, a record 23,450 people purchased archery licenses (21,500 resident, 1,950 nonresident) in 2014. Of those archery license holders, 19,918 actually hunted and harvested 6,046 deer (5,593 whitetails, 453 mule deer), for a success rate of 30 percent. Bucks accounted for 78 percent of the harvest. Archers spent an average of 10.7 days afield.

The Game and Fish Department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in the 2015 deer proclamation. In addition to harvest rates and surveys, Game and Fish biologists monitor a number of other population indices to determine license numbers, as well as depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and agency field staff.

Typically, the deer proclamation process and governor’s approval is completed in late April.




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