Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said after a significant reduction in gun licenses in 2012, harvest and survey data revealed deer populations are still below management objectives in most units.
“The statewide hunter success rate in 2012 was 63 percent, which is higher than in 2011 (52 percent), but is still lower than our goal of 70 percent,” Kreil said. “The decrease of licenses in 2013 is necessary to allow deer populations to increase toward management goals.”
Winter aerial surveys showed deer numbers were down from 2011 levels in the northern and eastern portions of the state, specifically units 1, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2K1, 2K2, and 3A1. Kreil said although deer are still below management objectives in 2A, 2F1 and 2F2, aerial surveys showed numbers were slightly above levels recorded in 2011 or 2012.
“The winter of 2012-13 was severe in the northern and eastern portions of the state, which will impede population recovery in those areas,” Kreil said. “Furthermore, high quality deer habitat continues to be lost statewide and will limit the potential for population recovery.”
Currently, all hunting units in the state are below management objectives except in 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 4F.
Out west, mule deer licenses in the badlands will decrease slightly this year. As was the case last year, 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.
According to Kreil, the spring mule deer survey did show positive trends, with numbers up 15 percent over last year. “This modest increase indicates the mild winter of 2011 and no doe harvest in 2012 might be having a positive effect on the mule deer herd,” he added. “With the no-doe-harvest regulation remaining in place for 2013, there may be some reason for optimism concerning mule deer.”
Hunters are able to draw one license for the deer gun season and one for the muzzleloader season, and purchase an archery license. Like last year, 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 2013 is 1,150 antlered mule deer, a decrease of 50 mule deer licenses from last year; 1,166 for muzzleloader, down 116 from last year; and 115 restricted youth antlered mule deer, a decrease of five from last year.
North Dakota’s 2013 deer gun season opens Nov. 8 at noon and continues through Nov. 24. Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader, and resident gratis and nonresident landowner seasons will be available May 13 through the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov. Also, paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state the week of May 13. The deadline for applying is June 5.
Bow hunters should note that both resident and nonresident archery licenses this year are available only through the department’s Bismarck office or website, or by calling (800) 406-6409. Archery tags will not be sold over the counter at license vendor locations in 2013.
Gratis and nonresident landowner applicants will want to take note of a new law passed recently by the state legislature. House Bill 1131 reduces the number of acres required to qualify from 160 to 150. In addition, gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline (June 5) will be issued any-legal-deer license. Applications received after the deadline will be issued based on licenses remaining after the lottery – generally only antlerless licenses remain.
HB 1131 also allows residents who turn age 12 in 2013 to receive an antlerless white-tailed deer license, and allows an individual who turns 14 this year to receive one deer license valid for the youth deer season. Previously, a young hunter had to turn the appropriate age prior to the end of the respective big game season.
Total deer licenses are determined by harvest rates, aerial surveys, deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.