From the North Dakota Fish and Game Department
-- North Dakota deer hunters took nearly 75,000 deer during the 2009 deer gun hunting season, making overall hunter success 59 percent, down from 70 percent in 2008.
The deer population was down from previous years because of the severe winter of 2008-09, according to Bill Jensen, big game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “We were issuing record to near-record licenses for a number of years because of the high deer population. After the severe winter, the drop in the population was noticeable.”
Jensen said the department kept the pressure on whitetails in many units in 2009 because deer numbers were still above management goals. “In the past under similar situations, we lightened up on license numbers too quickly, and the population rebounded almost immediately to numbers well above goals,” he said. Game and Fish allocated 144,400 deer gun licenses in 2009, and more than 98 percent were issued to hunters.
Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 69 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 61 percent.
Mule deer buck success was 73 percent, while mule deer doe hunters had a success rate of 74 percent.
Hunters with any-antlered licenses had a success rate of 59 percent, while any-antlerless license holders had a success rate of 56 percent.
Hunters drawing a muzzleloader license had a success rate of 34 percent, while youth deer season hunters had a success rate of 51 percent.
Significant snow cover this past winter enabled the Game and Fish Department to conduct aerial white-tailed deer surveys in January and February. Results indicate deer numbers were hit hardest in the east.
Unit 2A in the southeast showed the largest decline in the population from the previous winter at more than 60 percent. Other units showing a decrease in numbers were 1, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F1, 2F2, 2G, 2G1, 2G2, 2I, 2J1 and 2J2. Deer numbers in Unit 2K2, however, showed a stable to increasing population. Units 2B and 2H remained stable.
In the western half of the state, whitetail numbers remained stable to above management goals along the South Dakota border. Unit 3A1 in the northwest showed a slight increase in numbers, while 3A3 remained stable. Units 3D1, 3D2, 3E1 and 3E2 showed declines.
Department biologists are in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in the 2010 deer proclamation, which will be sent to the governor’s office for approval in late April.
Deer license numbers are determined by evaluating hunter harvest and deer survey data, deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.