A total of 57,949 North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 37,250 deer during the 2019 deer gun hunting season, according to a post-season survey conducted by the state Game and Fish Department.
Game and Fish made available 65,500 deer gun licenses last year. Overall hunter success was 64%, with each hunter spending an average of 4.3 days in the field.
Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 64%, and antlerless whitetail was 58%.
Mule deer buck success was 78%, and antlerless mule deer was 79%.
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 68%, while doe hunters had a success rate of 65%.
Game and Fish issued 11,981 gratis licenses in 2019, and 9,767 hunters harvested 5,416 deer, for a success rate of 56%.
A total of 1,206 muzzleloader licenses were issued in 2019, and 1,040 hunters harvested 426 white-tailed deer (222 antlered, 204 antlerless). Hunter success was 41%.
A total of 27,582 archery licenses (24,902 resident, 2,680 nonresident) were issued in 2019. In total, 21,960 bow hunters harvested 8,978 deer (7,988 whitetails, 990 mule deer), for a success rate of 41%.
The department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in 2020. In addition to harvest rates and winter aerial surveys, Game and Fish staff monitor other population indices to determine license numbers, including depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board.
The Department’s annual spring aerial mule deer survey is set to begin April 1 in western North Dakota. Weather permitting, the survey takes about two weeks to complete. During the survey period, people could notice low-flying small airplanes over some parts of the badlands.
Game and Fish biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 badlands study areas since the 1950s. The purpose of the survey is to determine a population index to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands.