As expected, North Dakota deer hunters took fewer deer last fall than in previous years, according to harvest statistics recently finalized by the State Game and Fish Department.
Slightly more than 95,000 hunters took more than 49,000 deer during the 2011 deer gun season. Hunter success was 51 percent, down from 64 percent in 2010 and well below the annual average of 70 percent during the past decade.
Randy Kreil, wildlife chief, said the final numbers were somewhat expected due to low deer numbers in many parts of the state following three consecutive difficult winters, and a past aggressive harvest approach on antlerless deer in units with deer numbers above management goals.
â€śThere is no question our deer population has been reduced because of these factors,â€ť Kreil said. â€śThis mild winter is exactly what is needed for the population to start rebounding. However, hunters should expect a lot fewer licenses this fall.â€ť
The Game and Fish Department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in the 2012 deer proclamation. These recommendations will be discussed at the upcoming Game and Fish advisory board meetings, scheduled for the week of April 9-13. The proclamation will be sent to the governorâ€™s office for approval in late April.
A number of population indices determine license numbers, including 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.
Game and Fish made available 109,900 deer gun licenses in 2011, with more than 97 percent issued to hunters.
Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 53 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 53 percent.
Mule deer buck success was 54 percent, while mule deer doe hunters had a success rate of 59 percent.
Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses almost exclusively harvest white-tailed deer. These buck hunters had a success rate of 50 percent, while doe hunters had a success rate of 54 percent.
Hunters drawing a muzzleloader license had a success rate of 35 percent, while young hunters during the youth season had a success rate of 48 percent.