Deer, Celebrating 125 Years Outdoors 2015 North Dakota


Article By 
Ron Wilson


The first official deer gun season was held in North Dakota in 1931. In the first 20-plus years, however, there were several interruptions as the state allowed just 13 seasons. During that same stretch, the highest number of licenses the Game and Fish Department made available to hunters was about 41,000 in 1952. The season was closed in 1953.

Back up to 1915, however, and it’s a wonder the white-tailed deer population grew to a point to even hold a season. Because there were so few deer at the time, wildlife officials feared what would be unthinkable today – that North Dakota’s deer were nearing extinction.

Fast forward nearly 90 years and things had drastically changed.

Starting in 2001, the Department made available more than 100,000 deer licenses – more than double the estimated statewide deer population in 1952 – every year until 2012.


Agency officials repeatedly announced that these were certainly the good old days of deer hunting in North Dakota, but they also tempered the pronouncement with a warning that it wouldn’t last. Today, just 48,000 deer gun licenses were offered to hunters, the lowest total since the early 1980s.