North Dakota 2018 Deer Outlook August 31, 2018

White-tailed Deer 

Game and Fish made available 55,150 licenses for the 2018 hunting season, an increase of 650 from 2017.

The statewide deer gun hunter success rate in 2017 was 61 percent, a little lower than in 2016 (66 percent), and below the Department goal of 70 percent.

The winter of 2017-18 was a mixed bag. Conditions over much of the state were mild to moderate. However, northeastern North Dakota received some late winter snow causing prolonged winter conditions.

Landowners interested in having more antlerless deer harvested are encouraged to call Game and Fish at 701-328-6300, and Department personnel will direct the number of doe hunters landowners are comfortable hosting.

Population and harvest data indicate that the state’s deer population is stable to increasing, but still well below management goals. Deer numbers remain below objectives in most hunting units due to prolonged effects of severe winters in 2008-09 and 2010-11, which not only increased adult mortality, but also reduced fawn production.

The extreme winter conditions followed nearly a decade of aggressive deer management that featured large numbers of antlerless licenses in most units. In addition, the northeastern part of the state also experienced severe winters during 2012-13 and 2013-14, which continued to impede population recovery.

Further, high-quality deer habitat is not as abundant as in the past, which limits the potential for population recovery. For example, deer numbers in hunting units 2E and 2C in northeastern North Dakota have not responded to more favorable winter weather conditions and reduced harvest. These hunting units have lost approximately 60 percent of CRP grass cover and nearly 400 acres of trees.

Conditions for winter aerial surveys were generally poor throughout the state, so only two of the 32 hunting units with monitoring blocks were flown. Biologists surveyed units 3A1 and 3B3 in March, and deer numbers were stable in 3A1 and increasing in 3B3.

North Dakota 2018 Year in Review January 2019, North Dakota Outdoors Magazine
... Deer populations, particularly mule deer, continued to do fairly well, following some difficult winters and declining numbers. Whitetail numbers, while on an upward trend, are still a bit below Department goals for most hunting units..,
Mule Deer

Mule deer in North Dakota’s badlands continue to show signs of recovery following the severe winters of 2008-10, which resulted in deer numbers declining by nearly 50 percent.

Mule deer densities this year remain high and are similar to last year. The 2018 spring index was 6 percent lower than the 2017 index, but still 45 percent above the long-term average.

The mule deer population increase is attributed to no harvest of antlerless mule deer in the badlands during the 2012-16 seasons, more moderate winter conditions, and improved fawn production in 2013-17. Fawn production was highest in 2014 and 2016, with fawn-to-doe ratios of 95 and 90 fawns per 100 does, respectively.

An increasing mule deer population will mean more hunting opportunities this fall. There were 2,600 antlered mule deer licenses available in 2018, an increase of 150 from 2017. Antlerless mule deer licenses were also increased from 900 to 1,450 in 2018. All mule deer units will have antlerless licenses except 4A, where the population remains below management goals.

A mule deer buck license remains one of the most difficult licenses to draw in the lottery. Those lucky enough to draw a license should expect a high-quality hunt. Hunter success for mule deer buck hunters was 83 percent in 2017.

While another year of a population increase is encouraging, mule deer in the badlands face many challenges, such as encroachment of juniper in mule deer habitat, direct and indirect habitat loss due to energy development, predators and variable weather conditions.

Bruce Stillings, Big Game Management Supervisor, Dickinson

Deer Hunting Season Outlook & Rules October 23, 2018 North Dakota,
... according to Greg Gullickson with Game and Fish - the outlook this year looks better than last years... mule deer - mostly found in the southwest part of the state are increasing.  White tail deer across the state are also steadily increasing..,

North Dakota Deer Preview November 4, 2018 Grand Forks Herald
... After peaking in the mid-2000s, deer numbers plummeted during a series of three severe winters in the later part of the decade. Coupled with declining habitat, especially in the eastern part of the state, deer numbers in many areas have been slow to recover..,