Game and Fish to Hold Special Deer Season

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In an effort to encourage more white-tailed deer harvest in the state, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department will recommend to Governor John Hoeven that a special deer season be held in late December. This season will be for antlerless white-tailed deer only, and will be held statewide with the exception of several badlands units where whitetail deer populations are struggling to rebound from recent EHD disease outbreaks and remain below unit objectives.

So far this fall, the game and fish department has issued a record 139,000 deer licenses, already about 13,000 more than last year. However, as of November 15, more than 6,000 antlerless deer licenses were still available.

The supplemental season is scheduled for December 17 - 31, in all units except 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. The season is open to those who purchase remaining licenses, and to hunters who have unfilled antlerless whitetail, or "any-antlerless" licenses from the regular deer gun season.

Hunters who have unfilled antlered (buck) deer licenses may not hunt in the supplemental season. As in the regular deer gun season, hunters must hunt only in the unit designated on their license.

"Some of these units have licenses remaining and others may be experiencing a lesser harvest due to a variety of reasons," said Randy Kreil, chief of the department's wildlife division. "We know we still might not issue all the remaining licenses and not everyone with a license will get a deer during the December season, but we needed to make an extra effort to provide additional opportunities for harvest."

The special season will also give landowners who may have experienced deer depredation problems in past winters, a chance to allow hunters to reduce deer numbers in localized areas, Kreil added.

The 2004 supplemental season marks only the third time in recent history that game and fish has added to the regular deer gun season. The last time was in 1996, primarily in the eastern part of the state, when a severe snowstorm during the second weekend of the season significantly limited travel and hunting activity. Prior to that, a supplemental season was held in 1986, also due to a significant snowstorm on opening weekend.

"This is a different set of circumstances, "Kreil said, "and hopefully we may never have to do it again. Deer numbers are above our management goals in some units. This supplemental season will help us get closer to those goals this year."

Following are additional supplemental season details.

* Game and fish will issue remaining licenses to interested resident and nonresident hunters continuously through Dec. 31. These licenses can also be used by bow hunters during the bow season, and muzzle-loader hunters during the muzzle-loader season, but only in the unit assigned on the license. Licenses can be purchased at the game and fish department's Web site, at discovernd.com/gnf; in person at the game and fish Bismarck office; or by mail at the game and fish Bismarck office. People interested in these licenses should allow at least two days for processing and mailing.

* Hunters who have unfilled licenses for antlerless whitetails, or any-antlerless deer, in the open units simply need to keep their unfilled license until the supplemental season.

* Supplemental season licenses are the same price as regular season licenses -- $20 for residents and $55 for nonresidents.

* Unsuccessful youth deer hunters and unsuccessful gratis license holders can participate in the special deer season, but may only harvest antlerless white-tailed deer.

* Bow hunters are reminded that orange clothing requirement are in effect for the open units during the special deer season.

* All other regular deer gun season rules and regulations apply to the special deer season.

* For more information contact: Randy Kreil, ND Game and Fish Wildlife Chief, 701-328-6351 or Greg Link, ND Game and Fish Assistant Wildlife Chief, 701-328-6351