Many Antlerless Deer Licenses Available

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January 1-9 are the dates to note for deer hunters looking for additional opportunity to round out their 2004 hunting seasons. With the exception of special buck licenses, all unfilled and unsold West River deer, East River deer and regular archery "any deer" tags will serve as "any antlerless deer" permits. As well, "any whitetail deer" permits will serve as "antlerless whitetail deer" permits, and "any mule deer" permits will serve as "antlerless mule deer" permits.

Game, Fish and Parks officials say that there are close to 8,000 antlerless deer licenses still for sale for these hunting seasons that reopen in early January 2005.

"The harvest of does is a crucial part of our deer management," said Tony Leif, game program administrator for GFP. "Hunters are the most cost effective and most efficient management tool we have for controlling deer populations. We rely on hunters to harvest the antlerless deer numbers that we require to effectively manage South Dakota’s deer herd."

There are more than 4,000 permits still available for hunting the West River deer units. All these unsold permits are valid for the season extension from Jan. 1-9 on private land only. In addition, any West River deer tag from the regular season that has not been filled is valid for hunting this season as an antlerless deer permit. Also included are the unfilled antlerless tags from the October West River deer seasons in Jones, Lyman and Mellette counties.

There are more than 1,300 East River deer permits available for the Jan. 1-9 extension of that season. The same conversion applies to regular East River deer permits that were not filled during the regular season. Both public and private land in the East River deer units are open during the extended East River deer season.

In addition, seasons for muzzleloader-only firearms and archery "antlerless deer" hunting run through Jan. 31, 2005. There are approximately 1,500 permits still available for the muzzleloader season, and 1,100 for the antlerless archery deer season. Both archery antlerless deer and muzzleloader-only tags can be purchased throughout the season but must be applied for by paper application.

Lastly, all regular archery "any deer" tags that are unused will convent to "any antlerless deer" tags on Jan. 1 and will be valid through Jan. 31. Sales of these regular archery tags will cease on Dec. 31. Until then, regular archery tags can be purchased online with a credit card at www.sdgfp.info or by sending a paper application.

Leif emphasized that GFP has liberalized the sale of deer permits to make it easier for hunters to harvest antlerless deer.

Big game firearms licenses are normally not available through online application after the seasons third drawing. Recently, however, the online sale of East and West River deer licenses has been allowed. A hunter may purchase his or her East or West River deer license online, print out a receipt of the purchase, take the receipt to a designated license agent and pick up the tags and head out for the hunt. Muzzleloader-only and archery antlerless licenses must be acquired by mailing a completed paper application. Applications can be printed from the GFP website at www.sdgfp.info.

Hunters may purchase up to five deer permits for each separate season. A two-tag license counts as one permit. "There is the potential for a hunter to harvest many deer," Leif said, "and that is exactly what we need to have happen. The importance of this antlerless deer harvest can not be stressed enough. While I appreciate the joy of taking a big buck, I hope every hunter will extend the joy of their regular deer seasons by taking additional does. Hunters play a huge part of deer management in South Dakota, and this is their chance to step forward and do their part. Thanks to hunters in South Dakota, the harvest of does will lead to a more manageable deer herd."