Record Number of Deer Licenses Set

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The 2004 deer proclamation sets the stage for a season like no other, as regulations will allow hunters to take a record number of deer this fall.

For the fourth consecutive year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has set a new standard for the number of deer gun licenses available, according to Randy Kreil, game and fish wildlife division chief. The figure established for 2004 is 145,250 licenses, an increase of 21,775 from 2003.

This aggressive approach is needed this year, and possibly next, to reduce deer numbers to unit management goals, Kreil said. "Several mild winters and the resulting increase in reproductive success have raised the state's white-tailed deer population above management objectives in many units in eastern and northern North Dakota," he said.

Nearly 21,000 of the additional licenses are for antlerless white-tailed deer, Kreil said. Over the past several years, overall license numbers for antlerless white-tailed deer have increased significantly in some units. At the same time, antlered deer licenses have remained constant, or increased only slightly.

Mule deer licenses are up from 2003 due to population increases, Kreil mentioned, a result from the department's continuing conservative approach to managing mule deer numbers. "Population and reproductive surveys indicate an increase in overall mule deer numbers," he added, "therefore the department is allowing for an increase in available licenses."

The number of licenses available for 2004 includes 6,375 for mule deer, an increase of 1,150 from last year; 2,778 for muzzle-loader, up 414 from last year; and 310 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an increase of 43 from last year.

Another significant change involves the number of licenses each hunter can obtain. If licenses remain after the lottery, the proclamation allows for hunters to purchase an unrestricted number of additional antlerless licenses in specific units as long as they are available. Last year hunters could purchase up to three additional antlerless licenses.

Eastern North Dakota hunters will want to note that in unit 2B, early season antlerless license holders who do not fill their license in the early season, can also hunt the last three days of the late season in that unit. Hunters with a license for an antlered deer in unit 2B may hunt only during the early or late season dates applicable to their license.

North Dakota residents who are on active duty with the United States Armed Forces and are stationed outside of the state are eligible to purchase one white-tailed deer gun license of either sex, in a unit of their choice, if they miss applying in the initial lottery.

Likewise, North Dakota residents who were unable to participate in the 2003 deer gun season because they were on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces and were stationed outside the state are also eligible to purchase one deer gun license for a white-tailed deer of their choice in a unit of their choice.

Online applications for regular deer gun, youth and muzzle-loader seasons are available now for prospective hunters to apply through the game and fish internet website, while paper applications will be available to vendors throughout the state by May 12. The application deadline is June 2.

Applicants can access the department's website at to submit a lottery application online, or to print an application for mailing. Regular license fees apply and no service charge is added.

Lottery and gratis applications will be available at game and fish offices, county auditors and license vendors by May 12. Persons can also apply by calling 1-800-406-6409. A service fee is added for license applications made over the phone.