Record White-tailed Deer Population

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For the second consecutive year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department will issue a record number of deer gun licenses. The department will make available 116,925 licenses for the fall 2002 season, up from 106,350 last year, according to Randy Kreil, game and fish wildlife division chief.

The 10 percent increase in licenses, according to Kreil, is intended to reduce deer numbers to unit management goals. "Several mild winters and the resulting increase in reproductive success have raised the state's white-tailed deer population above management objectives," he said.

Mule deer licenses are down slightly from 2001, Kreil said, reflecting a conservative approach to managing mule deer numbers. "Population and reproductive surveys conducted in the past nine months indicate a slight decline in overall mule deer numbers," he added, "therefore the department is decreasing available licenses."

During the annual spring mule deer survey in April, biologists counted 1,948 mule deer in 23 study areas surveyed, a decrease of 12 percent from 2,220 tallied last year. Density of mule deer per square mile was 6.8, down from 10.2 in 2001. The density of mule deer in 2002 was similar to the 12-year average of 6.1 mule deer per square mile.

The number of licenses available for the 2002 season includes 4,875 mule deer, a decrease of 275 from last year; 2,240 muzzle-loader, up 216 from last year; and 261 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an decrease of 11 from last year.

Other noteworthy changes from last year include a modification of the unit boundary dividing 3C and 3F2, and clarifying the area north of Bismarck-Mandan that is closed to the use of centerfire rifles to include islands and sandbars. The west boundary of the closure area is the west bank of the Missouri River.

Lottery and gratis applications are available from game and fish offices, county auditors and license vendors.

Persons can also apply at the game and fish internet web site, or by calling 1-800-406-6409. Access the department's webster at to submit a lottery application online, or to print out an application for mailing. Regular license fees apply and no service charge is added. A service fee is added for license applications made over the phone.

Deadline for submitting applications for regular deer gun, muzzleloader, gratis and youth antlered mule deer licenses in units 4A-4F, 3B1 and 3B2 is Wednesday, June 5. Mailed applications must be postmarked before midnight. Hand-delivered applications are due at the department's Bismarck office by 5 p.m. Applications should be mailed early because some post offices use the following day?s postmark for mail received after office hours. Deadline for regular youth season applications is Sept. 1, 2002.

The regular deer gun season starts at noon Nov. 8 and runs through Nov. 24. The split season in units 2B and 3C are set as follows: early, Nov. 8 at noon through Nov. 14; and late, Nov. 15 at ½ hour before sunrise through Nov. 24. Muzzle-loader season dates are noon Nov. 29 through Dec. 15. Youth deer season begins at noon Sept. 20 and continues through Sept. 29. Archery deer season begins noon Aug. 30 and continues through Jan. 5, 2003.