Game and Fish to offer fewer North Dakota deer licenses in 2024

May 6—BISMARCK — North Dakota's 2024 deer season is set, with 50,100 licenses available to hunters, down 3,300 from last year, the Game and Fish Department said Monday, May 6.

In addition, muzzleloader licenses decreased by 66, and restricted youth antlered mule deer licenses remained the same.

Population, harvest and survey data indicate the state's deer population is stable to decreasing in the southeastern part of the state, said Casey Anderson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife division chief.

"The 2023-24 winter was one of the mildest on record. However, fawn production was reduced following extreme winter conditions during 2022-23, which limited population growth despite reduced gun licenses during the 2023 hunting season," Anderson said in a news release. "Modest license allocations are intended to maintain hunting opportunities while encouraging population growth in the state."

High-quality deer habitat is not abundant, which has limited the potential for population recovery. If contracts for land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program continue to expire, 85% of the once 3.4 million acres present in 2007 will be lost by 2026, Anderson said.

"Habitat does not have to be CRP but needs to fulfill winter and fawning habitat needs in particular for numbers to bounce back effectively," he said.

The spring mule deer survey showed western North Dakota's population is 1% higher than last year, following record low fawn production in 2023.

North Dakota's 2024 deer gun season opens at noon Friday, Nov. 8, and continues through Nov. 24.

Applicants for

regular deer gun, gratis, youth and muzzleloader

can apply online through the Game and Fish Department's website at

. The deadline for applying is midnight June 5.

Those who didn't apply last year will lose accrued points by not applying or purchasing a point this year.

A general game and habitat license is required when applying for a deer license. If the applicant has not already purchased one for the 2024-25 season, the license will be added to their cart upon checkout. The applicant has the option of having the general game and habitat license refunded if their deer license is not drawn in the lottery.

Gratis applicants who have previously applied online will automatically have their land description carried forward to this year's application. However, any changes with land descriptions from last year's application must be made before submitting the 2024 application.

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline will qualify for an any-legal-deer gratis license. As per state law, gratis applications received after the deadline will be processed based on licenses remaining after the lottery.

Total deer licenses are determined by harvest rates, aerial surveys, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

Hunters had an overall success rate of 55% during the 2023 deer gun season,

Game and Fish said

in March. Hunter success was 54% for antlered white-tailed deer and 51% for antlerless whitetails. Mule deer hunter success was 80% for bucks and 78% for antlerless mule deer.