ND Deer Hunter Success Drops in 2021

NDG&F Release

A total of 57,086 North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 32,793 deer during the 2021 deer gun hunting season, according to a post-season survey conducted by the state Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish made available 72,200 deer gun licenses last year. Overall hunter success was 57 percent, with each hunter spending an average of 4.5 days in the field.  Both numbers were off from recent highs in 2020, when overall hunter success was 68 percent and hunters spent an average of 4.8 days in the field.

Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 40 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 48 percent, both showing a significant drop from 67 percent and 63 percent in 2020. 

Mule deer buck success was 72 percent, and antlerless mule deer was 80 percent, down slightly from 2020, when mule deer buck success was 81 percent and antlerless mule deer was 83 percent.

Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses generally harvest white-tailed deer, as these licenses are predominantly in units with mostly whitetails. Buck hunters had a success rate of 63 percent, while doe hunters had a success rate of 57 percent.

Game and Fish issued 12,113 gratis licenses in 2021, and 9,311 hunters harvested 4,713 deer, for a success rate of 51 percent.

A total of 1,336 muzzleloader licenses were issued, and 1,049 hunters harvested 492 white-tailed deer (258 antlered, 234 antlerless). Hunter success was 47 percent.

A total of 29,762 archery licenses (26,251 resident, 3,511 nonresident) were issued in 2021. In total, 23,466 bowhunters harvested 7,251 deer (6,144 whitetails, 1,107 mule deer), for a success rate of 31 percent, down from 38 percent in 2020.

The department is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in 2022. In addition to harvest rates and winter aerial surveys, Game and Fish staff monitor other population indices to determine license numbers, including depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

Portions of the NDG&F 2020 Deer Season Summary Release have been utilized with this year’s release for comparison statistics.

Featured Photo: Harvest rates for white-tailed deer in North Dakota plummeted in 2021, as habitat concerns, prolonged drought, and the impact of EHD grabbed headlines in the state last fall. DEO Photo.

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