Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Spring Mule Deer Survey Complete

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population is similar to last year, and 45 percent above the long-term average.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

 

Biologists counted 2,540 mule deer in 245.8 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 10.3 deer per square mile, compared to 10.9 in 2017.

 

Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said mule deer in the badlands have recovered nicely following the winters of 2009-11, which led to record low fawn production and a population index low of 4.6 mule deer per square mile in 2012.

 

“The population recovery is due to no antlerless harvest for four years combined with milder winter conditions during 2012-2016, which led to good fawn production since 2013,” Stillings said. “However, the long-term health of the population will depend on maintaining high quality habitat. Rangeland conditions are in tough shape in the badlands due to drought conditions, and could have a negative impact on fawn production this summer.”

 

The 2018 survey results show that hunting opportunities, according to Stillings, can increase slightly in all badlands units except 4A, which has been slower to recover than the rest of the badlands units. “There are localized areas that have very high mule deer densities and have exceeded landowner tolerance levels,” Stillings said.

 

The spring mule deer survey is used to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. It is conducted after the snow has melted and before the trees begin to leaf out, providing the best conditions for aerial observation of deer. Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s.

Spring Mule Deer Survey Complete

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population has increased 16 percent from last year.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Biologists counted 3,349 mule deer in 306.3 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 10.9 deer per square mile, which is up from 9.4 deer per square mile in 2016.

Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said mule deer in the badlands have recovered nicely following the winters of 2009-11, which led to record low fawn production and a population index low of 4.6 mule deer per square mile in 2012.

“The population recovery is due to no antlerless harvest for four years combined with milder winter conditions during 2012-16, which led to good fawn production since 2013,” Stillings said. “However, the long-term health of the population will depend on maintaining high quality habitat.”

The 2017 survey results show that hunting opportunities, according to Stillings, can be increased in all badlands units except 4A, which experienced more severe winter conditions and a slight decline in mule deer numbers.

The spring mule deer survey is used to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. It is conducted after the snow has melted and before the trees begin to leaf out, providing the best conditions for aerial observation of deer. Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s.photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Fall Mule Deer Survey Completed

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s fall mule deer survey indicates that mule deer had another good year of fawn production.

photo by Harold Umber, ND Game and Fish photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

Biologists counted 3,003 (2,157 in 2015) mule deer in the annual aerial survey in October. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.48 (0.42 in 2015) is higher than the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.90 (0.84 in 2015) is the same as the long-term average.

Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said the mule deer population continues to recover nicely following the devastating winters of 2008-10, with its third consecutive year of fawn production near or above the long-term average.

“This year’s good fawn production has the potential to result in a nice population increase next spring, depending on the severity of the winter,” Stillings said.

The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306.3 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists also survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine population abundance.

 

North Dakota Spring Mule Deer Survey Up 21%

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population has increased 21 percent from last year.

Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor, said the increase is a result of higher adult doe survival in 2015, three consecutive years of good fawn production, and overwinter survival combined with milder winter weather conditions.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

“These factors, along with no harvest of antlerless mule deer during the past four deer hunting seasons, have resulted in mule deer numbers doubling since we experienced our low in 2012,” Stillings said.

Biologists counted 2,880 mule deer in 306.3 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 9.4 deer per square mile, which is up from 7.8 deer per square mile in 2015.

The spring mule deer survey is used to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. It is conducted after the snow has melted and before the trees begin to leaf out, providing the best conditions for aerial observation of deer. Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s.

2016 North Dakota Non-Resident Any Deer Bow Licenses

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will have 281 any-deer bow licenses available to nonresidents in 2016.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

The deadline for applying is March 1. A lottery will be held if more applications are received than licenses available. Any remaining licenses after March 1 will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants can apply together as a party. A separate check is required for each application.

The nonresident any-deer bow application is available at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. The application must be printed and sent in to the department.

The number of nonresident any-deer bow licenses available is 15 percent of the previous year’s mule deer gun license allocation. The Game and Fish Department issued 1,875 antlered mule deer licenses in the 2015 deer gun license lottery.