Hunters across North Dakota had a good deer hunting season. 2020 was actually North Dakota hunters’ best year in the last five years. A total of 58,146 hunters killed 39,322 deer during the state’s gun season. In total, deer hunters saw a 68% success rate in 2020. this is up 4% from 2019 and up 6% when compared to the last ten years. While hunters in the 2020 season had higher success than in years past, the season still fell below what the state considers a “good” season. The state sets that threshold at a 70% success rate. That mark hasn’t been hit in 12 consecutive years. However, the state still feels that 2020 was good for deer hunters.
“The 70% (threshold) is still a gauge we use. It’s not an absolute, though. If we have 68% success like we did last year, that is still an overall good deer season.” – State Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams
The state reported that hunters saw an 81% success rate on mule deer bucks. Likewise, hunters had an 83% success rate on mule deer does. On the whitetail deer side of things, hunters saw a 67% success rate on bucks. Doe whitetail deer hunters saw the lowest success in 2020, with a harvest success rate of 63%. Success rates are usually higher for mule deer than whitetail. However, mule deer harvest makes up a much smaller portion of deer harvests than whitetails. All of these success rates were higher than what hunters took in 2019. On average hunters spent 4.8 days in the field during the 2020 deer season.
“Mule deer feel quite comfortable being able to see their predator, or hunter, from about 100 yards. They can utilize the rough terrain for escape cover quite well and don’t boogie over into the next county like some whitetail deer do. Long story short, they are not as cagey as whitetail deer.” – State Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams
Currently the Game and Fish is still deciding on 2021 permit recommendations. With habitat loss, CWD issues, and human encroachment deer populations have fallen. This fall has forced the Game and Fish to reduce deer permit numbers across the state. The Game and Fish is currently working to increase deer permits to over 75,000. Typically North Dakota releases its deer permits in the first few weeks of May.