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North Dakota

Around 10,000 fewer licenses available during the ND deer season in 2023



Bismarck, North Dakota – The 2023 deer season in North Dakota is planned. This year’s deer lottery offered hunters 53,400 deer gun licenses, which is 10,800 fewer than in 2017.

“We have a pretty good reduction in deer licenses, probably mainly because the winter, and also a little bit to do with the condition of deer as they came into winter. Obviously, the better reserves they have, the better they’ll last through a winter, but this winter was six months, essentially of winter, and that doesn’t happen to us very often,” said Casey Anderson, North Dakota Game and Fish wildlife division chief.

After the winters of 2009, 2010, and 2011, whitetail deer populations were gradually moving in the right way, but a big EHD Outbreak in central North Dakota in 2021 and this year’s harsh winter circumstances had an adverse effect on their populations.

“Statewide whitetail populations are obviously down, but it wasn’t equal across the state, especially the way winter came across the state. You know, that southeast quarter of the state was probably the worst,” said Anderson.

In the past, blizzards and harsh winters had a negative impact on mule deer populations.

“The mule deer surveys, we just completed flying, and they are down across the Badlands about 26% to 29%,” said Anderson.

In addition to using aerial surveys, how do large game biologists determine how many licenses to offer to hunters?

“We use harvest surveys that we send to hunters. And then also just field observations, field observations from our game wardens, from our other staff. And then our folks work with quite a few folks on the ground, on the landscape throughout winter. And we get a pretty good picture of what winter die-offs look like and things like that,” said Anderson.

To turn the tide on deer populations, assistance from a higher power will be necessary.

“The biggest thing is going to be Mother Nature is going to need to give us some help. We get another winter like this, and we’ll be struggling as far as wildlife goes. But really, it’s habitat. Habitat is going to tell you how fast they bounce back,” said Anderson.

A deer gun license application can be made at The cutoff date is June 7.