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Deer Lottery

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Article By 
Ron Wilson
Mule Deer
 

A deer gun license was a tough draw in North Dakota in 2012. It was an even bigger deal to score one in 2013.

The Game and Fish Department made available just 59,500 licenses for the regular gun season last year – the lowest since 1983 and down from 109,550 in 2011.

In 2013, nearly 75,000 hunters applied for a regular deer gun season license, up from about 66,000 in 2012.

With mule deer showing signs of recovery, the Game and Fish Department continued to hold off from issuing mule deer doe licenses again in 2013 in eight badlands hunting units.

2013 was the first year since 2007 that the spring mule deer index was higher than the previous year, but still 22 percent lower than the long-term average. Game and Fish biologists attribute the rise, in part, to not harvesting antlerless mule deer in 2012.

Beginning in 2001 and lasting about a decade, getting a deer license in North Dakota wasn't that difficult as the Department made available more than 100,000 licenses to hunters. License numbers topped out at 149,400 in 2008, but later that year the first of three consecutive hard winters hit the state, making life difficult for deer and other wild game.

Team the weather with a steady decline in wildlife habitat on the landscape, and it's not surprising that deer license numbers fell to 1980s-like levels.

Randy Kreil, Department wildlife division chief, said it's difficult to imagine deer license numbers climbing above 100,000 again anytime soon, considering the loss of about 2 million Conservation Reserve Program acres, large-scale conversion of native grasslands and the destruction of miles and miles of tree belts.

"It wasn't that long ago hunters used accumulated bonus points in order to get a buck license," Kreil said. "If we continue down this same path, however, bonus points will be needed to simply draw a deer license."

Randy Meissner, Department licensing manager, said drawing a buck license in North Dakota in 2013 wasn't easy. He said that after 14,118 gratis licenses and 595 nonresident licenses were deducted from the overall license allocation, only 20,905 buck licenses remained for the 62,654 hunters who applied for them as their first choice in the lottery.

And for the second year in a row, hunters in North Dakota were allowed only one license for the 2013 deer gun season.

How it Works

Despite fewer licenses in 2013, the lottery process did not change. Even so, with new hunters venturing afield every year, there are always questions concerning how the lottery system works. Using deer as the example, though turkey works the same way, here is a reminder.

If you fail to draw your first license choice in any given year, but apply within the next two years, you receive a bonus point. You do not have to apply in the same unit, or for the same deer type, to qualify. You get an additional bonus point each year you apply and do not receive your first license choice, as long as you have applied in the first drawing at least once in the previous two years.

You receive additional chances in the drawing for each bonus point accumulated. For points one through three, you are entered in the drawing two times the number of points you have. So, if you have two points you would get four additional chances to be drawn, compared to a person who got his or her first choice the previous year. If you're both competing for the same license, you have five chances, he or she has one.

When you accumulate four or more points, the number of additional chances is determined by cubing your bonus points. So, when you have four points, you will be in the drawing 64 additional times, 125 times if you have five points, and so on. Bonus points are accumulated as long as you do not draw your first license choice and apply in the first drawing at least every other year. You do not receive bonus points in years you do not apply.

Each drawing is still random, but the more bonus points you have, the better your odds. When you receive your first license choice, you lose your bonus points and start over. Bonus points can only be earned, or used, in the first drawing for each species in each year.

The license lottery consists of four separate drawings, one for each choice on the application. First, we hold a drawing for the first unit/first deer choice. When those have been issued, we draw for the first unit/second deer choice, then the second unit/first deer choice, and finally the second unit/second deer choice.

 
 

2013 Turkey License Lottery Results

Percent of applicants who received their first choice of license in the 2013 spring turkey drawing.
Points
License Type 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Overall
2 S 91.8 100 100             92.1
3 S 100 100               100
4 S 55 75               56.3
6 S 100                 100
13 S 100 100 100             100
17 S 70.6 66.7               70.4
19 S 100 100               100
25 S 87.5 100               87.6
27 S 53.1 84.5 60             56.9
30 S 89.6 100 100             89.9
31 S 100                 100
37 S 54.4 90.9 100 100           61.4
40 S 76.4 100               78.2
44 S 93.2 100               93.3
45 S 100 100               100
47 S 100 100               100
50 S 44.9 81.2 71.4 100           51.3
51 S 100 100               100
53 S 55.8 75   100           58.3
98 S 63.3 87.2               65.2
99 S 100 100               100
Percent of applicants who received their first choice of license in the 2013 fall turkey drawing.
Points
License Type 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Overall
2 F 25 56.3 0             29.4
3 F 100                 100
4 F 63.4 85.7               65
6 F 40.7                 40.7
13 F 100 100               100
17 F 62.9 80 100             64.8
19 F 80.5 100               80.8
25 F 100 100               100
27 F 59.7 82.4 100             61.5
30 F 100                 100
31 F 100                 100
37 F 52.9 91               57.6
40 F 41.8 100               46.6
44 F 100 100               100
45 F 100                 100
47 F 65 100               65.6
50 F 51.6 87.1               55
51 F 100                 100
98 F 81.3 100               81.5
99 F 100                 100
 

2013 Lottery Stats

  • 59,500 deer licenses were available, down from 65,300 in 2012 and 109,550 in 2011.
  • 1,150 mule deer buck licenses were available in 2013, down from 1,200 in 2012. Hunters who applied for these licenses increased from 7,009 in 2012 to 7,667 in 2013.
  • 74,789 people applied for deer gun season licenses, up from 66,042 in 2012.
  • 62,654 applicants applied for buck licenses as their first choice; 20,905 buck licenses were available in the drawing after 14,118 gratis and 595 nonresident licenses were withheld. There were no doe licenses available for the drawing in units 2A, 3A1 and 3B1 after gratis licenses were withdrawn, making it the second time that gratis licenses took all the licenses of a particular type.
  • All buck licenses were issued in the first unit/first choice drawing.
  • The highest number of points accumulated by any hunter in the 2013 drawing was 12.
  • 5,828 applicants had four or more bonus points, and 1,627 drew their first license choice.
  • Applicants who applied for a mule deer buck license accounted for 23 percent of applicants with four or more bonus points, and those applying for a muzzleloader buck accounted for an additional 63 percent.
  • The number of people with four or more bonus points increased again this year from 3,737 to 5,007, reflecting the lower number of licenses available in the drawing. Allowing hunters to sit out a year without losing their bonus points also contributed to this increase.
  • A buck license in 3A1 was the most difficult license to draw, with more than 20 times more applicants than licenses available. A muzzleloader buck license was a close second, with almost 20 times more applicants than licenses.
  • There was no pronghorn season again in 2013.
  • 5,930 spring turkey licenses were available in 2013, while 5,745 were available in 2012. The number of applicants increased from 5,710 in 2012 to 6,476 in 2013.
  • The number of fall turkey licenses available in 2013 decreased from 4,145 to 4,020. The number of applicants increased from 2,964 in 2012 to 3,482 in 2013.

2013 Deer License Lottery Results

Percent of applicants who received their first choice of license in the 2013 deer drawing.
Points
License Type 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Overall
1 A Any Buck 40.4 78 77.8 100 100         52.9
1 B Any Doe 98.3 100 100             98.4
2A A Any Buck 3.8 12.7 14.6 21.7 84.6   100     10.4
2A B Any Doe 0 0 0 0 0         0
2B A Any Buck 15.3 41.4 49.1 75 100 100 100     25.2
2B B Any Doe 88.1 85.6 81.8 100           87.8
2C A Any Buck 11.1 30.8 54.3 80 100         20.6
2C B Any Doe 91.7 96.2 100 100           92.3
2D A Any Buck 37.2 77.2 100 100           47.2
2D B Any Doe 97.8 100               97.9
2E A Any Buck 5.8 15.7 23.6 39.5 100 100 100     12.8
2E B Any Doe 90.2 86 100 100   100       89.9
2F1 A Any Buck 43.7 85.4 100 100 100         55.4
2F1 B Any Doe 97.9 100 100             98.1
2F2 A Any Buck 17 41.8 68.1 73.7 100         29.1
2F2 B Any Doe 92.3 88.2 100             92.1
2G A Any Buck 11.1 38.7 45.6 33.3 100         23.4
2G B Any Doe 86.8 100 75             87.9
2G1 A Any Buck 8.1 26.9 37.7 49.2 100         19.3
2G1 B Any Doe 86.7 86.7 93.8 100           86.9
2G2 A Any Buck 13.4 38.2 63.9 79.5 100         28.3
2G2 B Any Doe 91.4 95.8 87.5 100           91.9
2H A Any Buck 30.7 63.4 82.6 93.9 100 100 100     46.5
2H B Any Doe 100 94.4 100             99.5
2I A Any Buck 18.2 46.4 58.3 72.3 100         32.9
2I B Any Doe 92.8 94.4 100 100           93
2J1 A Any Buck 6.1 13.9 22.3 39.7 97.3 100 100     19.9
2J1 B Any Doe 90.5 100 100 100 100         92.6
2J2 A Any Buck 26.7 60.7 79.8 100 100 100       40.7
2J2 B Any Doe 95 100 100 100           95.5
2K1 A Any Buck 9.6 28.7 43.1 52.8 97.4 90 100     25
2K1 B Any Doe 93.9 96.4 88.9 100           94.1
2K2 A Any Buck 19 46 61 77.1 100 100       32.8
2K2 B Any Doe 98.9 100 100   100         99
2L A Any Buck 45.1 81.3 91.7 100           51.8
2L B Any Doe 97.3 100 100             97.4
3A1 A Any Buck 0.8 1.3 3.3 4.4 38.9 46.2 100     4.6
3A1 B Any Doe* 0 0 0 0 0 0       0
3A2 A Any Buck 37.7 76.1 88.4 100 100 100       50.8
3A2 B Any Doe 99.3 96.6 100             99.1
3A3 A Any Buck 4.3 10.8 20.9 25.8 89.8 100 100     15.8
3A3 B Any Doe 90.4 91.9 87 50 100         90.1
3A4 A Any Buck 27.8 60.6 78.1 88.6 100 100       41.3
3A4 B Any Doe 96.6 100 100 100           96.9
3B1 C WT Buck 0.6 3.8 5.6 12.6 68.4 92.3 100     9.6
3B1 D WT Doe 0 0 0 0   0       0
3B1 E MD Buck 4.9 22.6 18.8 44.4 90 100     0 16.8
3B2 C WT Buck 22.6 52.5 71 100 100 100       36.8
3B2 D WT Doe 93.8 100 100 100           94.6
3B2 E MD Buck 18.4 35.4 57.1 75 100 100       28.6
3B3 A Any Buck 7 21 34.1 38.5 100   100     19
3B3 B Any Doe 82.3 100               83.7
3B3 C WT Buck 61.6 92.8 100 100 100 100 100     69
3B3 D WT Doe 97.2 100               97.3
3C A Any Buck 7.4 20.5 41.9 48.8 100 100       20.3
3C B Any Doe 84.7 100 100 100           87.6
3C C WT Buck 66.3 94.7 94.2 95.2 100 100 100     73.5
3C D WT Doe 98 100 100 100           98.3
3D1 A Any Buck 9.3 35.5 55.4 62.5 100         27.3
3D1 B Any Doe 97.6 100 100             97.8
3D1 C WT Buck 71.2 100 100 100           81.1
3D1 D WT Doe 100                 100
3D2 A Any Buck 3.3 10.8 13.5 23.2 75   100     10.4
3D2 B Any Doe 90.3 92.3 66.7   100         90.1
3D2 C WT Buck 18.6 31 53.8 100 100 100       28.2
3D2 D WT Doe 94.1 100 100             95.7
3E1 A Any Buck 16.4 48.1 68.6 68.2 100 100       29.6
3E1 B Any Doe 96.6 85.7   100 100         95.8
3E1 C WT Buck 67.1 100 100 100           73.6
3E1 D WT Doe 100 100               100
3E2 A Any Buck 37.1 83.6 91.4 92.9 100 100       51.9
3E2 B Any Doe 93.8 100 100             94.3
3E2 C WT Buck 94.2 100 100 100 100         94.9
3E2 D WT Doe 100 100               100
3F1 A Any Buck 24.7 70.5 82.5 100 100         39.4
3F1 B Any Doe 93.1 100 100 100           93.8
3F1 C WT Buck 98.2 100 100             98.3
3F1 D WT Doe 100                 100
3F2 A Any Buck 27.9 64.6 83.5 100 100 100       43.6
3F2 B Any Doe 97.2 100     100         97.4
3F2 C WT Buck 98.8 100 100 100 100         98.9
3F2 D WT Doe 95.7 100               96
4A C WT Buck 14.4 22.2 45.2 64.7 100   100     28.2
4A D WT Doe 100 100 100 100           100
4A E MD Buck 1.7 2 4.5 10.7 55.2 89.5 100 100   12.2
4B C WT Buck 24 55.6 83.3 80 100         40.8
4B D WT Doe 91.7 100 66.7             90.5
4B E MD Buck 0.6 2 1.6 5.3 27.3 58.3 66.7 100   7.6
4C C WT Buck 42.4 67.4 66.7 100 100         52
4C D WT Doe 100   100   100         100
4C E MD Buck 0.2 1.1 0.6 2.8 16.9 37 56.8 100 0 7.3
4D C WT Buck 69.5 95.5 75 25 100 100       74.9
4D D WT Doe 90.5 100               91.3
4D E MD Buck 1 1.8 3.1 6 28.4 45.5   66.7   6.9
4E C WT Buck 89.8 94.4 75 100           90.3
4E D WT Doe 100                 100
4E E MD Buck 1.5 12.2 10.4 20.9 92.9 75       13.7
4F C WT Buck 92.9 100 100 100           94.3
4F D WT Doe 93.3 100 100             95.2
4F E MD Buck 13.4 28.6 50 87.5 100         28.6
MUZ C WT Buck 0.2 0.5 0.5 1.1 9.4 17.5 28.9 38.1 77.8 5.1
MUZ D WT Doe 41.4 80 92.9 100 100 100 100     55.9

Deer Management Meetings to Explore License Distribution Options

North Dakota deer hunters will have a chance to provide input on how the State Game and Fish Department should distribute deer licenses in the future.

The Game and Fish Department has scheduled eight public meetings in February to discuss deer population status and future management, and part of that discussion is whether the agency should change its current process for allocating licenses, and if so, what options make the most sense.

License distribution is on the drawing board because the state's deer population has gone from an all-time high to a 30-year low in just the last six years.

Game and Fish reduced its deer gun season license allocation from nearly 150,000 in 2008, to 59,500 in 2013. Interest in deer hunting, however, hasn't changed much.

Even during the deer population peak, Game and Fish couldn't provide enough buck licenses for everyone who wanted one. But whitetail doe licenses were readily available, and pretty much any one of the 100,000 or so potential deer hunters in North Dakota could have received one or more doe licenses in a unit fairly close to home.

"Most hunters understand that they may have to make sacrifices while we work to get the deer population headed in the right direction," said Game and Fish Department wildlife chief Randy Kreil. "At the same time, we're hearing from a lot of people who don't think it's fair that anyone should have two licenses while thousands of hunters went without any license last fall."

The meetings will allow Game and Fish to spend some time explaining possible options that might spread out the opportunity somewhat, and what those options would mean for opportunity.

 

"Right now we have a high public interest in deer hunting in North Dakota," Kreil added. "We're hoping to come up with some solutions to help us maintain that."

Each meeting will begin at 7 p.m. local time.

  • Feb. 17 – Devils Lake, Lake Region Community College Auditorium
  • Feb. 17 – Casselton, City Fire Hall
  • Feb. 18 – Dickinson, Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge
  • Feb. 18 – Anamoose, VFW Club
  • Feb. 24 – Tioga, Farm Festival Building
  • Feb. 24 – Fordville, Community Center
  • Feb. 25 – Bismarck, North Dakota Game and Fish Department
  • Feb. 25 – Jamestown, The Bunker

Deer Gun Licenses

The dramatic decline in the number of deer gun season licenses available in North Dakota has prompted a series of special meetings across the state this month. Game and Fish wildlife managers will discuss the factors involved in that decline, and look for input on solutions for providing more hunting opportunities given current deer numbers.