Mule deer buck

2017 Deer Drawing

Authors and Contributors

Ron Wilson

Two years doesn’t make a trend, but it’s a start.

After falling to a nearly four-decades-low of 43,275 licenses in 2015, the number of deer gun licenses Game and Fish made available to hunters increased in 2016 (49,000) and 2017 (54,500).

Prospects for more deer gun licenses in North Dakota in 2017 didn’t look good initially as winter 2016-17 started with record amounts of snow in most places by early January.

Then, as unpredictable as the weather can be on the Northern Plains, temperatures increased and snow gradually started melting in late January. By March, evidence of that record amount of snow was gone in most places.

Once again, hunters could draw just one license for the 2017 deer gun season. The number of licenses in North Dakota increased by 5,500 last year compared to 2016.

Like most years, drawing a buck license in 2017 wasn’t easy. According to Randy Meissner, Game and Fish Department licensing manager, after 13,402 resident gratis licenses and 456 nonresident licenses were subtracted from the overall license allocation, just 22,223 buck licenses were available for the 66,203 hunters who applied for them as their first choice in the lottery.

For the second time since 2012, the Game and Fish Department allowed hunting of antlerless mule deer in all but one hunting unit in western North Dakota. The 2017 spring mule deer index was higher than the previous year for the fifth consecutive year.

Game and Fish maintained a conservative harvest strategy for the state’s pronghorn population in 2017, while encouraging population growth. For the fourth year in a row, the agency allowed a limited season, allocating 410 licenses, 320 fewer than 2016.

White-tailed buck

Lottery at Work

No matter if you’re new to North Dakota’s deer gun season, or a veteran of wearing fluorescent orange each November, there are always questions on how the Game and Fish Department’s lottery system works.

Using deer as the example, though turkey works the same way, this is how it works.

If you fail to draw your first license choice in any given year, you receive a bonus point. You do not have to apply in the same unit, or for the same deer type each year, to qualify. You get an additional bonus point each year you apply and do not receive your first license choice. You maintain your accumulated bonus points as long as you apply in the first drawing at least once every 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 are 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.

2017 Deer License Lottery Results

Percent of applicants who received their first choice of license.

POINTS
UNIT LICENSE TYPE 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 OVERALL
1 A Any Buck 11.1 22.7 35.3 45.8 97.1         30.4
1 B Any Doe 92 86.4 100 100           91.7
2A A Any Buck 2.6 11.4 8.1 16.8 88.1 80 100     22.1
2A B Any Doe 94.1 87 83.3 100 90.9         90.9
2B A Any Buck 2.3 6.6 8 11.8 61.9 68.2 66.7 100   14.1
2B B Any Doe 27.7 58.4 63.9 64.3 76.5         50.8
2C A Any Buck 0.3 2.2 3.7 7 35.7 50 83.3 100   11.7
2C B Any Doe 2.4 13 18.8 16.7 50 50       15.6
2D A Any Buck 3.5 8.3 20.8 23.3 84.4 100       22.2
2D B Any Doe 89.3 78.9 95.3 100 100         98.9
2E A Any Buck 0.4 1.2 0.8 5.3 27.1 53.6 56.1     11.7
2E B Any Doe 13.5 21.2 52.9 40 75 75       33.5
2F1 A Any Buck 29.5 65.8 84.8 88.7 100 100       52.2
2F1 B Any Doe 95.6 100 87.5 100 100         95.8
2F2 A Any Buck 11.5 29.6 37.8 59.3 95.8 100     100 30.3
2F2 B Any Doe 97.7 82.7 66.7 80           94.4
2G A Any Buck 20.4 56.7 62.9 75 91         48.7
2G B Any Doe 81 95.6 96.8 100 100         89.9
2G1 A Any Buck 3.1 9.9 20.5 29 88.6 83.8   100   22.4
2G1 B Any Doe 89.5 89.3 78.9 78.6 100 100       88.6
2G2 A Any Buck 16.8 42.3 56.8 69.8 93.4 100       40.4
2G2 B Any Doe 95.9 86.5 85 66.7 100         93.9
2H A Any Buck 29.2 63.9 82.1 77.1 83.3 100       50.9
2H B Any Doe 97.2 100 100 100 100         97.6
2I A Any Buck 14.1 37 54.2 59.9 95.9 100 100     35.6
2I B Any Doe 95.8 95.5 87.5 100 66.7 100       95.4
2J1 A Any Buck 17.6 44.9 61 81.5 96.2 83.3     100 43.1
2J1 B Any Doe 97.1 94.1 100   100         97
2J2 A Any Buck 28.7 64.5 82.8 89.7 91.7 100       53.1
2J2 B Any Doe 97.7 92.5 100 100           97.2
2K1 A Any Buck 9 14.2 32.8 34.8 93.2 84.6       27.2
2K1 B Any Doe 97.2 79.5 81 75 100         93
2K2 A Any Buck 14.1 36.6 50.9 64.3 96.7 100 100     35.6
2K2 B Any Doe 93.1 94.2 91.7 100 100         93.2
2L A Any Buck 25.3 60.7 81.5 81.2 100 100       49.7
2L B Any Doe 100 100 100             100
3A1 A Any Buck 6.7 17 29.4 40.6 93.9 90.8 90.9 83.3   27.7
3A1 B Any Doe 96.6 100 93.3 72.7 100 100 100     95.3
3A2 A Any Buck 22.9 51.8 67.2 82.3 84.2         44.8
3A2 B Any Doe 95.8 90 76.9 100 100         94.6
3A3 A Any Buck 5.6 13.7 18.3 25.7 91 89.8 100 100   24.6
3A3 B Any Doe 96 89.5 68 90 100         92.9
3A4 A Any Buck 9.9 20.7 34.3 47.2 94.6 81.8 66.7 100   28.6
3A4 B Any Doe 93.3 82.1 73.3 81.8 100         90.1
3B1 E MD Buck 7.6 14.9 32.4 40.8 90 100       25.9
3B1 C WT Buck 2.3 10 11.2 11.5 74.6 92.1 100     16.9
3B1 F MD Doe 53.8 100 100 100 100         78.8
3B1 D WT Doe 91.7 100 75 100 100         92.3
3B2 E MD Buck 19.3 55.6 76.9 42.9 66.7         40.4
3B2 C WT Buck 19.3 46.2 48.6 82.4 83.3   100     36.5
3B2 F MD Doe 100 100               100
3B2 D WT Doe 95.7 100   100           94.6
3B3 A Any Buck 12.7 46.8 50 78.3 87.5 100       36.3
3B3 B Any Doe 95.8 100 100             96.8
3B3 C WT Buck 66.2 96 100 100 100         82.3
3B3 D WT Doe 98.7 90 100   100         98.2
3C A Any Buck 5.3 15.3 15.3 32.4 90.6         18.2
3C B Any Doe 51.4 82.9 50             67.7
3C C WT Buck 51.4 82.8 90.8 100 100         69.1
3C D WT Doe 98 100 50 100 100         97.7
3D1 A Any Buck 20.4 52.8 67.9 76 100         42.8
3D1 B Any Doe 100 100 100             100
3D1 C WT Buck 98.1 100 100   100         98.3
3D1 D WT Doe 100                 100
3D2 A Any Buck 12 36.4 52.3 65.5 96.4 100 100     35.1
3D2 B Any Doe 98.4 88.9 100 100           97.9
3D2 C WT Buck 70.1 95.5 85.7 75 100         78
3D2 D WT Doe 100 100               100
3E1 A Any Buck 17.5 41.3 65.8 65.5 81.8 66.7       37
3E1 B Any Doe 92.6 100 100             93.5
3E1 C WT Buck 62.7 95 90.3 100 100         76.3
3E1 D WT Doe 100 100               100
3E2 A Any Buck 34.7 71 90.7 94.1 66.7       100 55.8
3E2 B Any Doe 96.4 100 72.7             95.4
3E2 C WT Buck 97.9 100 100             98.1
3E2 D WT Doe 100   100             100
3F1 A Any Buck 26.3 65.3 77.8 79.3 100         54.4
3F1 B Any Doe 98.3 100               97.3
3F1 C WT Buck 99 100 100             99.1
3F1 D WT Doe 100 100               100
3F2 A Any Buck 26.9 68.9 83.3 92.6 100 100 100 100   51.8
3F2 B Any Doe 97.1 90.9 100 100           96.6
3F2 C WT Buck 98.6 100 100             98.7
3F2 D WT Doe 87.5                 87.5
4A E MD Buck 3.9 7.8 8.5 9 76.2 82.6 100 100 100 16
4A C WT Buck 33.5 67.6 87.5 88.2 88.9 100       55.4
4A D WT Doe 96.2 100   100           97.1
4B E MD Buck 2 2.3 4 6.3 38.8 59 68.4 88.9 83.3 17.6
4B C WT Buck 77.9 94.8 81.8 100 100 100       89.6
4B F MD Doe 94.7 100 100 100     100     96.3
4B D WT Doe 100 100 100             100
4C E MD Buck 0 2.1 3 3.4 28.7 45.6 58.6 73.9 78.3 15.4
4C C WT Buck 63.2 92.7 90 100 100 100   100   77.9
4C F MD Doe 96.6 100   100   100       93.2
4C D WT Doe 88.9 100               90
4D E MD Buck 1 1.8 4.6 6.2 48.2 71.6 84.3 91.3 100 19
4D C WT Buck 100 85.7 100 100 100 100       98.1
4D F MD Doe 90.2 81.8 75   100         88.1
4D D WT Doe 85.7 100     100         87.5
4E E MD Buck 12.4 32 50.9 57.7 84.2 100 88.9     38.1
4E C WT Buck 98.6 100 100             98.9
4E F MD Doe 86.4 100     100         87.5
4E D WT Doe 100 100               100
4F E MD Buck 33.5 74.4 88.6 100 100 100 100 100   65.7
4F C WT Buck 99.4 100 100 100           99.5
4F F MD Doe 100 100               100
4F D WT Doe 100 100 100 100           100
MUZ C WT Buck 0.1 0 0.1 0.3 2.1 4.4 7.9 10.4 20.7 3.7
MUZ D WT Doe 33.7 72.9 87.2 82.1 100 100   100 100 52.1

2017 Lottery Stats

Deer

  • 54,500 – Number of deer licenses available, up from 49,000 in 2016.
  • 77,622 – Number of people – not including about 10,000 gratis applicants – who applied for deer gun season lottery licenses, up from 74,179 in 2016.
  • 46.63 – Percent of successful applicants, excluding gratis and nonresidents, for deer gun and muzzleloader licenses.
  • 1.45 – Average bonus points of applicants who received their first choice.
  • 15 – Maximum number of bonus points for any applicant.
  • 11,386 – Number of applicants with four or more bonus points.
  • 12.67 – Percent of applicants with four or more bonus points.
  • 4,490 – Number of applicants with four or more bonus points who drew their first choice of license.
  • 21.35 – Percent of applicants with four or more bonus points who applied for a mule deer buck license.
  • 48.85 – Percent of applicants with four or more bonus points who applied for a muzzleloader buck license.

Turkey

  • 5,685 – Number of spring turkey licenses available to hunters, down from 5,815 licenses in 2016.
  • 77.7 – Percent of applicants who received their first license choice in the spring turkey drawing.
  • 3,505 – Number of fall turkey licenses available to hunters, down from 3,510 licenses in 2016.
  • 73.5 – Percent of applicants who received their first license choice in the fall turkey drawing.

Pronghorn

  • A limited pronghorn season was offered for the fourth consecutive year in four hunting units.
  • 410 – Number of licenses available to hunters, 320 fewer than 2016.
  • 8,756 – Number of people who applied for available licenses.

2017 Pronghorn Lottery Results

Percent of applicants who received their first choice of license.

POINTS
Unit 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 OVERALL
02B 0 0 0 0 1.2 2.8 2.9 4 8.3 0.6
03A 0 0 0 0 1.5 20.6 4 45.5   2.7
03B 0 0.3 0.7 0.6 1.9 6.2 8.2 8.3 20 1.7
04A 0.4 0.1 1.3 1.5 11.2 24.2 31.6 54.3 35.7 4.3
04C 1.2 0 0 0 3.7 8.2 25 43.8 33.3 2.5

2017 Spring Turkey Lottery Results

Percent of applicants who received their first choice of license.

POINTS
Unit 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 OVERALL
2   87.1 100 100             88.8
3   100 100               100
4   62.6 100 100             86.4
6   100 100               100
13   100 100 100             100
17   35.5 81.1 87.5             62.8
19   100 100 100             100
25   100 100               100
27   42 81.2 82.4 100           66.8
30   100 100               100
31   100                 100
37   46.5 87.6 91.9 100           60.8
40   100                 100
44   100 100               100
45   100 100               100
47   100                 100
50   58.1 88.5 100             68.5
51   100 100               100
53   16 42.1 33.3             29.2
98   66.9 98.6 100             85
99   100 100               100

2017 Fall Turkey Lottery Results

Percent of applicants who received their first choice of license.

POINTS
Unit 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 OVERALL
2   22.5 43.2 80 100           35.3
3   100 100               100
4   41.1 87.5 100             55.1
6   51.9 60               56.2
13   100   100             100
17   37.7 75 92.9             55
19   100 100               100
25   100 100               100
27   39.7 67.9 85.7 100           65
30   100 100               100
31   100                 100
37   56 89 100 100           64.9
40   100                 100
44   81.4 100               84.8
45   100 100 100             100
47   100 100               100
50   54.7 90.6               62.9
51   100                 100
98   76.3 88.9               84.4
99   85.7 100               91.5

Donations for Deer Habitat

Unsuccessful applicants in the Department’s deer drawing can now donate their refunds to the agency’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program.

North Dakota lawmakers created this option in 2015. Proceeds to this point from about 4,900 resident and nonresident deer hunters total nearly $153,000.

Donations will be earmarked for projects in areas of the state where wildlife habitat has been lost and deer numbers have declined.