General Lottery Information

For a searchable listing of all season dates and application deadlines (tentative and finalized) see the North Dakota Hunting Seasons page.

Contents

Lottery Application Deadlines

Species/Season Season Opening
Spring Turkey See Spring Turkey
Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep See Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep Hunting Guide
Deer (gun/muzzleloader) See Deer Hunting Guide
Pronghorn See Pronghorn Hunting Guide
Fall Turkey See Turkey Hunting Guide
Swan See Waterfowl Hunting Guide

See Printable License Applications or check Online Services to see which lottery applications are currently available.


Approximate Dates for Lotteries, Applications and Regulations

Season Dates Applications Available Lottery Results Regulations Available
Spring Turkey Late January Early March Early March
Moose, Elk, Bighorn Sheep Early-mid March Late April Early-mid April
Deer Gun, Muzzleloader and Youth Deer Early-mid May TBD Mid-July
Fall Turkey Mid-August Mid-September Mid-September
Pronghorn

Late July

Mid-late August Mid-late August
Swan Late July Late August Early-mid August; combined with Small Game Guide
Fishing N/A N/A Early March, every two years
Small Game N/A N/A Early-mid August
Furbearer N/A N/A Early-mid August; combined with small game guide

Weighted Lottery FAQs

What species are covered by the weighted lottery? 
First lotteries for deer gun, muzzleloader deer, pronghorn, swan, and spring and fall wild turkey.

How do I find out how many bonus (preference) points I have?
Current bonus points can be found on the Department's Online Services website.

How does the one-year grace period affect an applicant's eligibility?
An applicant can miss applying for a year without losing points; however, the applicant loses bonus points by failing to apply for two consecutive years. 

How do bonus points accrue in the weighted lottery?
An applicant unsuccessful in drawing his or her first choice permit in the first lottery this year receives a bonus point for next year's lottery.

Note that in years 2, 3 and 4, the points are doubled; and, for years 5 and beyond, they are cubed to increase the applicant's chances of drawing a permit.

Examples

Calculation: Existing Bonus Points * Multiplier + 1 (the current year's application) = Total times your application goes in lottery

Year Calculation
(existing points * multiplier + 1)
Total Times Your Application Goes Into the Lottery
1 0 * 0 + 1 1
2 1 * 2 + 1 3
3 2 * 2 + 1 5
4 3 * 2 + 1 7
5 4³ + 1 65
6 5³ + 1 126
7 6³ + 1 217
8 7³ + 1 344
9 8³ + 1 513
10 9³ + 1 730

In the previous example isn't the applicant guaranteed a permit in year four or five?
No. There is no guarantee. The lottery is a random drawing. In most cases when an applicant reaches this point he or she is likely to draw a permit. However, for some licenses, particularly antlered mule deer, where demand for tags vastly exceeds supply, many applicants have the same number of bonus points and thus, even for those with many points, there is considerable competition.

Why do applications ask for a social security number and do I have to give it?
Yes. State law requires social security numbers on all license applications in order for the state to receive human services funding from the federal government.  

If I receive a permit for my second choice license, do I lose my bonus points?

No, bonus points apply only to first choice in the first lottery.

If I have bonus points and apply with a party, how does this affect me?
On party applications the person with fewest points sets the level for the entire application. Applicants with more bonus points than others in the party have a better chance applying separately.

Example of Explaining Bonus Points

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

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.


Helpful Hints for Lottery Applicants

  1. Deer, turkey, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, pronghorn and tundra swan licenses are all distributed via lottery. Licenses left over after a lottery has been run may be purchased on a first-come, first-served basis.
  2. To hunt in North Dakota you must have a hunter education certificate or apprentice hunting license if you were born after 1961.
  3. You can apply for lotteries online or by phone (1-800-406-6409).
  4. Before applying review the appropriate license availability page to see what licenses are available in what units. You are limited in the number of units for which you can apply (varies by lottery), so use the availability page to help you select the units you’d like to hunt.
  5. Also review last year’s lottery success statistics to get an idea of your odds of drawing a license in a particular unit. Again this can be used to help you decide what units you’d like to apply for.
  6. Applications must be in by midnight on the day of the deadline. Deadlines can be found on the species hunting pages.
  7. Lotteries are run and results available anywhere from about 2 weeks to a month after the application deadline depending on the lottery.
  8. After a lottery has been run, applicants will be notified that results are available. This will be done via:
    • Email (if the applicant provided an email when applying)
    • GovDelivery – text and/or email service that you can sign up for here
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • The Department website
  9. If you are drawn, you’ll need to purchase the required licenses after which your tag will be sent to you.
  10. Some lotteries (first lotteries for deer gun, muzzleloader deer, pronghorn, swan, and spring and fall wild turkey) are “weighted” lotteries. You accrue bonus points each time you apply for one of these lotteries and are not drawn. These points give you a better chance of getting drawn the next year, however, if you do not apply for 2 consecutive years, you will lose any bonus points you had.
  11. And remember, if you are drawn and successfully harvest an animal, you must tag that animal immediately. Tag it BEFORE you take photos with it.
  12. More information and hunting regulations can be found at /hunting/species.