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Hunters success rate for elk was high in western ND

In the middle of February, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department released its information on hunter's success rates during the 2012 season.

Though the success rates were about the average over the last three to four years, elk harvest numbers in western North Dakota were up substantially.

"To be running an average success rate of 60 percent is pretty high for elk," said Brett Wiedmann the North Dakota Game and Fish Department big game biologist. "If you can get a 60 percent success rate for elk, that's about as good as a person can expect."

Hunters harvested four bighorn sheep, 129 moose and 188 elk. The success rates of these three seasons were 100 percent, 93 percent and 62 percent, respectively.

"Harvest rates are pretty consistent for the big-game species," said Randy Kreil, the NDGF Department wildlife chief. "Elk is, of course, the toughest hunt in the state. Although last year, it was pretty good; in fact it was real good for elk hunting."

There were only four bighorn sheep licenses issued last year and all four hunters harvested a ram. Wiedmann said the goal for the bighorn sheep is to have a 100 percent harvest every single year. He said the number of licenses for the 2013 season will also be four.

"With four licenses, we anticipate each hunter will register a ram," he said.

For the western North Dakota moose units, the success rate in M10, which includes parts of Dunn and Mercer counties and extends north, was 96 percent. There 69 hunters harvesting 66 bulls, cows or calves.

The total number of moose licenses issued last year was 143, while 139 hunters harvested 129 animals. There were 80 bulls and 49 cows or calves.

"Sometimes the hardest part of a moose hunt is getting the license," Kreil said. "Moose are easy spot and easy to find. Landowners are pretty willing to allow access."

For elk, the total number of licenses issued was 315. Of those licenses, 302 hunters harvested 188 elk.

The two main units near Dickinson are E3 and E4. Unit E3 includes Billings, Golden Valley and Slope counties except that portion of Unit E4 in Billings and Golden Valley counties and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Unit E4 is an area in Billings and Golden Valley counties north of Interstate 94, excluding all of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The two units combined for 111 hunters getting 63 elk -- a success rate of 57 percent.

"The thing about elk that's been keeping the percentage of success higher is we've been reducing the number of licenses dramatically," Kreil said.