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Units in SW ND see increase in deer licenses

Though the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has dropped its number of deer licenses to the lowest issued since 1983, not everything is grim.

The NDGF Department has issued 59,500 licenses -- a 5,800 decrease from last season -- for the 2013 season due to harsh winter conditions throughout a majority of the state, but a few areas in southwestern North Dakota are seeing more opportunities.

"The southwest area of the state is seeing an increase of opportunities from last year in bucks," said Jeb Williams, NDGF Department assistant wildlife chief. "That's a good thing. In that area of the state, there wasn't quite the winter that the rest of the state had. We do feel there are some additional opportunities out there for buck harvest right now."

In hunting units 3F2 and 3D1 will see an increase of a total 150 buck licenses for the 2013 season.

Unit 3F2 has an increase of 100 buck licenses from last year, while 3D1 will have 50 more. As for the increases, unit 3F2 will have 900 licenses and 3D1 will have 150.

"There's a little bit more opportunity for buck hunting in those units," Williams said.

The reason for the increase in buck licenses from last year to this season is the mild winter in southwestern North Dakota.

However, the rest of the state wasn't as lucky. With harsh winter climates in the northern and eastern side of the state, the NDGF Department effectively lowered the number of deer licenses available.

Though units 3F2 and 3D1 will see a rise in the number of buck licenses, doe license numbers will remain the same.

"We're staying pretty much the same on doe licenses," William said. "Understanding the deer numbers are down in various areas, we just want to stay conservative on that for the time being and monitor it as we go along."

Another reason for the drop of deer license in the state has been hunter success rates. Last year hunters in North Dakota saw a 62 percent success rate of filling their tag, which is below the NDGF Department's goal of 70 percent.

"A lot of these areas, while we are seeing some units that deer numbers are doing OK, they are still falling below some of our longer term objectives," Williams said. "We are attempting to make an effort to get back to that point."

Elk numbers in western North Dakota

The number of elk licenses in units E3 and E4 has dropped by 40 licenses.

In unit E3, which is Billings, Golden Valley and Slope counties, except that portion of Unit E4 in Billings and Golden Valley counties and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, has a total number of licenses of 50. Unit E4, which is mostly TRNP, has a total of 10 licenses.

"The reduced number of licenses is due to the success population reduction effect for the park service in 2010, 2011 and 2012," Williams said.

Though the number of numbers of licenses has dropped by 40, the hunter success rate last year was around 62 percent.

"People have still taken some elk out those units," Williams said. "There's not the same opportunity and not the same number of elk around those units based on the successful removal process. People have still had a decent success rate. They are still putting in the time and effort, because there are still elk out there."