Doug Leier, Published November 30 2011
Leier: Statistics offer useful perspectives when reviewing deer seasonFargo - I’ve never been much of a numbers guy, which is evidenced by my grades in calculus, statistics and about any college math course I took. But just because I wasn’t good at crunching them, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the work of those who can mold statistics into usable data.
Most of us hunters can easily compare 2011 to previous North Dakota deer seasons, just by sharing stories of deer seen, deer bagged on opening day, big bucks, does and who missed the easiest shot.
For the North Dakota State Game and Fish Department, it takes a bit longer to come up with the statistics or numbers that allow for more scientific comparisons of one year to the next. Part of that process is underway now, as Game and Fish mailed post-season harvest surveys right after deer gun season ended.
Game and Fish then crunches the numbers from these surveys to produce a variety of statistics. For instance, survey results from last year indicated hunters took approximately 67,000 deer during the deer gun season, and overall hunter success was 64 percent. Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 68 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 63 percent. Mule deer buck success was 68 percent, while mule deer doe hunters had a success rate of 70 percent.
Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses almost exclusively harvest white-tailed deer. These buck and doe hunters each had a success rate of 64 percent. Hunters drawing a muzzleloader license had a success rate of 46 percent, while young hunters during the youth season had a success rate of 55 percent.
In terms of raw numbers, Game and Fish made available 116,775 deer gun licenses in 2010, with more than 99 percent issued to hunters. This fall 109,950 licenses were available to hunters, 6,825 fewer than last year and the lowest since 2001.
The survey not only calculates harvest rates, but also how much time hunters spend in the field. It will be interesting to see how that statistic shakes out this year.
When I worked the field as a game warden, I realized how every hour after the 12 noon opener the pool of potential deer hunters would shrink. Ask any game warden, and they’ll tell you the final Sunday of even the best deer season can be pretty sparse in terms of hunter activity.
About the only people out are those who may not have had an earlier opportunity, are waiting for the right deer, or had enough licenses to fill that it took all three weekends.
While we’re waiting to find out the statistics from the 2011 deer season, the Game and Fish Department also analyzes aerial surveys for both mule deer whitetails, and monitors a number of other population indices, including deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.
Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leier’s blog can be found online