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Looking for anything that qualifies as good news has become a new pastime for some. Given the daily continued pandemic news, it’s no wonder my phone, email and casual conversations have spiked from people asking about how the deer and pheasants fared this winter.

Well, hunters looking for a bit of good news got some recently, when the North Dakota Game and Fish Department announced a license increase for the 2020 deer gun season. The actual numbers are 69,050 deer gun licenses available to hunters, 3,550 more than last year.

As a closer look inside the numbers shows that any-antlered licenses increased by 1,500 from last year, any-antlerless by 1,600, antlered whitetail by 250, antlerless whitetail by 200, and antlered and antlerless mule deer licenses remained the same.

In addition, muzzleloader licenses increased by 70, and restricted youth antlered mule deer licenses remained the same.

Hunters also need to pay special attention to continued chronic wasting disease and management regulations. The 2020-21 chronic wasting disease proclamation requires hunters harvesting a deer in units 3A1, 3B1, 3F2, 4B and 4C cannot transport the whole carcass outside of the unit, with the exception that hunters can transport the whole deer carcass between adjoining CWD carcass restricted units.

Also in the CWD proclamation, it is unlawful for an individual to hunt big game over bait, or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, in deer hunting units 3A1, 3A2, 3A3 north of U.S. Highway 2, 3B1, 3C west of the Missouri River, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B and 4C.

One key point to remember is that the deadline to apply is June 3. Applicants for regular deer gun, youth and muzzleloader can apply online through the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or call 800-406-6409. A service fee is charged for applications made through the 800 number.

Landowners must apply for gratis licenses online-only.

Beginning this year, a general game and habitat license is required at the time of application for a deer license. If the applicant has not already purchased one for the 2020-21 season, the license will be added to their cart upon checkout. The applicant has the option of having the general game and habitat license refunded if their deer license is not drawn in the lottery.   

Gratis applicants who have previously applied online will automatically have their land description carried forward to this year’s application. However, any changes with land descriptions from last year’s application must be made prior to submitting the 2020 application.

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline will qualify for an any-legal-deer license. As per state law, gratis applications received after the deadline will be processed based on licenses remaining after the lottery. Generally, only antlerless licenses remain.

One last point. If you like to make sure you have vacation time scheduled for the opener and season, the 2020 deer gun season is set to run from Nov. 6 at noon through Nov. 22.

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