Deer Disease Leads to Reduced Hunting Licenses

By Brodie SwisherMay 18, 2022

North Dakota has become a hot spot for deer hunters across the country in recent years. Some would say it’s even getting a little “crowded” on some of the public land honey holes. However, that all may change for the 2022 hunting season with a reduction in licenses for the upcoming season. 

A recent Associated Press report says the number of licenses for this year’s deer hunt in North Dakota has been reduced because of an outbreak of a viral disease last year.

The state Game and Fish Department is making 64,200 licenses available, down 8,000 from last year. And while the license reduction applies strictly to firearm hunters at this point, it raises the question of whether bowhunters will be impacted in the days to come as well. 

Deer Disease Leads To Reduced Hunting Licenses In North Dakota
Due to deer disease, less hunting opportunities are on the horizon for the 2022 season.

“Epizootic hemorrhagic disease dramatically reduced white-tailed deer numbers along the Missouri River and parts of some western hunting units” in 2021, department Wildlife Chief Casey Anderson said. “As a result, license allocations in some units were dramatically reduced.”

The drought in North Dakota last year created perfect breeding areas for biting gnats that transmit the disease. It impacts white-tailed deer more than mule deer, due to the makeup of the animals. It’s not considered a danger to people, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The disease also impacted the success of hunters during last November’s gun season. Overall success fell sharply from 68% in 2020 to 57% in 2021, and was below the state’s threshold for a “good” season for the 13th consecutive year.

From the Regs

Licenses Available by Season

Deer Bow – Resident bow licenses are valid for any deer and are not limited. Nonresident bow licenses valid for any white-tailed deer statewide are not limited. Nonresident any-deer bow licenses are limited to 810, a number equal to 15 percent of the total mule deer gun season licenses made available during the previous year.

Deer Gun – No more than 64,200 licenses, including gratis licenses, will be issued. Special permits designating type of deer and unit are a part of the gun license.


The department’s recent five-year goal of getting annual licenses to the 75,000 mark expired last year. Officials are reviewing the goal given things that weren’t factored into it, such as an increase of chronic wasting disease, according to Anderson.

“In the five-year goal we had, we were fairly conservative with deer licenses, on the cautious side; with CWD that’s not necessarily the case,” he said.

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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