Deer hunting season kicks off

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Friday is unofficially a holiday in North Dakota. It’s the opening of deer gun season. But this year will be unlike any other.

Normally the fields are crawling with orange vests, but this year it’s tough to spot a hunter and even more difficult to find a deer.

When hunting lodge owner Jeremy Doan opens the window of his ground blind he doesn’t like what he sees.

“Every year I’ve gone out I’ve seen so many numbers of good quality deer and big numbers of them. This year it honestly looks like the apocalypse. There’s no deer around,” said Doan, owner of Rolling Plains Adventures at Black Leg Ranch.

There are 75 tree stands and ground blinds on Doan’s property. None of them will be occupied by deer hunters this fall.

“So, on a normal year, especially during the rut or gun season which starts today, we’ll probably see a minimum of 50 deer a sit,” said Doan.

These fields are vacant because EHD has decimated the state’s deer population.

The lack of deer isn’t just felt in the field, it’s also impacting the kitchen.

During the first weekend in November the hunting lodge’s cook, Shanda Morgan, is normally sweating over a hot stove all day long, but this year she’s had to flip the menu.

“Our appetizers are always the pheasant, the waterfowl, or the deer. We say they’re the slay of the day,” said Morgan, cook for Rolling Plains Adventure.

This business is adjusting to the current set of circumstances

“We still have our bird hunters, our pheasant hunters. So as far as that goes, that hasn’t affected us. But the deer, by far, it’s really sad to see,” added Morgan.

Few shots will be heard in fields across the state.

“Fortunately enough we know a lot of landowners surrounding us, we know everybody’s on board to let whatever deer are around live. You know, we practice quality deer management, and it is impossible to practice that without the deer right now,” added Doan.

Doan thinks it’ll be three to four years before hunters spot more mature bucks from their hunting blinds.

After over one thousand reports of dead, diseased deer throughout the state, Game and Fish offered license refunds. Around 10 percent of North Dakota deer hunters requested a refund this year.

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