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Deer hunting outlook good for central North Dakota

A good fall crop harvest should increase visibility as well.

Whitetail Deer
With little standing corn in the fields this year, deer hunters may have better opportunities. Keith Norman / The Sun

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- North Dakota deer hunters in the central part of the state are looking forward to the season, according to Gary Docktor, owner of Gun & Reel Sports in Jamestown.

The season begins at noon Friday, Nov. 6.

"People are ready to get out and do something," he said, referring to limitations people are facing in traveling and socializing due to the coronavirus pandemic. "There probably is more enthusiasm than the last couple of years."

Another factor that could help bolster hunter enthusiasm and success has to do with the weather and harvest progress in the region. Brian Kietzman, wildlife biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Jamestown, said this is the first year in the last several without a lot of standing crops in the fields.

"There will be very little standing corn when deer season begins," he said. "There should be a good harvest."


The corn harvest is also a good omen for pheasant hunters.

"Typically, pheasant harvest picks up when the corn is harvested," he said.

Deer numbers are a bit of an unknown this year because of the amount of corn that was still in the fields last winter. Aerial surveys weren't able to get a good count because the corn fields provided good cover for the animals.

Kietzman said the health of the deer in central North Dakota should be good.

Landowners in western North Dakota reported cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, more commonly known as EHD. The disease is spread by gnats and is more deadly in whitetail rather than mule deer.

Outbreaks of the disease prompted North Dakota Game and Fish to offer refunds to about 9,000 license holders in 12 different units.

"That is typically not a problem we see around here," Kietzman said, referring to central North Dakota. "Although there were some problems with it reported in Dickey and Sargent counties this year."

Hunters that bag a deer that looks thin and ill are asked to furnish the head of the animal to Game and Fish for testing, he said.


Docktor said the corn harvest will have pushed the deer into the cattail sloughs and tall grass.
"People will still have to work for their deer," he said.

The weather, particularly a lot of snow on the ground when the season opens, can be another factor in hunter success but that isn't the most important element for some hunters.

"It is still a social thing," he said. "That is a big part of it for a lot of hunters."

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