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Published September 21, 2010, 08:43 AM

ND program matches hunters, landowners

Deer were ravaging Marvin Neumiller’s hay a few years ago. “There were just way too deer,” the Washburn, N.D., rancher says. But the deer are now under control, thanks in part to a special program.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Deer were ravaging Marvin Neumiller’s hay a few years ago.

“There were just way too deer,” the Washburn, N.D., rancher says.

But the deer are now under control, thanks in part to a special program.

Neumiller is a former participant in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department program that seeks to reduce deer depravation problems across the state.

The program matches doe hunters — buck hunters aren’t included — with landowners suffering from a surplus of deer.

Launched in 2006, the program this year is expected to match more than 500 anterless deer hunters with about 40 landowners in 20 hunting units statewide.

The landowners all are in areas where hunting access is restricted and food is plentiful, says Bill Jensen, big game biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

For instance, the affected land could be near a grain elevator, he says.

Having a deer license allows hunters into a specified hunting unit. Being matched with one of the 40 landowners allows a hunter to identify and have access to areas where deer are most common.

“Hunting pressure is focused on problem areas,” Jensen says.

The program can help hunters and landowners develop long-lasting relationships in which the hunters return in future years, Jensen says.

Some landowners have dropped out of the program because they’ve established such relationships, he says.

Neumiller, who stresses that he isn’t looking for more hunters, no longer is in the program. The number of deer on or around his land has dropped sharply, and he has enough hunters lined up to keep the number down, he says.

Neumiller, who hunts deer himself, says he doesn’t want to reduce deer numbers too much.

Interested hunters can sign up at http://gf.nd.gov/gnfapps/huntercontact. Hunters without Internet access can call (701) 328-6300.

Hunters provide their address, the hunting unit where they hold a valid antlerless license and whether they’re using a rifle, muzzleloader or bow.

Hunters will be sent a landowner’s name and phone number, as well as details of the landowner’s specific situation. Signing up doesn’t guarantee that a hunter will be matched with a landowner.

Several recent tough winters have reduced deer numbers across the state, but some areas continue to suffer from an excess of deer, Jensen says.

North Dakota’s regular gun seasons runs from Nov. 5 to 21. There also bow, muzzleloader and youth and hunting seasons.

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