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Fewer than two-thirds of gun hunters bagged a deer in 2014; low deer population a big reason

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BISMARCK, North Dakota — Fewer than two-thirds of hunters killed a deer during last year's gun season in North Dakota, the state Game and Fish Department said Monday.

The agency said 43,500 hunters killed about 26,300 deer, for a success rate of only about 60 percent. That was up only slightly from 55 percent the previous year.

Hunter success for white-tailed bucks last year was 60 percent, and for white-tailed does 56 percent. Mule deer buck success was 82 percent. No mule deer doe licenses were issued last year.

Hunters with any-antlered or any-antlerless licenses generally kill white-tailed deer, as those licenses are issued predominantly for hunting units with mostly whitetails, the agency said. Buck hunters had a success rate of 65 percent, while doe hunters had a success rate of 63 percent.

Muzzleloader success was 44 percent. Bow-hunting success was 30 percent.

The 48,000 deer gun licenses made available in the state last year were the fewest since 1980, due to declining habitat and several tough winters that took a toll on deer populations.

Game and Fish is in the process of determining recommendations for licenses in the 2015 deer proclamation. The recommendations will be discussed at public meetings around the state in late March and early April, and Game and Fish will send the proclamation to the governor's office for approval in late April.

The number of deer licenses depends on many factors, including harvest rates, aerial population surveys, depredation reports and comments from the public.

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