Floods Affect Deer and Deer Hunting

By Chris Berens, D&DH Intern
Deer find dry ground quickly during floods.
Mother Nature has once again declared her power to North Dakota’s deer, deer hunters and the state Game and Fish Department. The department has decided to postpone a trial herd reduction hunt along the Missouri River northwest of Bismarck due to flooding. According to a NDGF news release, 200 antlerless deer licenses were to be issued beginning Aug. 1 to assist in reducing the deer population in a limited area comprised of mostly private land.

The hunt will have to wait another year so the department can assess the condition of the habitat and the deer numbers in the area. NDGF was planning on matching deer hunters possessing a hunting permission form with landowners that would allow access to their properties, but most of the landowners are dealing with flood problems of their own, the news release said. The area will still be open to deer hunting for the normal archery and firearm seasons.

Earlier this summer the NDGF extended the deer license application deadline from June 8 to June 15 because of the historic flooding problems around the state, according to another department news release. Governor Jack Dalrymple signed the extension that Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand said would allow hunters to catch up after having more dire issues on their minds. This marks the first time that the deadline has ever been extended.

Deer hunters may need more than knee boots to traverse their hunting grounds this fall if floodwaters do not recede; not only in the Dakotas, but also in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana and several other states. Floods take a toll on deer, but most deer management biologists agree that deer are very adept at escaping floods and finding safe havens. Only time will tell how affected deer and habitats will rebound, but history shows a good prognosis.