Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jason R. Boulanger


North Dakota’s white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (O. hemionus) populations have declined significantly since their peak in 2008-2009. This may be due to heavy harvest pressure in an effort to reduce deer depredation on agricultural crops, a series of harsh winters, habitat fragmentation or loss, predation, and disease. In 2009, about 144,400 deer gun hunting licenses were allocated through a lottery system by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDGF). Interest in deer hunting in North Dakota is high, with more than 69,700 resident and non-resident hunters applying for the 43,275 licenses available for the 2015 deer-gun hunting season by a lottery system. In 2014 the NDGF became interested in learning more about the demographic composition, desires of deer hunters in the state, and in exploring potential regulatory changes. To these ends NDGF contracted with the University of North Dakota Biology Department to conduct a human dimensions survey of North Dakota deer hunters. The objectives of this study were to 1.) collect North Dakota deer hunter demographics; 2.) assess factors influencing satisfaction and harvest success in four groups of hunters: firearms, archery, muzzleloader, and landowner/gratis; 3.) evaluate the potential effects of NDGF converting to a completely computer-based licensing and surveying system; and 4.) determine public perceptions of deer population decline in the state. A questionnaire was distributed to 4,000 randomly selected North Dakota resident deer license applicants from the 2015–2016 deer hunting season during April of 2016. From the completed and returned questionnaires, NDGF will be able to make informed decisions about regulation changes for future deer hunting seasons.