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For several months now, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has spread the word to let hunters know the agency is no longer using paper applications for its lottery licenses.

This new process began last fall with applications for swan and fall turkey. It continued this year with spring turkey and moose, elk and bighorn sheep, all in preparation for online-only applications for deer gun and muzzleloader licenses, which involves significantly more people than all the other lottery licenses combined.

That deer license application period is here now, with the recent signing of the 2018 deer season proclamation. The official tally for licenses available to hunters this year is 55,150, 650 more than last year. 

Looking a little closer at the license breakout, antlered mule deer licenses increased by 150 from last year, antlerless mule deer by 550, antlered whitetail by 150 and antlerless whitetail by 150. The Department reduced the number of "any antlered" licenses by 100, and reduced "any antlerless" licenses by 250.

In addition, restricted youth antlered mule deer licenses increased by 15, and muzzleloader licenses remained the same. As in the past several years, no mule deer doe licenses are available in unit 4A.

Prospective regular deer gun, youth and muzzleloader hunters can apply online through the Game and Fish Department’s website at, or call 800-406-6409. 

Applicants who may not have access to a computer can submit the application at a public service location, such as a public library, stop at a Game and Fish office or request help from a friend, relative or neighbor.

The deadline for applying is June 6. The 2018 regular deer gun season opens Nov. 6 and runs through Nov. 25.

One more thought on the deer application process. While online-only improves the time it takes to complete an application, and it should reduce the turn-around time between the application deadline and when hunters find out lottery results, that doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to apply.

Last year, with an application period that was open almost four weeks, nearly 15,000 people submitted their online applications during the last 24 hours. More than 8,000 of those waited until the evening of deadline day to apply. Nearly 1,400 people waited until the last hour. At one point, around 10 p.m., more than 2,000 people were on the Game and Fish website at once, temporarily bogging down the system.

Getting your application in early won’t improve your odds in the lottery, but it will help reduce the last-minute rush.