Opening weekend deer harvest shows 22 percent dropResults from opening weekend for Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun-deer hunt was dramatically lower than 2007.
Results from opening weekend for Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun-deer hunt was dramatically lower than 2007.
Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources say a preliminary tally shows 133,828 deer were harvested this past weekend – a 22 percent drop from last year.
Hunting conditions varied from sub-zero to chilly and overcast on opening morning.
Buck harvest statewide was down 25 percent and antlerless harvest declined 20 percent.
Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources stressed that this is a preliminary call-around tally that will change when all registration stubs are submitted by registration stations and entered into the department's registration data base.
In St. Croix County over the weekend 326 bucks were taken along with 692 antlerless deer for a total of 1,108, compared to 1,417 last year.
Totals in Pierce County also dropped. There 689 bucks and 1,238 antlerless were taken for a total of 1,928 deer harvested. Last year the total was 2,340.
In Polk County, 1,434 bucks and 2024 antlerless deer were taken for a total of 3,458, a drop from last year’s total of 4,672.
Pepin County was the only county in the region that beat last year’s totals.
Last year a total of 1,174 deer were harvested in the opening weekend there. This year 383 bucks along with 795 antlerless brought the total harvest to 1,178.
Totals in Dunn County also dropped. There, a total of 2,787 deer were taken compared to 3,574 last year.
The number of deer harvested in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties also dropped.
Wildlife officials say several factors likely contributed to the lower count including lower deer numbers after several years of herd reduction strategies, very cold hunting conditions on opening morning in northern units, a late opening weekend that missed the peak of the rutting season, poor fawn recruitment this year, and tough winter conditions last year after a string of mild winters.
“Although this is a preliminary count, we may be seeing the result of a tough winter and several seasons designed bring deer numbers down. DNR staff across the state reported that hunters were seeing fewer deer and hearing fewer shots this year,” said Keith Warnke, a DNR deer biologist.
He added that hunters are having a positive impact on lowering the overpopulation of deer in several areas.