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Deer numbers for upcoming hunt uncertain

Wisconsin deer hunters are gearing up for the nine-day gun season that begins on Saturday. And there are mixed opinions on how well they'll do.

DNR warden supervisor Jeremy Peery in Eau Claire says the deer population appears to be fairly steady from a year ago in northwest Wisconsin. That's based on the number of bucks being spotted, and the recent numbers of car-deer crashes. Rick Backhaus of Wabeno, who registers deer in northeast Wisconsin, says he and others have seen a lot more animals this year -- and he hopes for a strong harvest.

But Cheryl Moey is not as optimistic. She registers deer at Gordon, south of Superior. Moey said the numbers of deer taken by bow hunters has been down this fall, and she expects the gun season to be just as slow. The 2009 deer harvest was down by almost a-third from the year before, prompting accusations that the DNR was mismanaging the herd.

Last year, the total deer take was up slightly to around 253,000. And the state recently hired an analyst to suggest ways to better manage the herd.