What’s in store for 2001 deer hunters?

Editor

Madison While hunters, wildlife biologists and state officials
are still talking about the unbelievable strides the state has
taken to reduce deer numbers, one biologist hinted the heavy
lifting may not yet be over.

Bill Mytton could not hide his excitement and enthusiasm over
the 2000 deer seasons during a presentation to the Natural
Resources Board Dec. 6 in Madison.

“Wow, what a deer season we’re having,” said Mytton, the DNR’s
state deer ecologist.

“Where are we now? We’re probably looking at an overall kill of
more than 600,000 deer. That puts us up there with Pennsylvania,
Texas and Michigan,” he said.

“But, this is not a one-year fix. We will have to come back next
year. I don’t know if I should say this, but I think we
underestimated our herd size at this point.”

Going into the season, DNR biologists put state deer numbers at
1.7 million, one of the highest levels ever.

“With a harvest of 600,000, we should be at 1.1 million deer
over winter. I believe we’re a little higher than that,” Mytton
said.

“Given an average winter, we could be where we started at by
next fall. That’s why I would say we shouldn’t slack off (on
antlerless deer harvests). We’re still in a catch-up mode, although
there are specific units where we did gain ground,” he said.

“There are still some challenges ahead and I hope everyone takes
them seriously. There are no more short-term fixes; we have to plan
for the long term.”

In just which units the DNR gained ground with the help of deer
hunters remains to be seen. Between now and the end of January,
biologists and wildlife managers are going to running numbers
through various formulas to come up with their best possible herd
estimate in each management unit. Once those numbers come in and
managers can compare population estimates to over-winter goals in
each unit, Mytton will be able to recommend antlerless deer harvest
goals for each unit.

He did not rule out the chance that more Zone T-type of seasons
might be needed in some units.

December Zone T hunt

For once, Tom Bahti was wrong but he was also the closest to the
truth.

Few DNR wildlife managers wanted to take a guess at how many
antlerless deer hunters would kill during the Dec. 7-10 Zone T
hunt.

At the time, Bahti, a DNR wildlife manager in Green Bay, said
that if hunters could shoot 10,000 deer, the season would be “a
screaming success.”

Well, a preliminary survey of the state’s registration stations
showed that hunters brought in 16,614 antlerless deer from the
December hunt.

“We saw excellent weather across most of the four-day hunt.
There was sufficient snow cover and temperatures were cold, but not
so cold that hunters should have been uncomfortable,” Mytton
said.

Hunters shot 67,389 antlerless deer during the October Zone T
hunt.

“We expected the total number taken in this hunt to be much less
than the October hunt,” Mytton said.

Wisconsin has extended gun deer hunting several times over the
past decade to control high populations in farmland deer management
units. But, this year, 86 of the 132 deer units were included in
the early and late antlerless gun hunts and for the first time some
central and northern forest units were included.

Amazing numbers

The DNR got what it hoped for, and maybe a little more. With the
67,389 deer from the October Zone T, 16,614 from the late Zone T,
433,967 deer during the nine-day hunt an early archery harvest of
62,902, Wisconsin hunters have killed 580,872 white-tailed deer so
far this fall. That number does not include the muzzleloader kill,
late bow season, crop damage deer or tribal harvest.

The previous record for deer killed by archers and gun hunters
was 494,407 last season, which broke the record of 467,271 set in
1995, DNR spokesman Bob Manwell said.

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