DNR: Deer herd is about 1.7 million
Madison — When the 2005 archery deer season opens on Saturday,
Sept. 17, bowhunters should be perched on the threshold of some
pretty good hunting opportunities and a pre-hunt deer herd
estimated at 1.7 million, according to Keith Warnke, DNR deer
However, Warnke said he does not expect bowhunters to set new
harvest records during the 2005 season.
“I hope I’m wrong. I’m ready to be proved wrong, but we do not
have earn-a-buck (EAB) this year, except in CWD zones – and even
there (EAB is) limited compared to past years,” Warnke said.
Last year bowhunters registered 103,572 deer to set a new
archery harvest record. Gun hunters shot 413,794. State Indian
tribes registered 2,022 deer. Those totals combined for a 2004
statewide harvest of 519,388 deer, the second highest deer kill
ever recorded in Wisconsin.
Still, some hunters were disappointed with that outcome –
perhaps because of the number of EAB and Zone T units last
What should hunters think about 2005?
“Well, there are still tons of opportunities – lots of
antlerless tags in almost every unit,” Warnke said. “Archers are an
important tool in deer herd management. I would encourage them to
enjoy themselves while helping to manage the deer herd.”
Warnke believes the overall 2005 deer kill – bow, gun,
muzzleloader, tribal and ag tags – will be down from last year.
“My rough guess would be 400,000 to 450,000 deer,” he said. “I
don’t expect bowhunters to set a record again. I haven’t seen any
statewide fawn-to-doe ratio numbers yet, but my northern Wisconsin
fawn-to-doe ratio is not up to snuff. That’s all anecdotal, though.
We’ll have to wait a little longer to see some hard numbers. In the
southern part of the state, I would expect fawn production to be
right on par.”
The archery deer season will run from Sept. 17 through Nov. 17
and again from Nov. 28 through Jan. 3, 2006. The 10-day break is
for the traditional November gun season. Archers are restricted to
antlerless deer only in designated Zone T units during the Oct.
27-30 and Dec. 8-11 Zone T hunts. Archers must wear blaze orange
during these time periods, as do all hunters other than waterfowl
Hunters with disabilities will hunt deer from Oct. 1-9. This
hunt was created to give disabled hunters an opportunity to bag a
deer during milder weather. This hunt takes place primarily on
A look at 2004
State wildlife officials, using harvest totals and age data
collected from a sample of the registered harvest, estimated the
2004 pre-hunt deer population was 1.64 million animals
Together, archers and gun hunters registered 351,343 antlerless
deer. The early Zone T gun hunt yielded 72,358 deer and the late
Zone T gun hunt (south of Hwy. 8 only) brought in another 14,324
Bowhunters set a new harvest record in 2004 at 103,572, breaking
the previous record of 95,607 set in 2003. Archers registered
93,427 deer in the early season and 10,145 in the late season.
The DNR Bureau of Customer Service and Licensing reported that
state residents bought 616,453 gun deer licenses and 244,728
archery licenses in 2004. This represents a 1-percent increase in
gun license sales and a 2-percent increase in archery license sales
over 2003. In 2004, all types of deer license purchases, including
resident and nonresident, gun and archery, totaled 907,414.
“The harvest of over 350,000 antlerless deer last year was a
tremendous effort by hunters and is great progress toward getting a
handle on high deer populations,” Warnke said. “Effort like this is
what is needed to reduce the need for non-traditional seasons like
Zone T, reduce agricultural damages, and get back to the
traditional archery, nine-day and muzzleloader seasons nearly
everyone would like to see.”
Warnke also reported that:
- Fawn production in 2004 was at or below the statewide long-term
mean, especially in the northern third of the state;
- 48 units were in Zone T;
- 26 units were EAB;
- more than 1 million antlerless deer permits were issued in
- 8,352 deer were killed on ag tags;
- there were two deer hunting-related fatalities, the second
safest season in the past 20 years.
Venison donation program
A venison donation program will again be offered this year.
Participating meat processors can be found on the DNR web site.
Hunters are encouraged to harvest extra deer in overpopulated units
and donate any venison they can’t use to this program, Warnke