Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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WI: Early gun deer kill tally tops take of 2009

Madison – Preliminary 2010 gun deer season harvest numbers in
Wisconsin totaled 218,381 deer. This includes 102,205 bucks (an
increase of 17 percent over 2009 preliminary numbers) and 116,176
antlerless deer (a 6-percent increase over 2009 preliminary
numbers).

For comparison, the 2009 nine-day harvest was 201,994 deer,
including 86,516 bucks and 114,058 antlerless deer. The 2008
nine-day kill was 285,243 deer – 98,304 bucks and 185,718
antlerless. In 2007, hunters shot 354,384 deer – 124,895 bucks and
228,400 antlerless.

Keith Warnke, DNR deer ecologist, said there were 19 buck-only
units this year that brought the harvest down

“You should take these figures with a grain of salt, since this
is based on calls to registration stations and is not the official
count of stubs from all registrations,” Warnke said.

“We’ll have a far more complete accounting of stubs in
mid-January, but I think we’ll see some substantial increases in
antlerless harvest in southern Wisconsin,” Warnke said.

The antlerless kill will be down substantially in the
north-central and northeast counties where antlerless deer were
mostly off-limits. However, in Florence County where last year no
antlerless hunting was allowed, it will be just the reverse, as
more than 280 antlerless deer were registered this November.

Regarding buck registrations in central Wisconsin, there were
substantial increases that Warnke attributed to recent years when
these units included only limited antlerless hunting.

In only two counties, Richland and Rock, did the buck harvest
decline by more than 10 percent.

This was the second year the DNR opened a web survey, where
hunters could go onto the DNR site and provide comments. They
ranked the weather on opening day better than last year. They
reported hunting 7.5 hours per day on the opening weekend, compared
with 8.1 in 2009. They reported seeing more deer, with .26 deer per
hour on opening weekend, compared with .18 in 2009.

“These numbers will allow us to track and interpret hunter
observations, and provide information for our deer population
model,” Warnke said.

So far, the preliminary numbers show the buck harvest is up
slightly over 2009, but below the high levels of earlier this
decade.

Also, 1.1 antlerless deer have been registered for every buck,
the lowest ratio since the early 1990s. The reason, Warnke said, is
because there were far fewer antlerless tags available this
year.

This year’s early archery harvest showed 44,810 deer as of early
December (including 22,314 bucks and 21,990 antlerless deer). The
harvest during the first two weeks of the early bow season was up 8
percent over the previous year’s first two weeks.

The October youth deer hunt accounted for 11,300 mentored gun
deer licenses sold and a harvest of 3,520 deer.

The October antlerless gun deer hunt in 62 units included more
than 9,000 stubs in the harvest.

Warnke said that because of the concern that a deer from a deer
farm in Ashland County might have had CWD (final tests showed it
was not positive), the DNR went forward with collecting 150 samples
to check for the disease in that vicinity. The first results,
released after the Dec. 7 Natural Resources Board meeting, showed
that 12 samples from deer in Ashland County and 131 from Bayfield
County were negative.

This year 5,600 samples have been taken from deer shot in the
CWD zones. So far, 1,900 samples have been analyzed with 29 samples
being positive for CWD.

The DNR’s new deer research programs are ready to go, and Warnke
said researchers were waiting for snow.

One of the research projects will look at the change in hunter
participation rates. Warnke said that one of the biggest decreases
in gun deer hunting participation is from males in the age range
from 25 to 44 years of age. The researchers want to learn what is
changing for these hunters, and how that trend can be reversed.

NRB member Dave Clausen noted that for the last two years
hunters in his area complained that there have been few deer, but
now people are seeing more big 21⁄2-year-old bucks.

Clausen asked if the DNR had any plans to change to registering
deer by phone, as in some other states. DNR Wildlife Management
Director Tom Hauge acknowledged that hunters have some skepticism
about deer populations, but one thing that they believe is
registration numbers. The key is getting technology to supercede
that level of trust.

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