WI: Archery deer prospects exceed 2010

Green Bay, Wis. – Not only are Wisconsin’s archery deer hunters
expected to see a season better than last year’s, but also it’s
anticipated that bowhunters will be able to hunt with their archery
gear during the nine-day gun deer season.

According to several sources, the latter is less speculative than
the former.

DNR Northeast Region biologist Jeff Pritzl and DNR rules specialist
Scott Loomans said nothing is set in stone just yet as far as the
new “bow-in-gun-season” rule goes, but the legal process in making
it so was nearly complete last week.

“All of the arrows are pointing in the right direction,” Pritzl

Loomans works with hunting regulations, rule changes, and the
legislative process. He’s been working the new archery rule change
through each hurdle since the Natural Resources Board approved the
change in May.

He said that it first looked as though the change wouldn’t occur
until the 2012 season, but when the Conservation Congress asked if
the change could be made in time for the 2011 season, the DNR and
legislators stepped up their efforts to make it happen.

“I’m predicting it will be in effect,” Loomans said. “I’m now
telling people that it seems likely (that the rule) will be in
effect this fall in time for hunting seasons, but nothing is
official until the end of legislative committee review after Sept.

“The rule has cleared the standing natural resources committees
(House and Senate), which are where you would expect a policy
objection to have come up if it were going to,” he said. “The rules
are now in the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules,
the last step in the process other than a fair amount of paperwork
that DNR handles. The proposal has not been controversial.”

Bowhunters will want to follow their favorite news source to learn
just when the bow-in-gun-season rule is approved.

When the change is made, Pritzl said archers will be allowed to use
archery gear and archery deer tags to shoot deer during the gun
deer season. All bowhunters will have to wear blaze orange during
the gun season, even if they’re hunting on private land, he

“You will be able to archery deer hunt through the gun season by
hunting on the authority of your archery license,” Pritzl said.
“You could not fill gun permits with archery gear, or archery tags
with guns.”

Season outlook

Pritzl and Northern Region wildlife biologist Mike Zeckmeister, of
Spooner, both expect bowhunters – and all deer hunters as the
season goes on – to have a good season, with more deer sightings
than the past two years.

“I see no reason not to expect that we will not see an improved
buck kill this year over last year, whether it comes over the
archery season, gun season, or both,” Pritzl said.

He said deer numbers are solid, even though hunters may question
the numbers in some areas. He said the only thing that could have a
negative impact on hunter success now would be extended periods of
poor hunting conditions during the archery season, or poor hunting
conditions on opening weekend of the gun deer season.

Zeckmeister shared Pritzl’s outlook and added one other possibility
– that there will be more larger bucks around this fall.

“I think we’re still carrying over bucks from that 2009 season,”
Zeckmeister said. “We’ve demonstrated that the 2009 harvest was
suppressed because of poor hunting conditions on opening weekend. I
think that was proved last year with the big increase in buck
harvest in northern Wisconsin from 2009 numbers. I think that
archers will be the first to see that. There are some older-aged
bucks out there.”

If both points are true – that there are more older bucks and more
deer overall – then Wisconsin bowhunters can expect to kill more
than 83,833 deer this fall. That’s how many deer archers registered
last year. Of that number, 42,115 were bucks, 40,681 were does or
fawns, and 1,037 deer were registered without the sex of the animal
noted on the stub.

Last year, gun hunters registered 253,038 deer, of which 106,263
were bucks, 144,530 were antlerless, and 2,245 were of unknown

Those buck-kill totals were up somewhat from 2009, when archers
shot 41,402 bucks and gun hunters shot 92,754 bucks.

Archers killed more deer overall in 2009 than 2010 – 87,241 in 2009
vs. 83,833 in 2010 – but the difference there came in the
antlerless column. There were 18 “no-bow-doe” units in 2010 where
antlerless deer were off-limits to bow and gun hunters.

The 2010 total gun deer kill of 253,038 exceeded the 2009 gun kill
of 241,862.

There are more herd-control units this year than last. Not counting
state parks or CWD units, there were 37 herd-control units in 2010,
and there are 64 herd-control units this year.

Adding in state park units, there were 46 herd-control units (nine
parks) in 2010 and 74 (10 parks) in 2011. Adding in CWD units (22),
the numbers become 68 herd-control units in 2010 and 96 this

The total statewide antlerless deer quota in 2010 was 245,600
animals. It is 344,180 in 2011.

Pritzl cautions against using those quota – and subsequent
antlerless tag numbers – from forming expectations for the fall

He said those numbers better demonstrate an increase in needed
antlerless deer harvest in 2011.

“For many of the herd-control units that are well above goal, the
established antlerless quota is unattainable – we’ve never killed
that many before. Although the 2010 quota was 245,600 antlerless
deer, only 185,211 were actually killed. We won’t kill 344,000
antlerless deer this year. If the percentage stays the same as last
year, we may kill 75 percent of that quota and kill somewhere in
the neighborhood of 250,000 to 260,000 antlerless deer this year
(bow, gun, and muzzleloader),” he said.

The archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 17, statewide.

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