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Wisconsin gun deer season: Up 11 percent

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I can't wait to hear what those hunters who saw nothing think when they hear the Wisconsin DNR preliminarily reported an 11-percent increase in deer harvest during the nine-day gun season from 2009 season.

Two other items jump out: foremost, there were no firearm-related fatalities; second, buck harvest (102,006) was up 17 percent from 2009.

Here's the gist:

A survey of Wisconsin deer registration stations conducted by the state Department of Natural Resources has yielded a preliminary tally of 218,144 for the just-ended, nine-day November gun deer hunt, an 11 percent increase over the 2009 nine-day season. The opener was highlighted by good hunting conditions on opening day and no firearm-related fatalities for only the second time on record (see related news release).

Statewide, hunters registered 102,006 bucks (a 17 percent increase over 2009) and 116,138 antlerless deer (a nearly 7 percent increase over 2009). Gun deer license sales totaled 621,094 at the close of the hunt.

The nine-day harvest numbers are preliminary and are expected to change before a final report is published in late winter. It does not include harvest information from the archery, October antlerless gun deer hunt, muzzleloader, December antlerless deer gun hunt or late archery seasons. The preliminary nine-day gun harvest count in 2009 was 196,688.

A table of county by county (pdf; 39kb) harvest broken down by DNR region, with a comparison to the 2009 preliminary harvest is available on the DNR Web site.

"This season included more regular units with a substantial number of buck only units as many units in the northern and central forest regions are close to population goals or are below goals," said Keith Warnke. "Wildlife management and especially deer management is a process of continual adjustment. This season's structure was influenced by deer hunters, population goal changes, last year's deer harvest, and the resulting estimated local deer populations."

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Even though the overall deer kill numbers may have increased by 11%, that doesn't mean the deer population has increased. In fact, the deer numbers have been declining since 2001. I hunted in unit 54A in Adams County and didn't see any deer during gun season. After reading comments on this website, newpaper articles and talking to other hunters, the deer population in Adams County and other counties has dropped significantly the past five years. We have the power to combat the DNR's deer eradication program. The DNR sells antlerless tags, but hunters actually pull the trigger. We're hurting the sport we love. We need to stop buying antlerless tags and stop shooting does for 2 or 3 years to get the numbers back up. We should also reduce the coyote population before the fawns are born next spring. My hunting party practices Quality Deer Management and will only shoot trophy bucks the next 2-3 years. I realize shooting does is part of QDM, but we need to let the deer population return to normal first. Hunters unite for a common cause...we all want to see more deer!

In what area were the mist deer harvest?

To answer Mike Bacon's question, "Where were the most deer harvested?" The West Central Region reported 35,112 bucks and 41,780 antlerless killed for a total of 76,892 this year. Marathon and Clark counties had the highest numbers in this region. Polk County in the northern region had the most deer kills in the state with 8,560 and Barron came in second with 7,105. Quite a few counties in the West Central Region registered fewer deer this year, including Adams County where I hunt which had 18% fewer bucks killed and a 4% drop in antlerless deer. The DNR sold 7,367 antlerless tags out of 10,100 available in unit 54A and only 1400 antlerless deer were killed in Adams County. That’s pretty strong evidence there just aren’t many deer left to shoot.

I hope the DNR isn't taking the increase in harvest as a sign that the population is rebounding nicely. Lets not forget that last year was down by 30% and that was down from a year that was down significantly as well.
Lets also consider the accuracy of the 11% increase... I think the 11% and for sure the 17% increase in bucks harvested is due much more to the late rut this year than any real significant increase in population. Obviously more deer are going to be seen and shot when the rut coincides with the gun season. I do think that the heard is up a bit from last year but it has a long way to go.

I recieved a letter from an employee of the DNR ( a reply to a letter I sent) stating that their goal is 20 Deer per square mile OF HABITAT. That means in farm country you take away a very large amount of the land, so you are actually looking at much less than 20 deer per square mile.

In Iowa they understand how to keep a good hunting tradition and they actually have hunters working for the DNR and making deer herd managment decisions. You know what their herd goals are??? 45 deer per square mile. That is actual square miles not square miles of habitat.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 1, 2010 3:40 PM.

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