Hunters Register 303,162 Deer Over Nine-Day Season

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A preliminary total of 303,162 deer were registered by hunters at the close of Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season. Hunters registered a preliminary 304,538 deer during the same period in 2003.

“The preliminary call-in registration total was virtually identical in 2004 and 2003,” said Keith Warnke, DNR deer ecologist. “However, harvest was distributed through the state much differently as a result of Zone-T and Earn-a-Buck. In 2003, the final results of the nine-day regular gun season were 324,460 deer registered and I suspect that this year will be very close to that when all the stubs are counted.

“Hunters in the northern and northeastern regions have been harvesting large numbers of antlerless deer for the past four years and have really been doing their part for deer herd management. Reducing deer density towards goals that we have established is critical to successful herd management and to the future acceptance of hunting as the best population management tool. Hunters in Wisconsin are again showing their leadership in conservation issues.”

Wildlife officials remind hunters and citizens that the muzzleloader gun deer season opened Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 8. The late archery season also opened Nov 29 and runs through Jan. 3. A late Zone T antlerless deer hunt will also take place Dec. 9-12 in selected deer management units south of Hwy. 8.

Two hunters died and three others suffered injuries as a result of hunting accidents during the nine-day gun deer hunt. None of the accidents involved juvenile hunters.

The five hunting accidents mark the lowest number of accidents occurring in any previous gun deer season in Wisconsin, according to Tim Lawhern, hunter safety administrator for the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement.

The department tracks deaths and injuries from firearm accidents only. The data reported does not include falls from tree stands, heart attacks and other potential causes of injury or death people may experience while hunting.

The nine-day hunt also was marred by the tragedy that happened in Sawyer County during opening weekend in which one individual allegedly shot and killed six hunters and wounded two others in an apparent trespass dispute

Hunting license sales totaled 649,955 through the end of the nine-day hunt a one percent increase over the 2003 total of 645,369 according to Diane Brookbank, director of the DNR customer service and licensing bureau.

In the Chronic Wasting Disease Eradication Zone hunters were keeping an estimated 90 percent of the deer brought in from the CWD Eradication Zone this year according to biologists working the registration stations in the zone.

“The Disease Eradication Zone venison donation program is working well,” said Laurie Fike, donation program coordinator. “In other areas of the state, the venison donation program is also in full swing with a potential for a new donation record in 2004. The previous donation record was 7,765 deer,” said Fike.

State wildlife managers will continue to collect deer heads for CWD testing in and around known areas of infection. As of Nov 30, approximately 11,500 heads had been collected in the CWD management zones. Sixteen new CWD-positive deer have been found in 2004, which brings the total number of positive deer to 339. Updated collection and testing figures are expected daily as laboratory and data entry workers catch up on the heavy flow of sample deliveries produced by the hunt.