Preliminary Count Shows Wisconsin Hunters Harvested 226,260 Deer During the Nine-day Season
No hunting fatalities recorded for second consecutive year
A call around survey of 600-plus deer registration stations all across Wisconsin completed today shows a preliminary harvest total of 226,260 for the just completed nine-day gun deer hunting season, up 3.6 percent from 2010. At the same time, hunters posted the second all around safest season on record.
The nine-day harvest numbers are preliminary and are expected to change before a final report is published in late winter. The total 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 2010 was 218,144 and in 2009 was 201,994.
“Overall participation was good. We had a 3.6 percent increase in deer harvested compared to 2010 and the reports that we’ve been getting in from the field are that in many parts of the state hunters saw more deer,” stated Tom Hauge, wildlife director for the state Department of Natural Resources. “That said, we do know that not everyone got a deer this year, or saw a deer. The herd in parts of the state is still rebounding and that even within counties with higher harvests, deer aren’t distributed evenly.”
A table of county by county harvest (pdf) broken down by DNR region, with a comparison to the 2010 preliminary harvest is available on the DNR Web site.
The preliminary tally showed hunters harvested 102,837 bucks and 123,423 antlerless. This compared to 2010 preliminary harvest figures of 102,121 bucks and 116,160 antlerless.
“Harvests suggest that deer herds are increasing in some of the units where deer numbers were previously below goal," Hauge said. "We also saw an increase in buck harvest in the CWD zone with the new provision this year allowing hunters to shoot a buck first before having to go to earn-a-buck rules for a second buck in the zone. This was a popular change among hunters I’ve heard from.”
“As far as hunting conditions and deer observations, we will be interested in seeing the data hunters provided on their registration stubs,” added Hauge. “We know broadly what weather conditions were like, but data from individual hunters in the field provides a much more personal and localized perspective. We will summarize these finding along with the harvest totals in February.”
In February, DNR biologists will use unit-level harvest numbers to develop overwinter population estimates and will propose season structures for 2012 in March.
Deer hunt wrap up
The books have closed on Wisconsin's 160th gun deer hunt but the season's memories and tales will live for years to come. Over the past nine days the DNR Facebook page received dozens of pictures of happy hunters and some pretty impressive deer. Visitors to the page can view the photos share them with you along with a You Tube video that highlight’s Wisconsin Hunters sharing their stories.
People can join the conversation by visiting the DNR on Facebook at Facebook.com/widnr.
Late seasons now open
There are still days to hunt in 2011. The muzzleloader hunt is already underway through Dec. 7 for hunters holding unused gun buck and antlerless deer tags. There is also a statewide antlerless deer hunt Dec. 8-11.
“We could use some extra help in the CWD zones and Herd Control Units, so we want to encourage hunters to take advantage of our remaining seasons,” said Hauge. “Consider taking an extra deer for the freezer or for the deer donation program to help those in need of the meat.”
Hunters are reminded that the antlerless deer hunt Dec. 8-11 in regular units is open only to hunters with a valid antlerless deer tag for the unit in which they are hunting. Regular unit antlerless tags are still available for many units at $12 each. In herd control units, hunters can purchase as many $2 antlerless tags as they wish.
The Holiday Hunt in CWD zones in south central Wisconsin that starts Dec. 24 and lasts until Jan. 8, 2011.
Hunters asked to participate in online Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is still active until the end of all deer seasons and wildlife managers are asking hunters to send in a report of what they saw during the just completed 9-day gun hunt and during any hunting trips they make through the end of all deer hunting seasons. This data helps to provide valuable data biologists can use to help provide an additional human element to the completed deer season.
Third fatality free season on record
“Hunters can be proud of a second consecutive firearm-related, fatality-free year and the third fatality free season on record,” said Tim Lawhern, Law Enforcement Administrator. “This is an important milestone and one we hope to see again and again in future seasons.”
Overall, there were six hunting incidents during the nine-day deer gun season. Lawhern said that for the families of those injured hunters, 2011 didn't feel like a success and that everyone at DNR wishes the injured a speedy recovery. The agency only tracks firearm-related incidents and does not keep track of deaths or injuries due to heart attacks, tree stand falls or other causes.
This would make it the second all-around safest hunt ever in Wisconsin. The lowest number of incidents occurred in 2004 when there were four incidents and two of those were fatal.
Three of the incidents occurred during deer drives. Two of the incidents were self-inflicted injuries. Four incidents involved rifles and two involved shotguns. Two of the incidents involved juvenile shooters. Four of the six shooters in these incidents had completed the Hunter Safety certification course.
“Ultimately, nearly all are linked to a violation of one or more of the four basic rules of firearm safety – treat every firearm as if it is loaded, never point your firearm at a person, never put your finger in the trigger until you are ready to shoot and know what is behind your target,” Lawhern said.
The downward trend in hunting incidents speaks highly about the hunter education program, the thousand of volunteer instructors who teach the course and hunters. Hunter education is required for anyone born on or after Jan 1, 1973, and Lawhern encourages “All hunters should take the hunter education certification course – no matter the age.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kurt Thiede - (608) 266-5833, Tom Hauge (608) 266-2193 (deer and deer harvest) or Todd Schaller (608) 267-2774 (injury reports)