MADISON – Though hunters define success in different ways, 134,772 deer were successfully harvested and registered in Wisconsin during the opening weekend of the nine-day deer season. The tally is based on preliminary call-in numbers collected from registration stations by Department of Natural Resources staff.
“Congratulations to all hunters who were able to harvest a deer opening weekend of the nine-day. Though getting a deer is often the ultimate goal of the hunt, it is the whole experience of getting out there with friends and family that keeps us coming back each year,” said DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp. “I hope those that weren’t able to get a deer during the season opener will get back out there and enjoy the rest of the days of the season.”
“I am particularly excited by the numbers of new hunters and female hunters that we are seeing in the field this year. From the pictures and stories that are being shared, there has been quite a bit of hunting success amongst this new generation of hunters,” said Sec. Stepp. “There’s nothing like a good first hunt to get a hunter excited for future hunts. I speak from first-hand experience on that.
“This was my second year as a deer hunter, and the thrill was even greater. I am proud to have a deer represented in this year’s preliminary tally along with hundreds of thousands of others.”
Opening weekend numbers up statewide
A breakdown of the harvest by DNR Region and county [PDF] is available in portable document format on the DNR website.
“We want to remind folks that these preliminary numbers come from a staff call-around to deer registration stations this morning,” said Tom Hauge, director of the DNR wildlife management program. “The final opening weekend tally will likely be somewhat larger, when all the registration stubs are entered into the data base over the next couple of months.”
Weather is one of many factors that can influence harvest rates on opening weekend. The state saw a mix of conditions including fog in many central counties that hung on for several hours until it was burned off with the rising sun, and temperatures climbing into the 40s and 50s by mid-morning. Most other areas had excellent conditions, but statewide hunters missed the snow that they like. “Though a light dusting of snow would have provided ideal conditions for hunting, warm and dry weather does tend to allow people to stay out in the field or the tree stand longer,” said Hauge.
Overall, the statewide harvest is up over 19 percent from 2011, and registration increased in all regions. The warm weather likely had some hunters registering their deer right away instead of leaving them hang at camp, which likely bumped up the numbers. “Generally, we see about 60 percent of the overall harvest in the first weekend, but we hold drawing of conclusions until the season is complete,” Hauge said.
Preliminary harvest numbers are up in all regions and bucks are up statewide by 24 percent over 2011. Though the harvest is up in all regions, there are areas of the state, primarily in the northern counties, where hunters are reporting low deer sightings, according to Hauge.
“This is Wisconsin’s 161th modern era deer gun season. It is a fall, family tradition cherished by over 600,000 hunters. These preliminary numbers are just a small part of the event we know as ‘opening weekend.’ I suspect for every deer reported there are 10 great deer camp stories out there. It appears that this season is well on its way to creating life long memories and more importantly, starting traditions for thousands of new hunters,” added Hauge.