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.
Opening weekend numbers up statewide
A breakdown of the harvest by DNR Region and county is available in portable document format on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov.
These preliminary numbers come from a staff call-around to deer registration stations. 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.
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.
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.
Enthusiasm for hunting remains high
The department’s license sales office reported 614, 435 gun deer licenses sold by midnight, Nov.16, prior to the Saturday start of the season. Deer license and tag sales will continue through the hunting seasons.
Nearly 26,000 new hunters also bought licenses to deer hunt for the first time, or for the first time in 10 years, this year. Females represented 32 percent of resident first time gun deer licenses and 30 percent of residents bought first time junior gun deer licenses.
Deer hunters continued to engage in another standing tradition, buying their license on the way up to deer camp Friday. Between 4 and 5 p.m. Friday, deer license sales peaked at 200 licenses sold every minute. On Friday, a record one-day sale occurred when 105,948 licenses sold before the season opener.
Some facts about Wisconsin hunters:
• 614,435 total deer gun hunter, up two percent from last year
• Resident deer licenses (568,831) are up 1.5 percent
• Nonresident deer licenses (32,554) up 2 percent
• 10/11-year-old mentored gun deer licenses (13,050) are up 10 percent
• 60 percent of gun deer licenses were sold in the month of November
• Females represent 9.5 percent of total gun hunters
• 78,604 (or 13 percent) were youth (under age of 18)
• 61,276 (or 10 percent) were senior citizens (65 years of age and older)
• Hunters come to Wisconsin from all 50 states and several foreign countries
• 25,703 first time buyer licenses were sold
• 13,511 resident gun deer
• 8,976 resident junior gun deer
• 3,216 nonresident gun deer
• 9,001, or 35 percent of First Time Buyers were youth (17 years of age and under)
For more facts about Wisconsin hunters in the field this year, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “deer.” A licensing table and breakdown is regularly updated on this page.
There were three hunting related injuries reported. One incident was self-inflicted and two were two-party incidents. The incidents occurred in Columbia, Manitowoc and Portage County and are still under investigation. Additionally, Fort McCoy authorities are investigating the death of a hunter on the military base.
Though DNR does not track non-firearm related incidents, there have been reports of injuries resulting from falls from tree-stands. About one third of all hunters will take a fall from a tree stand during their hunting careers. The DNR reminds deer hunters who use tree stands to wear a full-body safety harness, use a haul line to raise and lower the unloaded firearm, and carry a cell phone in a secure pocket that’s easily reached in the event of a fall.
Additional safety reminders and tips are available by visiting dnr.wi.gov, search “tree stand safety,” and also view a safe hunting feature.
Historically, about one-third of Wisconsin’s shooting incidents happen during deer drives, usually because someone wasn’t where they were supposed to be or someone shot at a deer when they did not have a safe backstop or in a direction they should not have been shooting.
Hunters are also reminded to always be sure of their target and anything behind it when making a deer drive. If not sure, don’t shoot. Know where the bullet will impact if the shot misses. It is important that hunting parties wanting to drive deer have a plan and that they follow that plan to the letter. Knowing where hunting mates are and where safe shooting lanes are is critical.