NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY) – While some lucky hunters have already filled their tags, deer season continues for the majority of hunters across the state. The number of deer harvested on the 2016 gun-deer hunt season opener was down from 2015, according to preliminary numbers released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“I don’t think anyone is surprised by that given the conditions that we had,” DNR wildlife biologist Jeff Pritzl said. “Boy, if you could get out of that wind with the snow on the ground it was really nice conditions, but it was hard to get out of that wind.”
Wisconsin hunters harvested 68,756 deer on opening day of 2016.
In 2015, the opening day harvest was 76,223.
That’s a difference of 7,467.
The number of bucks taken on opening day was down by 2,252 from 2015.
2015 opening day buck harvest: 42,421
2016 opening day buck harvest: 40,169
The opening day harvest in Northeast Wisconsin mirrored the rest of the state, down around 10 percent. But in farmland counties— like Waupaca, Shawano, Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Door— where county deer advisory councils have made it known more antlerless deer need to be harvested, hunters responded.
Wisconsin is broken up into four Deer Management Zones. Hunters in the Central Farmland Zone harvested the most deer with 38,273.
“The ratio from antlerless to bucks, that was better this year than it was last year, so that’s a sign hunters are recognizing that the need to take antlerless deer in some of these productive counties, means don’t wait until the end of the season, so I did see a high proportion of antlerless deer opening day taken and in those counties I think that’s a good direction,” Pritzl said.
Hunters have until 5 p.m. on the following day to register a deer. The DNR says they’ll post harvest numbers online through the end of the 9-day season.
In addition to lower harvest numbers, hunters purchased about 17,000 fewer gun licenses on Friday of this year compared to last year.
By 4 p.m. Friday, hunters had purchased 533,502 licenses, down from 550,756 in 2015.
With the forecast showing cooler temperatures here to stay, Pritzl says hunters will have good conditions and plenty of opportunities to put some meat in the freezer.
“We think of the deer hunting as 9 days, but we follow that up with a muzzle loader season and then four days of antlerless only hunting, so we’ve really got three weeks of firearm deer season. So if opening weekend wasn’t yours because of the weather, there’s plenty of opportunity going forward yet.”