Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer hunt sees slight increase in statewide buck harvest

MADISON – Another Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season is in the books, and preliminary registration numbers show a slight increase in statewide buck harvest. Similar to 2016, northern counties again showed the most significant increases in both buck and antlerless harvest.
“No matter how you look at it – whether from a social or economic standpoint – deer hunting is huge for Wisconsin,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer. “Nearly 600,000 hunters headed into the woods for the nine-day hunt, and there are additional opportunities to harvest a deer through January so our hunters can continue to enjoy this tradition.”
Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season continued to show hunting as a safe recreational activity, as the season ended with seven hunting incidents and no hunting-related fatalities. None of these incidents involved mentored youth hunters.
Preliminary Registration Totals
Preliminary registration figures indicate a total of 98,364 hunters were successful in their pursuit of an antlered deer during the nine-day season. Overall, preliminary registration figures show that 195,738 deer were harvested during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 197,262 in 2016.
For the second straight year, the largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (12.7 percent increase from 2016) after three consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags.
“Except for opening day in some areas, we had pretty good hunting conditions throughout the season,” said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. “Some magnificent bucks were taken, it was a safe hunt, and overall most hunters that I have talked to were pleased to see more deer than in recent years, especially in the northern forest counties.”
“Combined with the early archery and crossbow seasons, total buck harvest is ahead of 2016, and there’s a lot of deer hunting yet to occur this year. When all deer hunting seasons are complete in January, we will look at the total harvest and start making plans for 2018.”
The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 97,374 antlerless deer, down roughly two percent from 2016. However, those numbers will climb as hunters enjoy the statewide muzzleloader hunt, statewide four-day antlerless only hunt and nine-day antlerless only Holiday Hunt in select farmland counties. Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless tag during each of these hunts, but those tags must be used in the Zone, county, and land type designated on the tag.
For the nine-day gun deer hunt, the 2017 regional harvest breakdown by region (with percent change from 2016) included:
Northern Forest Zone: 26,437 (12.7 percent increase) antlered and 15,220 (70 percent increase) antlerless;
Central Forest Zone: 4,914 (3.2 percent decrease) antlered and 2,738 (7.5 percent decrease) antlerless;
Central Farmland Zone: 48,324 (1.2 percent decrease) antlered and 58,126 (7.4 percent decrease) antlerless;
Southern Farmland Zone: 18,689 (9.3 percent decrease) antlered and 21,290 (13.4 percent decrease) antlerless; and
Total: 98,364 (.4 percent increase) antlered and 97,374 (1.9 percent decrease) antlerless.
Hunters are reminded of additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin. This year’s muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 6, and the archery season is open through Jan. 7, 2018. A four-day antlerless-only hunt will take place Dec. 7-10, while the holiday hunt will be offered in select counties from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2018. Any legal firearm, crossbow or archery equipment may be used during these hunts.
The gun deer season in metro sub-units will remain open through Dec. 7 while archery and crossbow hunting in these sub-units is open through Jan. 31.

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