Waupaca County had the second-highest harvest total in Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer hunt.According to preliminary numbers from the state Department of Natural Resources, hunters registered 7,605 deer – 3,669 bucks and 3,936 antlerless deer – in the county during this year’s hunt that wrapped up Sunday, Nov. 28.
That’s a 28.4-percent increase from 2009. The buck harvest was up 24.4 percent, while the antlerless harvest was up 32.4 percent.
Numbers were also up in five other local counties as well. Totals included Portage County, 3,516 (2,008 bucks and 1,508 antlerless, up 6.4 percent); Waushara County, 3,178 (1,515 bucks and 1,663 antlerless, up 11.1 percent); Outagamie County, 2,634 (1,271 bucks and 1,363 antlerless, up 32.7 percent); Winnebago County, 1,211 (533 bucks and 678 antlerless, up 33.2 percent); and Shawano County, 4,760 (2,554 bucks and 2,206 antlerless, up 16.6 percent).
Polk County in northwestern Wisconsin led the way with 8,560 registered deer. Barron County was third at 7,105.
A survey of Wisconsin deer registration stations yielded a preliminary tally of 218,144 deer, a 10.9-percent increase over the 2009 season. The opener was highlighted by good opening day hunting conditions and no firearm-related fatalities for only the second time on record.
Statewide, hunters registered 102,006 bucks, a 17-percent increase over 2009, and 116,138 antlerless deer, a nearly 7-percent increase. Gun deer license sales totaled 621,094 at the close of the hunt.
The harvest numbers are preliminary and are expected to change before a final report is published in late winter. It 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 2009 was 196,688.
“This season included more regular units with a substantial number of buck-only (deer management) units, as many units in the northern and central forest regions are close to population goals or are below goals,” DNR big game ecologist Keith Warnke said. “Wildlife management and especially deer management is a process of continual adjustment. This season’s structure was influenced by deer hunters, population goal changes, last year’s deer harvest and the resulting estimated local deer populations.”
Hunters still have opportunities this year.
“There are still days to hunt in 2010,” Warnke said. “The muzzleloader hunt is already under way for hunters holding unused gun buck and antlerless deer tags and there’s the statewide antlerless deer hunt Dec. 9-12.”
The antlerless hunt is open only to hunters with a valid antlerless deer tag for the unit in which they are hunting. That means there will be little or no hunting during that four-day season in many units in northeastern Wisconsin.
A holiday hunt in chronic wasting disease zones in south-central Wisconsin begins Friday, Dec. 24, and lasts until Sunday, Jan. 9.
DNR biologists will use unit-level harvest numbers to develop overwinter population estimates in February and propose season structures for 2011 in March. The state Natural Resources Board will approve season structures at its April meeting.
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is still active until the end of all deer seasons and wildlife managers are asking hunters to keep sending in reports or to send in a report of what they saw during the nine-day hunt.
“The observations of over 600,000 hunters spread out all across Wisconsin are invaluable to biologists watching for trends in wildlife populations,” said Brian Dhuey, the DNR research scientist who compiles most of Wisconsin’s wildlife harvest and survey statistics. “The more observations the better in terms of tracking trends in species abundance and distribution.”
Following the close of the 2010-11 deer hunting seasons, DNR and University of Wisconsin researchers will shift into high gear with several multi-year deer research efforts.
Volunteers are needed to accompany and assist researchers in obtaining permission to access private property, live-capturing deer, fitting them with radio transmitters and observing the marked deer for causes of death, fawn production and fawn survival. This research effort is intended to answer hunter questions regarding the role of predators on deer populations, factors affecting fawn recruitment and hunter harvest rate of bucks. Interested volunteers can find out more information and sign up on the White-tailed Deer Research Projects page of the DNR web site, dnr.wi.gov.
Young hunters proved they are safe and responsible, said Diane Brookbank, head of the DNR’s licensing and customer service unit.
“What is really exciting is the 11,331 mentored gun deer hunting licenses purchased by 10- and 11-year-olds, an increase of more than 1,400 licenses over 2009,” she said. “These are the future hunters who will step into the woods in place of the hunting ‘retirees’ as our population ages.”
Conservation wardens reported no firearm incidents among these young hunters.