Deer harvest numbers are up 20 percent statewide this year compared to last after the opening weekend of Wisconsin’s nine day gun deer hunting season. So far, so good -- unless you're a buck.
The weather was so nice, it might have kept hunters in the woods, and out of the Battle Axe Saloon in Iron River. An employee at the saloon said things were a little quieter than usual, “Well, let’s see. I work at two places. This place, I guess the same. Some are seeing them. Some are not.”
But by and large, the first preliminary report is good. Department of Natural Resources Big Game Ecologist Kevin Wallenfang says 135,000 deer were shot the first two days of the season, “It’s really scattered throughout the state. Every region is up. Just about every county’s buck kill is up. So yea, they’re pretty good numbers. Now, we also had some very warm weather this weekend. Whether that made people come in and register their deer earlier rather than let it hang at their deer camp, there’s probably some of that as well.”
Northern District Warden Dave Zebro says his area’s deer kill is up 22 percent from last year, and hunters are shooting good-sized bucks. He says weather figured in both, “The bucks were still rutting, still chasing does so that obviously caused an increased harvest. And our hunters were comfortable and they were all in the woods and they were moving deer.”
More than 614,000 deer hunting licenses were sold by the time the season got underway Saturday. That’s up two percent, and 567,000 licenses were sold to Wisconsin residents, almost 79,000 of those were to under 18-year-olds and 61,000 were over 65.