DNR Sets Deer Season, Takes Aim At More Antlerless Deer

Agency Says Mild Winters Have Been Increasing Deer Population

Toby Talbot/AP Photo

The Natural Resources Board has OK’d a deer hunting season for this fall that includes encouraging Wisconsin hunters to shoot more antlerless deer, typically meaning does and fawns.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says mild winters the last three years have led to a steady increase in the state’s deer population.

The deer season framework passed by the board Wednesday raises the harvest goal for antlerless deer by 8 percent. Scientists say killing more female deer has a direct effect on deer numbers.

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DNR Big-Game Ecologist Kevin Wallenfang said the population growth needs to be limited.

“You know, we’ve got a forestry industry in Wisconsin, we’ve got agriculture, we’ve got all these other things that deer impact, and if you ignore all those things, the problems just get worse,” Wallenfang said. “It’s like a farmer. A farmer knows how to properly graze his property to keep his cattle in the best condition possible. And, in some ways, deer habitat and deer are the same way. So, we manage deer numbers to keep problems to a minimum, yet provide hunting opportunity.”

The DNR has reduced the size of an antlerless quota in Bayfield County, after local officials said the target was excessive.

There will be “buck only” hunting in four northern counties.

The number of deer killed by hunters in Wisconsin last year was nearly 317,000. That was a slight increase over the previous year, but 135,000 less than in 2008.