Operation Deer Watch starts August 1

Whitetail deer on alert in the woods near Minocqua

MANITOWOC COUNTY - It's a sight to see this time of year in many parts of Northeast Wisconsin.  A mother whitetail deer and her young cautiously crossing the road.

And leading into deer hunting, it's a sight the Department of Natural Resources wants people to document through a program called Operation Deer Watch.

At the I-43 One Stop near Maribel, manager Scott Neuberger knows all about the initiative.

"They want me to volunteer and go out and count deer that we see just driving around. Not necessarily going out specifically for it, just count what you see," said Neuberger.

For the next two months, the DNR is asking people to pay attention to deer they see during daylight hours. Wildlife biologists say the harsh winter conditions took a toll on many deer. They say this season's count crucial.

"The fawns are following does and accompanying them. So you can start to see, well how many does have twins, for example. How many does have a single fawn, or how many does don't have a fawn," said Jeff Pritzl, D.N.R. District Wildlife Supervisor.

Pritzl says the 2013 doe-to-fawn ratio dropped 13% statewide from the year before.

People will be asked to keep track of bucks, does, and does with fawns, and various other categories. And for the first time, the totals will be tallied on a county wide basis.

"We'll be looking at that and putting that information, and starting new trends. It give us an idea of is Kewaunee County more productive than Oconto County, or even the neighboring counties," said Pritzl.

Pritzl says the survey is about more than just numbers of deer.

"It's always good to be able to take what can be just anecdotal information and gut feeling and compare it to some actual numbers," he said.

And those participating say they feel part of the process.

"It's interesting, plus on top of it, it gives you a different perspective versus the agency telling you that that's what we see," said Neuberger.

The survey runs through September 30th.

If you want to learn more about Operation Deer Watch, you can click here.