Deer Hunt 2016: Hunters kill 196K deer during Wisconsin gun season

Holden Enke hunts Navarino State Wildlife Area, November 19, 2016 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

SHAWANO COUNTY (WLUK) -- Hunters killed nearly 197,000 deer during Wisconsin's traditional nine-day gun season this month, down 0.6 percent from last year's harvest, according to preliminary estimates the Department of Natural Resources released Tuesday.

The data show hunters killed 196,785 deer statewide during the season, down from 198,057 last year. If the data holds, 2016 would go down as the second-lowest harvest for the nine-day season since 2007. The smallest nine-day harvest during that span came in 2014, when hunters took 193,405 deer. The largest harvest was in 2007, when hunters killed 350,027 deer.

Of the 196,785 total deer registered, 97,892 had antlers and 98,893 did not. The antlered deer included a rare eight-point doe shot near Abrams by Wayne Douville Nov. 21.

Marathon County led the state's 72 counties with a total of 7,663 being shot there. Waupaca County was second with a total of 7,328 - including a piebald, or multi-colored, buck shot near New London by Cherie Jacob Nov. 19. In Shawano County, hunters bagged 6,701 deer.

Cold temperatures and a biting wind greeted deer hunters across the region Saturday morning.

"I think opening day did have a negative effect on the total. We say probably a 10 percent drop in the weekend. That probably did carry through over the course of the rest of the season to some degree," said Jeff Pritzl, DNR District Wildlife Supervisor.

Pritzl says the statewide harvest of all deer dropped less than one percent. However, when looking at just antlerless deer, the harvest was down about six percent statewide. But in Northeast Wisconsin, farmland counties saw an increase.

"It appears they came through. We saw increases in antlerless harvest in Shawano, Waupaca, along the Lakeshore, Manitowoc up to Sturgeon Bay. So that was good," he said.

Pritzl says two relatively mild winters, and a bucks only zone in much of the Northwoods, added to a six percent increase in buck harvest statewide.

"The Northern Forest is where things have really changed. We basically took antlerless harvest way back in an effort to allow that herd to grow," he said.

Fewer hunters took to the woods as well, about 2.2 percent.

"License sales were down a small amount, but they had increased a bit in 2015, so we're kind of in that same ball park," said Pritzl.

Pritzl says hunters still have a chance to fill their tags, including a muzzleloader season, and in some areas, a holiday hunt.

The DNR says Deer Hunt 2016 was also one of the safest on record.

The agency issued a news release saying wardens are investigating five non-fatal hunting incidents in Waukesha, Oconto, Ozaukee and Taylor counties.

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