The nine-day Wisconsin 2014 Gun Deer Season is now over, but there are still more deer hunting opportunities open plus there is other hunting seasons still open too. The figures I’m giving you are from the opening weekend and the numbers will change significantly as all registration stations continue to send in their harvest numbers to the Wisconsin DNR. Overall, deer harvest numbers are down and the harvest numbers for the upper third of the state are down considerably due mainly to the harsh winter of 2013 and also to a larger number of predators, land owner use patterns, and the continued loss of prime habitat.
Here are some figures for opening weekend from the counties that surround me and a few harvest statistics from around the state. The counties that are relatively close and were down from the 2013 season include; Columbia County had 931 bucks and 808 antlerless deer harvested totaling 1739 deer which was down 2%, Dane County 287 bucks and 302 antlerless which totaled 589 deer and down 22%, Iowa County had 593 bucks and 501 antlerless which totaled 1094 deer and down 30%, Sauk County 1407 bucks and 1242 antlerless which totaled 2649 deer and down 20%, Richland County 850 bucks and 801 antlerless which totaled 1651 deer and down 24%, Rock County 166 bucks and 170 antlerless which totaled 336 deer and down 19%, and Grant County 1164 bucks and 1181 antlerless which totaled 2345 deer and down 24%. So, one can see that the numbers were down significantly in the southern third of the state.
I’ve also included a few other counties from around the state including the northern counties where numbers were down even more for comparison reasons. I’m not going to go into both the buck and antlerless for these counties, just the decreased total numbers. Ashland County down 43%, Bayfield County down 34%, Douglas County down 37%, Forest County down 40%, Iron County down 53%, Price County down 49%, Taylor County down 55%, Vilas county down 40%, and Oneida County down 32%. The farther north that you go in Wisconsin the greater were harvest numbers down from the 2013 Deer Gun season. Another interesting fact is that about two-thirds of the total deer harvest is taken during the opening weekend. The deep snow and cold temperatures affected the northern counties which also were buck only after the winter of 2013. The buck only regulation is to help the total deer herd bounce back after the 2013 season. The lower numbers in the southern counties were mainly due to less than ideal conditions for hunting with fog, rain, and freezing rain on opening weekend.
Statewide the harvest total for opening weekend were 48,920 bucks and 41,355 antlerless deer harvested for the grand total of 90,281 deer. In comparing this season with the 2013 season, the buck harvest was down 9% and antlerless deer were down 27% with the total opening weekend down 18.5% with 110,797 taken last year. The local registration numbers from the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City were down considerably with 575 deer registered for the entire week which is down 20-25%. Weather affected the weather here with fog on Saturday and steady rain on Sunday making it tough for hunters to stay out in the rain on Sunday.
The number of licenses sold by the opening day totaled 589,830 licenses, but now licenses are sold anytime throughout the season. Previously, one had to purchase their license in advance so these numbers should rise. There were 22,000 licenses sold to new hunters and hunters who hadn’t purchased a license in 10 years. The number of female hunters increased to continue a new trend. There were 35% more female licenses sold to first time hunters. The larger number of first time and female hunters are showing that the hunting tradition is being passed on to new and younger hunters. This new participation is good to see!
The DNR call center also received a record number of calls handled. On Friday before the season opened, there were 4,734 calls and from November 1st to Friday there were 33,000 calls.
The good thing to hear was that there were no hunting accidents opening weekend for the second time in the last ten years. Chief Warden Todd Schaller and all the hunting instructors should be proud of this number and all the safety minded hunters.
Deer hunters have more opportunities for harvesting a deer with the muzzleloader season opening today and running thru December 10 with a one buck and an unused antlerless tag valid for use in the specified zone or DMU. There also is Central Farmland deer hunt for antlerless deer from December 11 to the 14th and a Southern Farmland Holiday Hunt from December 24th to January 1st. The bow and crossbow hunt is open is also open till January 4th.
Besides the deer seasons remaining, the duck season is open till December 7th and the Exterior Goose season is open till December 21st. The pheasant season is open through the month of December, the squirrel season is open till January 31st, 2015, and the rabbit season stays open till February 28, 2015.
As one can see, there are numerous hunting seasons open for deer and numerous other species of game animals and birds. Be sure and have a Rules and Regulation pamphlet to check on anything that you are not sure of or have a question about. Dress warm and continue being safe! www.garyengbergoutdoors.com