MADISON ó Hunters killed far
fewer deer during opening weekend of Wisconsinís
traditional nine-day gun season than last year after the
seasonís unusually late start kept them from taking to
the woods during the rut, state wildlife officials said
The herd appears to as
robust as ever. The Department of Natural Resources has
estimated nearly 2 million deer are roaming the landscape.
For the first time in a decade the department allowed
hunters this season to kill does in every county, a
telltale sign that the herd is strong and thereís no
need to protect female deer and preserve their
But hunters managed to kill
only 90,286 deer on Saturday and Sunday, according to
preliminary DNR data. Thatís down nearly 27% from
123,090 deer killed during opening weekend last year.
Hunters felled 46,866 bucks, down 30% from 2018.
As of midnight Sunday the
DNR had sold 555,227 licenses that allow someone to kill a
deer with a gun during the stateís multiple fall hunting
seasons. Thatís down 1.5% from opening weekend 2018 ó
as of midnight of that Sunday the department had sold
564,052 licenses ó but itís impossible to tell how may
hunters ventured out, or how much time they spent in the
DNR big game ecologist
Kevin Wallenfang attributed the dip in harvest totals on
the lateness of the season.
season always begins on the Saturday preceding
Thanksgiving. Last year the season began on the earliest
date possible, Nov. 17, during the height of the rut, when
deer are moving as bucks look to mate with does.
This year Thanksgiving
falls on Nov. 28, which meant the season had to begin on
Nov. 23, the latest possible date. The rut has all but
ended, meaning deer are bedding down and not moving as
much as earlier in the month.
DNR officials said
forecasts call for cold temperatures and snow in many
parts of the state as the week goes on, giving hunters
more opportunities before the nine-day season ends Sunday.
Jeff Schinkten, president
of Whitetails Unlimited, a national deer conservation
group based in Sturgeon Bay said he went out hunting
Saturday and Sunday in Door County with his 11-year-old
grandson. The boy shot a buck on Sunday but neither of
them saw anything on Saturday.
The poor harvest totals
were to be expected given that the rut is over, Schinkten
said. Such scenarios are part of linking the season start
to Thanksgiving, he said.
ďWisconsin is pretty
strong on tradition,Ē he said. ďAnytime you mention
(changing it) itís met with such resistance. Thereís
still plenty of deer. I can still tell you getting in the
tree stand with my grandson sure beats working. If
everyone can shoot a 10-pointer every time they go out,