As Wisconsin hunters put another gun deer season in the books, preliminary license sale, harvest registration and hunting incident numbers are now available.
Wisconsin's hunting legacy runs deep, and hunters are encouraged to share their stories from this year's deer hunt - the funny ones, the big buck stories and the stories of the ones that got away.
Preliminary License Sales Totals
In 2019, 564,664 gun deer licenses were sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, compared to 576,277 in 2018. This is a 2.02% decrease.
In total, 792,548 gun, archery and crossbow licenses (not including upgrades) have been sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, compared to 803,772 in 2018, a 1.40% decrease. Of the licenses sold to date, 54% were sold in person through transactions at DNR license agents, including through DNR offices and agents. The remaining 46% of licenses were purchased online. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons.
Preliminary Registration Totals
Overall, preliminary figures show that 160,769 deer were registered during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 213,972 in 2018. Of the deer harvested in the 2019 nine-day season, 75,236 were antlered compared to 105,315 in 2018. The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 85,533 antlerless deer, a decrease from 108,657 in 2018.
While opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with some snow in the north, hunting conditions deteriorated throughout the remainder of the season as heavy wind, snow and rain moved through the state. The largest declines in antlered harvest occurred in the northern forest zone, where blizzard-like conditions and significant snow accumulation hindered hunter access.
Reports from hunters around Wisconsin indicated low daytime deer activity throughout the gun deer season. Hunters afield within even a few miles of each other reported varying levels of deer sightings, confirming that deer are not evenly distributed on the landscape.
Standing corn proved to be an additional factor that likely influenced success in the field. At the conclusion of the nine-day, harvest was 66% complete, 22 days behind the 2018 harvest.
Wisconsin held the earliest possible deer season in 2018 followed this year by the latest possible season opener. When this occurred between the 2012-13 and 2007-07 seasons, there were similar declines in year-to-year registration totals.
Harvest numbers will climb as hunters enjoy additional hunting opportunities:
Dec. 2-11 - statewide muzzleloader hunt;
Dec. 12-15 - statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt;
Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2020 - nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties;
Now - Jan. 5, 2020 - remaining archery and crossbow seasons; and
Jan. 5-31, 2020 - extended archery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties.
Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless harvest authorization during any of these hunts, but they must be used in the zone, county and land type designated on the harvest authorization. For more information regarding hunts offered in each county, check out the interactive deer map at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "DMU."
There were four firearm involved injuries and no fatalities during the nine-day gun deer season.
Wisconsin's 10-year average for hunting incidents during the nine-day gun deer season is 6.8.