Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589; Todd Schaller, DNR Law Enforcement, 608-381-8927; Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-282-5334
November 27, 2018
MADISON - Another Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season has come and gone, and preliminary registration numbers show an increase in statewide harvest.
Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer season continues to show hunting as a safe recreational activity, as the season ended with three hunting incidents and no hunting-related fatalities.
Overall, preliminary figures show that 211,430 deer were registered during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 197,733 in 2017. Of this year's total, 104,388 nine-day gun season hunters were successful in their pursuit of an antlered deer.
The largest increase in buck harvest occurred in the Central and Southern Farmland Zones (both up about 5 percent from 2017). Considering the very poor opening weekend hunting conditions in 2017, this increase is not surprising.
"We had just about ideal hunting conditions through most of the season, and many hunters reported significant rutting activity," said DNR Secretary Dan Meyer. "Considering those factors, it isn't surprising that we are hearing good reports from hunters from all corners of the state."
The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 107,042 antlerless deer, an overall increase of 8.4 percent from 2017. Those numbers will climb as hunters enjoy additional hunting opportunities:
Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless harvest authorization during each of these hunts, but they must be used in the zone, county, and land type designated on the harvest authorization. For more information regarding which hunts may be offered in each county, check out the interactive deer map at keyword "DMU."
For the nine-day gun deer hunt, the 2018 regional harvest breakdown by Deer Management Zone (with percent change from 2017) included. Note - it should be taken into consideration that these are not exact comparisons, due to zone boundary changes implemented in 2018):
Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after harvest at gamereg.wi.gov or by calling 1-844-426-3734. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline. For more information regarding preliminary registration totals, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "weekly totals."
The 2018 nine-day gun deer season will go into the books as one of the safest on record in Wisconsin with the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reporting three relatively minor firearm related incidents (Columbia, Dunn and Sauk counties) and no fatalities.
Plenty of hunting opportunities remain, and hunters are asked to keep safety their priority by knowing and following the 4 rules of firearm safety (TABK):
Hunting is a safe recreational activity, as seen in the downward trend in the number of firearm-related hunting incidents during the popular nine-day gun-deer season.
"In Wisconsin, seven of the past 10 nine-day gun deer hunts finished without a firearm hunting fatality and three non-fatal firearm incidents in 2018 is the lowest in history for this hunt," said Todd Schaller, DNR Chief Conservation Warden. "Even so, one incident is one too many - always remember safety first when you are in the field."
In 2018, 576,277 gun deer licenses were sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, a 2 percent drop from 2017 gun deer license totals.
In total, 803,772 gun, archery and crossbow licenses (not including upgrades) have been sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, just over a 2 percent drop compared to 2017. DNR license agents sold 59 percent of licenses, while 41 percent were purchased online. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout remaining deer hunting seasons.
The GameReg internet registration system and call-in phone option worked well, while hunters continue to visit walk-in stations that offer these services. Positive feedback was received throughout the season as hunters enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of GameReg. On Saturday, Nov. 18 an average of 61.1 registrations were processed per minute. To date, 67 percent of harvest registrations were completed online and 33 percent were completed via telephone for the 2018 deer hunting seasons.
The accuracy of deer harvest numbers is directly related to the level of hunter compliance. If a hunter forgot to register their deer, they still have time to use GameReg and help ensure each deer harvest is counted. For more information, search keywords "GameReg."
Hunters are reminded that CWD sampling opportunities are available throughout remaining deer hunting seasons. To find a sampling location near you, search keywords "CWD sampling."
Thanks to generous contributions from numerous partners, the Adopt-a-Kiosk and Adopt-a-Dumpster programs gave hunters additional options to submit their harvested deer for CWD sampling and safely dispose of carcasses.
The cooperation of hunters and private businesses has become increasingly vital to the success of our sampling process - DNR staff would like to thank all those who continue to assist with CWD surveillance.
With over 82,000 downloads since its Fall 2018 launch, the new Hunt Wild Wisconsin mobile application is an extremely a valuable tool for hunters in the field. From mobile public lands mapping and shooting hours to all hunting regulations in on place, this app gives hunters everything they need.
To download this free app, search keywords "hunt app."
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey will remain active until all deer seasons have ended, and wildlife managers ask that hunters submit a report of what they observe during their time in the field. This information provides valuable data to improve population estimates for Wisconsin's deer herd and other species. For additional information, search keywords "deer hunter wildlife."
Hunters of all ages who head out for their first hunt are encouraged to mark the occasion with a first harvest and first hunting experience certificate. To create a certificate, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "first certificates."
While the nine day hunt has ended, hunters are reminded to connect with DNR staff on social media through the department's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. DNR staff look forward to photos from the field each year. Also, be sure to check out Wild Wisconsin - a web and podcast series focused on all things outdoors.
For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."