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Hunters take 218,144 deer in 9-day Wisconsin season

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- A Wisconsin deer registration station survey shows a preliminary tally of 218,144 deer taken in the nine-day November gun deer season, an 11 percent increase over the 2009 nine-day gun season.

The opener was highlighted by good hunting conditions on opening day and no firearm-related fatalities for only the second time on record.

Statewide, hunters registered 102,006 bucks-a 17 percent increase over 2009-and 116,138 antlerless deer-a nearly 7 percent over 2009. Gun deer license sales totaled 621,094 at the close of the hunt.

The preliminary harvest numbers are expected to change before a final report is published in late winter. It does not include harvest information from the archery, October antlerless gun deer hunt, muzzleloader, December antlerless deer gun hunt or late archery seasons. The preliminary nine-day gun harvest count in 2009 was 196,688.

A table of county-by-county harvest broken down by region, with a comparison to the 2009 preliminary harvest is available online at

"This season included more regular units with a substantial number of buck only units as many units in the northern and central forest regions are close to population goals or are below goals," said Keith Warnke. "Wildlife management and especially deer management is a process of continual adjustment. This season's structure was influenced by deer hunters, population goal changes, last year's deer harvest, and the resulting estimated local deer populations."

The muzzleloader hunt is underway for hunters holding unused gun buck and antlerless deer tags, and will be followed by the statewide antlerless deer hunt Dec. 9 to 12.

The antlerless deer hunt Dec. 9-12 is open only to hunters with a valid antlerless deer tag for the unit in which they are hunting. That means that in many units in northeast Wisconsin, there will be little or no hunting during that four-day season.

There is the Holiday hunt in CWD zones in south central Wisconsin that starts Dec. 24 and lasts until Jan. 9.
In February, DNR biologists will use unit-level harvest numbers to develop overwinter population estimates and will propose season structures for 2011 in March. The Natural Resources Board will approve season structures at their April meeting.

The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is still active until the end of all deer seasons and wildlife managers are asking hunters to keep sending in reports or to send in a report of what they saw during the just completed 9-day gun hunt.

"The observations of over 600,000 hunters spread out all across Wisconsin are invaluable to biologists watching for trends in wildlife populations," said Brian Dhuey, DNR research scientist who compiles most of Wisconsin's wildlife harvest and survey statistics. "The more observations the better in terms of tracking trends in species abundance and distribution."

Following the close of the 2010-11 deer hunting seasons, DNR and UW researchers will shift into high gear with several multi-year deer research efforts.

Volunteers are needed to accompany and assist researchers in obtaining permission to access private property, live-capturing deer, fitting them with radio transmitters and then observing the marked deer for causes of death, fawn production and fawn survival.

This research effort is intended to answer hunter questions regarding the role of predators on deer populations, factors affecting fawn recruitment and hunter harvest rate of bucks. Interested volunteers can find out more information and sign up on the White-tailed Deer Research Projects page of the DNR website.

"What is really exciting is the 11,331 mentored gun deer hunting licenses purchased by 10- and 11-year olds," said Diane Brookbank, chief of DNR's licensing and customer service unit, "an increase of more than 1,400 licenses over 2009. These are the future hunters who will step into the woods in place of the hunting 'retirees' as our population ages." Wardens reported no firearm incidents among these young hunters.

Wisconsin's automated License Issuance System peaked at 330 transactions per minute at 5:30 p.m. on the Friday before gun season. The 621,094 gun licenses sold through the end of the season on Nov 28 was a 3 percent drop from 2009 gun deer sales. Archery license sales stayed with recent trends and increased by 510 licenses compared to the same period in 2009.

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