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Wisconsin hunters register 329,103 deer in 2009

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Hunters registered 329,103 deer for the 2009 deer hunting seasons. This includes a total antlerless harvest of 191,715 and antlered (buck) harvest of 134,156. The grand total includes 3,232 deer recorded as unknown.

The closely watched total buck harvest for all archery and gun seasons was down 3 percent compared to 2008.

The 2009 archery buck harvest was up 19 percent over 2008 at 41,402 making it the fourth best archery buck harvest in history.

Archers accounted for 31 percent of the total buck harvest in 2009. This was up from the 2008 archery buck harvest which accounted for 25 percent of the total buck kill. Gun buck harvest declined by 11 percent last year from 103,845 in 2008 to 92,754, the 29th highest gun buck total on record.

Antlerless harvest was carefully regulated on a unit-by-unit basis through the bonus permit process. In 2009, 13 deer management units had no antlerless permits available to gun deer hunters in an effort to promote strong deer population growth in those units. Gun bonus permits were limited in many other units that were near established population goals.

In 2008 gun hunters registered 246,607 antlerless deer. In 2009 the number was146,917, a decrease of 99,690 or approximately 40 percent. The greatest changes in antlerless deer harvest occurred in the northern forest where hunters registered 30,431 antlerless deer compared to 56,607 in 2008. This 46 percent reduction in antlerless harvest was due to a reduction in antlerless deer tags available in the northern forest.

The eastern farmland also saw a greatly reduced antlerless harvest with more than 31,000 fewer antlerless deer registered, a 47 percent decrease from 2008. The decrease in the eastern farmland region is largely due to the suspension of Earn-a-Buck hunting requirements.

The statewide post hunt population estimate is 990,000, down slightly from 2009. Regional populations vary widely in Wisconsin and in northeastern Wisconsin deer populations are generally below desired goals. Populations are higher in the rest of the northern and central forest regions and above goals in the eastern, western and southern farmland regions.

Hunters interested in learning more about local populations are encouraged to attend a deer management unit information meeting in their area. Meeting locations and dates are available online at  http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/news/2010_DMU_meetings.html or by calling the DNR Info line at (888) 936-7463.

Winter severity recording stations will continue to report through April and this fall’s antlerless harvest quotas will be finalized after all winter severity data are collected. March is a critical month for northern deer herds. Harsh weather in March can result in greater mortality and lower fawn production as deer can be in a weakened condition at the end of winter.

For more information, contact Keith Warnke, DNR big game ecologist, (608) 264-6023 or Bob Manwell, DNR communications, (608) 264-9248

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