(WFRV) – Wisconsin’s 170th gun deer season kicked off and initial numbers show a decrease in licenses sold as well as deer that were harvested.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released their preliminary deer harvest and license sales totals for the 170th gun deer season.

The numbers are broken down below focusing on license sales, registration totals as well as hunting incidents.


As of midnight on Nov. 21, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses were at 795,039. 551,809 of those were for gun privileges only, which includes gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are down 1.5% from the same time in 2020.

However, the number of non-resident licenses increased in 2021. 60% of all the licenses were sold online.

Final license sales numbers will be available in Jan.

Registration Totals

The DNR says that 85,860 deer were harvested by gun and registered across the state during opening weekend. During the same period in 2020, the total was 99,832. That is a 13,972 decrease compared to 2020.

The number of bucks that were registered on opening weekend also decreased in 2021. In 2020, there were 51,241 bucks registered, compared to 47,529 in 2021.

Most regions reportedly had good hunting weather conditions, but the DNR says by Sunday morning hunting effort likely decreased.

Opening Weekend Hunting Incidents

The DNR reported three opening weekend hunting incidents including one involving a 10-year-old boy. The three incidents were:

  • Nov. 20, – Door County, Brussel Townswhip
    • A 40-year-old man had a self-inflicted gunshot to his hand. He reportedly placed his hand on the muzzle after pulling the hammer back on his firearm. He thought he pulled the trigger and the bullet hit his left pinky.
  • Nov. 21 – Door County, Sturgeon Bay
    • A 45-year-old man was hunting from his residence when he shot at a deer. he tried to unload his gun, when it discharged inside the house and hit a 10-year-old boy.
  • Nov. 21 – Waukesha County, Ottawa Township
    • A 30-year-old man had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his leg. He was in a tree stand when he reportedly tried to hang his gun on a hanger. The gun fired and hit him in the leg.

Wisconsin’s 10-year average is reportedly around six hunting incidents during the nine-day season.

For more information on Wisconsin’s gun deer season, visit the DNR’s website.