Wisconsin DNR releases preliminary figures for gun deer season

Local News

(WFRV) – Wisconsin hunters harvested more deer during this year’s gun deer season than in 2019, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Natural Resources.

While Wisconsin’s harvest registration and license sales are up, so are the number of hunting incidents.

Preliminary figures as of midnight on Sunday, Nov. 29, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 820,299. Of that total, 569,203 were for gun privileges, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are up 3.5% from the same time last year.

Female hunters remain the largest growing demographic this year, with the number of female hunters in Wisconsin reaching over 92,300, up 12% from last year.

The DNR says the number of non-resident licenses decreased this year, likely because of COVID-19.

Preliminary registration figures show hunters registered 188,712 deer during the nine-day gun deer hunt, including 85,340 antlered and 103,372 antlerless deer. Since the archery season opened in September, hunters have registered 305,171 deer statewide.

According to the DNR, deer harvest trends since the beginning of the archery season were above last year’s levels. That trend continued through the gun deer season.

Compared to 2019, the total nine-day gun deer harvest was up 15.8% statewide, with buck harvest up 12.2% and antlerless harvest up 19%. All management zones showed harvest increases from 2019. 

Current deer harvest totals have surpassed the total deer harvested in 2019, but harvest trends lag behind 2018, which had the highest total deer harvest since 2013. While many southern farmland zone counties saw double-digit increases in the buck harvest, the harvest was not evenly distributed across the state.

A number of units in the northern forest zone including Ashland, Florence, Forest, Iron, Lincoln, Marinette and Price counties, experienced another year of declining buck harvest during the nine-day gun deer season. However, total buck harvest in those counties appears to be similar compared to 2019 harvest for the same period.

For the nine-day gun deer hunt, the 2020 regional harvest breakdown by deer management zone included:

Preliminary 2019 Nine-Day Season Harvest Totals

More information regarding preliminary registration totals, including county-level numbers, is available here. A 2010-20 comparison of preliminary nine-day gun deer season registration totals is also available online.

The DNR reports nine firearm-involved injuries and one fatality for the entire 2020 nine-day gun deer season, including an alderman from West Bend who accidentally shot and killed himself while exiting a ground blind on Washington Island.

Nine-day Season Hunting Incidents

At the time of this news release, the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reports nine firearm-involved injuries and one fatality for the entire 2020 nine-day gun deer season.

Other incidents include:

  • Washburn County, Bashaw Township: On Nov. 21, 2020 at approximately 11:30 a.m. a 62-year-old male victim was struck in the upper arm and face by a rifle round. A 19-year-old shooter and victim were participating in a deer drive together. The victim was taken by helicopter for medical treatment. 
  • Saint Croix County, Eau Galle Township: On Nov. 21, 2020 at approximately 2:55 p.m. a 14-year-old male victim was struck in the left leg by a shotgun slug. The 27-year-old shooter and the victim were participating in a deer drive together. The victim was taken to a hospital, treated and released.
  • Adams County: On Nov. 22, 2020 at approximately 1:00 p.m. a 40-year-old male shooter/victim was working the action of his pistol when it discharged into his left hand. The victim was treated at a local hospital.
  • La Crosse County, Onalaska Township: On Nov. 24, 2020 at approximately 8:45 a.m. a 62-year-old male victim was walking with a rifle when he slipped and fell on the snow, causing the rifle to discharge. A round entered his right foot. The victim went to a local hospital for treatment. 
  • Richland County, Sylvan Township: On Nov. 24, 2020 at approximately 5:10 p.m. a 68-year-old male victim was sitting in his vehicle when a loaded rifle discharged and the bullet grazed his forehead. The shooter placed the loaded firearm in the vehicle with it pointed at the victim. The victim pushed the muzzle away when it fired.
  • Waushara County, Coloma Township: On Nov. 26 at approximately 4:40 p.m. a 26-year-old female victim was walking on the Ice Age trail when she was struck by a bullet in the thigh. A 51-year-old male shooter was shooting at what he thought was a deer. Victim went to local hospital for treatment.
  • Marathon County, McMillan Marsh Wildlife Area: On Nov. 27 at approximately 9:30 a.m. a 30-year-old male victim was participating in a large deer drive. A 26-year-old male shooter was shooting at a running deer when his bullet struck the victim in the face and shoulder area. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
  • Green County, Exeter Township: On Nov. 28, 2020 at approximately 9:50 a.m. a 15-year-old male victim was participating in a deer drive. A 45-year-old male shooter shot at a running deer and his bullet struck the victim in the leg. The victim went to a hospital in Madison for treatment.

Wisconsin’s 10-year average for hunting incidents during the nine-day gun deer season is 6.8. At this time last year, the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reported four firearm-involved injuries and zero fatalities for the entire 2019 nine-day gun deer season. The DNR reminds all hunters to use the four firearm safety rules as a cornerstone for safe and successful outings:

  • T – Treat every Firearm as if it is loaded
  • A – Always Point the muzzle in a safe direction
  • B – Be certain of your target, what’s before it, and what’s beyond it
  • K – Keep your finger outside your trigger guard until you are ready to shoot

Hunters are reminded that CWD sampling opportunities are available throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons. Find a sampling location here.

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.

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