There are probably quite a few people who will have a story to tell about “the one that got away” after the 2019 gun deer season. Another deer season has come and gone and overall it looks like both license sales and registration totals are down.
According to the Wisconsin DNR, in 2019, 564,664 gun deer licenses were sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, compared to 576,277 in 2018. This is a 2.02% decrease.
In total, 792,548 gun, archery and crossbow licenses (not including upgrades) have been sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, compared to 803,772 in 2018, a 1.40% decrease. Of the licenses sold to date, 54% were sold in person through transactions at DNR license agents, including through DNR offices and agents. The remaining 46% of licenses were purchased online. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons.
Overall, preliminary figures show that 160,769 deer were registered during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 213,972 in 2018. Of the deer harvested in the 2019 nine-day season, 75,236 were antlered compared to 105,315 in 2018. The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 85,533 antlerless deer, a decrease from 108,657 in 2018.
Even though opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with a little snow in the north, hunting conditions deteriorated throughout the remainder of the season. Conditions including drastic winds, snow and rain bombarded most of the state. The largest declines in antlered harvest occurred in the northern forest zone, where blizzard-like conditions and significant snow accumulation made it difficult for hunters to access hunting areas.
The Wisconsin DNR said reports from hunters around Wisconsin indicated low daytime deer activity throughout the gun deer season. Hunters afield within even a few miles of each other reported varying levels of deer sightings, confirming that deer are not evenly distributed on the landscape.
The DNR also feels standing corn proved to be an additional factor that likely influenced success in the field. At the conclusion of the nine-day season, harvest was 66% complete, 22 days behind the 2018 harvest.
Wisconsin held the earliest possible deer season in 2018 followed this year by the latest possible season opener. When this occurred between the 2012-13 and 2007-07 seasons, there were similar declines in year-to-year registration totals.
Additional hunting opportunities are available. Dec. 2-11 was the statewide muzzleloader hunt; Dec. 12-15 was the statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt; Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2020 is a nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties;
Presently to Jan. 5, 2020 are the remaining archery and crossbow seasons; and Jan. 5-31, 2020 is the extended archery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties.
Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless harvest authorization during any of these hunts, but they must be used in the zone, county and land type designated on the harvest authorization. For more information regarding hunts offered in each county, check out the interactive deer map at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “DMU.”
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey remains open through remaining seasons.
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.”