Near-final deer numbers up 5% state-wide; record buck bow harvest
With data entry near complete, hunter-supplied numbers indicate that 366,747 deer were harvested in Wisconsin for the 2012 seasons, a five percent increase from 2011, according to Department of Natural Resources officials. This tally will again rank the state in the top five deer hunting states in the country for total harvest and continues the trend of increased deer harvest for the third consecutive year.
“Good hunting conditions throughout the fall, high numbers of both hunters and deer, and an early gun opener all added up to a lot of hunter success,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. “Like any year, we heard from hunters who had a great season and others who were disappointed, but overall harvest trends have been on the rise.”
Of the grand total, 245,539 deer were harvested during the traditional nine-day November gun season and another 93,452 during the archery season. Of the archery season total, 45,775 were bucks, making it the new record buck archery harvest of all time for Wisconsin.
“It was a great year for buck harvest, especially in the farmland areas,” Wallenfang said. “Wisconsin has always been known as a great producer of trophy bucks, but this year has likely secured Wisconsin’s standing in the record books. It will be a lot of fun to attend the deer hunting shows this spring to see just what was taken.”
All other combined gun seasons added an additional 27,756 deer to the total harvest. Harvest numbers are still preliminary while the archery season continues in metro units, and are in the process of being reviewed by field biologist.
Also being reviewed is feedback DNR received from hunters at deer registration stations and from the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey.
“Reports we have received from several areas of the state have shown increasing trends in deer sightings during both the archery and firearm seasons compared with last year and the past several years,” said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys and database manager.
“We will be using harvest data along with survey responses to gauge hunter participation, effort, impressions of deer numbers and satisfaction,” said Dhuey. “This, combined with statewide public meetings this spring on herd status, will allow the public to participate in the deer management process.”
For more information on the preliminary deer harvest by season and deer management unit, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search for “deer harvest”.