|12/1/2012 7:30:00 AM|
Deer registrations down in Oneida, Vilas, Lincoln counties
Numbers show increase statewide
As the regular nine-day deer season closed, DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang said reports from the field were mixed.
"We're hearing all over the spectrum - we're hearing from people that are saying they're seeing more deer than they have in a long time and we're hearing from people that say there are no deer where they hunt," he said.
Wallenfang did note a variety of weather, which can have an effect on both the hunter and the hunted.
"It sounded like middle of the week, we still had issues with some fog out there ... they got 18 inches of snow up by the Brule - the far northwest - at least in spots, which apparently drove some people out of the woods and made the deer not move at all," he said.
Wallenfang added that the later season snow mostly seemed to help those that were still hunting in areas of the Northwoods.
"We were picking up some quotes of people saying, 'Yeah the warm weather is nice, but the deer just aren't moving for us. We know that they're there, we've got them on trail cameras, and all that kind of stuff, but we're just not seeing the deer ... they're not moving,'" he said.
"It sounded like, later in the week, that changed a little bit."
The season started well, but weather can also play a role in when hunters register deer.
"The opening weekend it sounded like we were off to a pretty fast start ... the warm weather out there, I'm sure that had some people registering some deer earlier than they normally might, so that they can get them [processed]."
Wallenfang didn't believe weather was the only factor bumping those numbers up.
"After the opening weekend, the overall state harvest was up over 20 percent and just about every county in the state had an increased buck kill from last year," he said.
"With the harvest up 24 percent it's hard to imagine that all of that would have been a factor of warm weather. Some of that certainly had to have been a factor of a few more deer out there in some spots this year."
Wallenfang said those places collecting data had good results.
"Our CWD sampling and age data collection at the registration stations - all of the preseason numbers, the objectives were pretty much met, so they had plenty of deer being registered," he said.
DNR preliminary numbers
For the nine-day regular gun season, preliminary deer harvest numbers show that 633,460 licensed hunters registered 243,739 deer.
The DNR collects harvest numbers through a survey of more than 600 deer registration stations, and says they will likely increase when all tags are officially counted.
The 2012 preliminary totals show an increase 7.7 percent from 2011. The tally showed hunters harvested 114,822 bucks and 128,917 antlerless deer.
Preliminary 2011 figures showed a harvest of 102,837 bucks and 123,423 antlerless deer. Buck harvest increased by 12 percent and antlerless harvest by 4 percent.
Locally, hunters registered fewer deer than in 2011. Antlerless harvests made the steepest drops, with fewer doe tags available in all area units, including some that were bucks-only.
Oneida County saw a decrease in the buck harvest of 6 percent. Hunters tagged 1,632 bucks, down from 1,736 a year ago. The antlerless harvest of 1,054 was a decrease of 45 percent from 1,912 antlerless deer a year ago. Overall, Oneida County hunters registered 2,686 deer, down from 3,648 in 2011, a drop of 26 percent.
Vilas County hunters registered 1,249 bucks and 241 antlerless deer. In 2011, the numbers were 1,215 and 686, respectively. The buck harvest was up 3 percent, while the antlerless harvest fell 65 percent from a year ago. Overall, the deer harvest was down 22 percent in Vilas County, with total registrations of 1,490 compared to 1,901 a year ago.
Lincoln County registrations decreased slightly from 2011, with 3,443 total deer compared to 3,478 a year ago. This year, 1,655 bucks and 1,788 antlerless deer were registered, while 1,623 bucks and 1,855 antlerless deer were registered in 2011 - an overall decrease of 1 percent.
In Langlade County, the buck harvest was down 4 percent when compared to 2011, but antlerless harvest grew 25 percent. Hunters took 1,569 bucks and 1,622 antlerless deer. In 2011, 1,630 bucks and 1,297 antlerless deer were registered in Langlade County. Total harvest grew 9 percent from a year ago.
The DNR reports that of the total number of licenses purchased this year, nearly 29,000 were first-time buyers. Female hunters represented 33 percent of this total, and another 33 percent were youth, ages 17 and under. Eighty first-time buyers were 80 or older.
Seven shooting incidents
There were seven shooting incidents and one fatality during the 2012 gun season. A 22-year-old Milwaukee man died when he was shot while on land open to public hunting at Fort McCoy.
According to the DNR, total reported incidents for 2012 are below the 10-year average, which is nine.
The DNR says more than 25,000 students complete the hunter's safety program every year. Before the hunter education course started, hunter fatalities during the gun deer season commonly ran into double digits.
There are additional chances to hunt deer after the close of the nine-day regular season. The muzzleloader season is open through Dec. 5 and late archery season continues until Jan. 6, 2013. There is a statewide antlerless hunt Dec. 6-9.
There is also a special hunt in CWD zones in south central Wisconsin from Dec. 24-Jan. 6.
Hunters are reminded to follow the four rules of firearm safety (TABK):
Treat any firearm as if it is loaded.
Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
Be certain of your target and what's beyond.
Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
Go to dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "deer" for more information on season dates and regulations.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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