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Deer season draws hunters from across the country spending millions of dollars in Wisconsin


As hunters gear up for the big deer hunt, so do a lot of businesses in the Northwoods.

The Wisconsin DNR estimates hunters for all game spend an estimated $2.6 billion each year. More than half of that is deer hunters.

“Deer season draws folks to Wisconsin’s rural economies where hunters and their families book lodging, shop in those local grocery stores, fuel up at local gas stations and share stories at their local restaurant and bars,” said Eric Lobner, DNR Wildlife Management Program Director.

More than 870,000 people from Wisconsin and across world participate in the state’s deer season. More than half of those are for the 9-day gun deer hunt.

Last year saw more people than ever finding ways to get outdoors, hunting was no exception.

Deer license sales grew 3.5% last year from the year before.

Lobner believes it has to do with a resurgence in the interest in having locally grown protein source.

“That whole mentality is continuing strong today and goes back many generations as a primary driver why people hunted and what brought them to Wisconsin to hunt,” he said.

In 2020, hunters came from all 50 states and 14 countries.

Wisconsin is only behind Texas in the number of people that come from out of state to hunt.

DNR Deer Program Specialist Jeff Pritzl points to Wisconsin’s accessible public lands as one of the reasons why so many come here to hunt.

“We need to appreciate the fact that we are blessed with a lot of publicly accessible land in Wisconsin relative to the population size,” said Pritzl. “That provides opportunity for many people to participate that in some other states in the country that have a limited public land base means that hunting is limited to private property.”

You can learn more about public lands in Wisconsin on the DNR’s website.

The 9-day gun deer season starts this Saturday.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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