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“Quiet and slow” start to the 9-day gun deer season in Wisconsin

Michele P Woodford
Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin DNR Deer Program Specialist Jeff Pritzl had two words to describe the gun deer season opening weekend.

“Quiet and slow to a certain degree,” said Pritzl.

Hunters registered roughly 92,000 deer statewide during opening weekend. That’s down about 16% from last year.

Pritzl says harvest in the Northern Forest Zone was down about 25% compared to harvest numbers during opening weekend last year.

He says that wasn’t entirely unexpected given how the archery season has gone so far, the extreme snowfall last winter, and the less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Acorns could also be playing a role. It was a mast year for acorn production across the Northwoods.

“My own experience up in the northern forest opening weekend certainly did see acorns on the ground yet. We saw that playing out throughout the month of October with the archery harvest,” said Pritzl. “There’s some past data that suggest years of bumper acorn crops actually can suppress hunter harvests because food availability just means deer aren't on the move as much as they would be. Although, we're kind of regionally getting to the end of acorn availability.”

The number of hunters in the woods likely wasn’t a factor on opening weekend harvest numbers.

License sales for all deer licenses are down less than 1% from the same time last year.

The number of deer harvested during opening weekend usually accounts for half of all the deer harvested during the 9-day gun deer season.

Though, with colder temperatures in the forecast after today, hunters may see more success in the latter half of the week.

Hunting incidents

A woman was shot in the abdomen by a deer hunter while walking her dog Sunday morning.

It happened in Adams County in Big Flatts Township.

The Wisconsin DNR says a 62-year-old man shot at the dog from his car on private property.

DNR Lt. Mike Weber says the hunter told wardens he believed the dog was an antlerless deer.

“In this in this circumstance, the person was a disabled hunter. Obviously, in Wisconsin, we have many opportunities for disabled hunters which allows them to hunt from a vehicle. But as far as the charges go, again, the investigation is ongoing,” said Weber.

The 47-year-old woman was taken to the hospital via Med Flight for her injuries.

Injuries during the gun-deer season usually happen to the hunter or someone in their hunting party.

“When those incidents occur, to be a non-member of the party that is in a fairly uncommon occurrence,” said Weber. “There’s been a severe reduction in hunting incidents overall since the inception of the hunter education program in 1967. I mean, since that time, the rate of hunting incidents has decreased by approximately 95%.”

Weber does encourage anyone spending time in the woods to wear high visibility clothing.

The only other gun-incident during the opening weekend was a hunter who accidentally shot himself in the foot while hunting in Forest County.

There were six gun-incidents during opening weekend in 2022.

The gun deer season ends Sunday evening.

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