MADISON — Wisconsin hunters bagged more than 50,000 fewer whitetails during the nine-day gun deer hunt that ended Sunday.
Overall, preliminary figures show that 160,769 deer were registered during the 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.
Jefferson County hunters harvested 1,425 deer, including 601 antlered/bucks and 823 nonantlered/does. Walworth County’s 628 deer killed included 320 antlered and 308 antlerless deer, while Dodge County hunters bagged 977 antlered and 1,232 antlerless deer for a total 2,209.
While opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with some snow in the north, hunting conditions deteriorated throughout the remainder of the season as heavy wind, snow and rain moved through the state. The largest declines in antlered harvest occurred in the northern forest zone, where blizzard-like conditions and significant snow accumulation hindered hunter access.
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.
Standing corn proved to be an additional factor that likely influenced success in the field. At the conclusion of the nine-day harvest was 66-percent 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 2007-08 seasons, there were similar declines in year-to-year registration totals.
Meanwhile, in 2019, 564,664 gun deer licenses were sold , compared to 576,277 in 2018. This is a 2.02-percent 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 1.4-percent decrease. Of the licenses sold to date, 54 percent were sold in person through transactions at DNR license agents.
, including through DNR offices and agents. The remaining 46 percent of licenses were purchased online.
Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons.