Opening Weekend Indicates Lower Deer Harvest from Previous Year

Another gun deer hunting season is in the history books. Hunters heading out early morning opening day of deer season experienced excellent hunting weather conditions with abundant sunshine, cool temperatures and light winds. Sunday morning started off fairly mild with a light wind, however, by late morning wind speeds increased with sleet and snow falling in some areas. With afternoon wind gusts over 30 mph hunting efforts slightly decreased.

Preliminary figures indicated that the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin decreased com pared to 2020. As of midnight, 2021 the total of gun licensed privileges only, including gun, patron, and sports license sales totaled 551,809. The year to date sales for all deer licenses were down 1.5 percent compared to the same time last year. However, there was a substantial increase in the number of non-resident licenses.

In total, 85,860 deer were harvested by gun and registered state wide during the opening weekend of the 2021 nine day gun deer hunt, compared to a total of 99,832 registered for the same period in 2020. A total of 47,529 bucks were registered on opening weekend compared to 51,241 in 2020.

As of Wednesday afternoon, November 24, the DNR reported Chippewa County as having a harvest of 1,666 deer; 872 antlered and 794 antlerless. Neighboring Clark County had a harvest of 2,617 deer; 1,273 antlered and 1,344 antlerless. Taylor County had recorded a harvest of 1,384 deer; 769 antlered and 615 antlerless. Eau Claire County had recorded a harvest of 959 deer; 510 antlered and 449 antlerless.

Since September 2017, hunters have no longer been required to validate or physically tag a harvested deer. However, hunters must carry proof of their harvest authorizations (formerly called tags).

Serving as a member of the Chippewa County Deer Advisory Council for the past seven years, I have often been questioned by a number of people about the accuracy of the current deer registration system. Many feel the system leaves too much room for dishonesty and a number of deer are not getting registered. Personally, I've asked the same question and have on occasion asked DNR wild life biologists and supervisors if they take into consideration a fudge factor for non-registrations when determining deer populations. According to DNR staff, hunter compliance with electronic registration is assessed annually using several methods including conservation warden field checks and hunter surveys. Results showed that approximately 90-94 percent of deer hunters register their deer as required during the past few seasons. This level of compliance is believed to be similar to compliance rates when registering was held in person.

More than 1.5 million deer have been registered electronically by phone or on-line since 2015. Currently, 97 percent of hunters registered their deer with no assistance during the open weekend of the gun deer season. The remaining 3 percent are assisted by a customer service agent. All deer harvested during any deer season must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after harvest.

Keep in mind, there is still time to get out and enjoy the deer hunt. Muzzleloader season runs from November 29 to December 8 and the four day antlerless hunt runs from December 9-12 throughout the Central Farmland Zone.

Back out of sight until next year.

December 1, 2021