Cold and snowy conditions greet Wisconsin deer hunters

DNR specialist Jeff Pritzl says farmland is particularly productive in northeast Wisconsin
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 3:28 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:03 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY/AP) - Hunters couldn’t ask for better conditions when Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer season opens Saturday.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that temperatures in the 20s and 30s along with snow-covered ground will allow hunters to sit in one area comfortably if they choose and make deer more visible.

The DNR says what most hunters are hoping to avoid out in the woods is the wind. But good luck with that.

“Maybe a hunter would say, ‘What I don’t want is windy conditions,’ and we’re going to have to deal with that on opening weekend. But that’s part of hunting -- it’s adapting to conditions, maybe changing the strategy a little bit on account of that,” DNR deer program specialist Jeff Pritzl told Action 2 News.

The economic impact of the hunt is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the state. But of course, the goal is harvesting a deer and putting venison in the freezer.

We asked Pritzl about the current deer population.

“It’s pretty safe to say the deer herd is at least as high as it was last year at this point in time, if not a little bit higher,” Pritzl said, “and that’s both in the farm and the forest land. And as it’s been the case for a long time in Northeast Wisconsin, the farmland very productive, our challenge usually is to harvest enough deer as opposed to harvesting too many.”

You can watch our full interview with Pritzl Friday on Action 2 News at 4:30.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials told WPR that they expect to sell about 555,000 licenses this year. The agency sold 564,440 licenses last year. License sales have been slipping about 1.5% annually since 2000.

Dwindling participation has translated to fewer deer killed. Hunters took 182,783 deer during last year’s nine-day season, down about 7% from 2020.

The weather is a mixed blessing for the opening weekend of gun-deer season