Deer totals down in opening weekend of gun-deer hunt

WISCONSIN (WBAY) - Hunters harvested 102,903 deer in the opening weekend of the 2017 gun-deer hunt, according to preliminary numbers released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

That's down from 116,615 taken during 2016's opening weekend. The difference is 13,712 deer.

The numbers show hunters harvested 59,142 antlered deer and 43,761 antlerless deer during 2017's opening weekend.

In 2016, hunters took 64,828 antlered deer and 51,787 antlerless deer during opening weekend.

Much of Northeast Wisconsin is in the Central Farmland Zone. Hunters in this area harvested 55,627 deer during opening weekend. That's down from 65,138 in 2016.

Click here to view the updated numbers on the DNR's website.

Deer harvest data points to the impact of Mother Nature in the form of rain and wind.

"The overall picture paints a pretty clear connection to what the radar looked like Saturday morning, basically from here, if you drew a line across Highway 10, the further north you went the better things got and the further south you went the worse they got as far as hunter success," says Jeff Pritzl, DNR Regional Wildlife Biologist.

Pritzl credits better weather conditions and more antlerless tags for the deer harvest increase in northern Wisconsin, while poor weather and a lot of standing corn kept more hunters from bagging a deer on opening weekend in southern Wisconsin compared to last year.

As for Northeast Wisconsin, which is mostly in the Central Farmland Zone with higher deer populations, Pritzl says the opening weekend harvest saw fewer antlerless deer taken than expected.

"The buck harvest in Shawano, Kewaunee, Door, Manitowoc, those counties we've been talking about went up, which wasn't a surprise, but the antlerless registration is not up for the weekend and that's a concern because those are counties of attention we know we need to increase the antlerless harvest," Pritzl tells Action 2 News.

With more than half the season to go, Pritzl reminds hunters to be safe and enjoy their time in the woods.

"There's still the opportunity out there to have a great memory and when it comes down to it, that's what we're pursuing, it's venison and it's memories, and some of those memories don't have anything to do with getting a deer," Pritzl says.

Wisconsin's gun-deer hunt runs for nine days.

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