2019 gun deer harvest drops 25 percent
The deer harvest for the just completed Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season is down 25 percent from last year, the lowest harvest in 39 years.
Statewide, hunters harvested 160,769 deer this year, compared to 213,972 in 2018.
In the Central Farmland zone, which includes much of our viewing area, the drop was 20 percent, with 92,445 deer taken this season.
Opening weekend proved to paint a clear picture of what deer hunters around the state faced this year.
"As is usually the case, the pattern that was set opening weekend carried through the rest of the season and there's no question things were slower this year than they've been in quite awhile. It wasn't unique to any one part of the state reflecting something was going on, it was a statewide phenomenon," says DNR District Wildlife Biologist Jeff Pritzl.
According to Pritzl, two factors played a big role in this year's lower harvest.
1. Record rainfall this year left many areas with standing water and prevented a lot of crops from being harvested.
2. The season opened on the latest possible date, and more removed from the rut when deer are more active.
"I think we always enter the season optimistic that, yeah, there's often a dip when we have this calendar shift but we hope it's not going to be significant this year, it was and then some," says Pritzl.
Pritzl says the lower kill this year is also part of a long-term trend toward more deer being taken outside of the nine-day gun season.
He says the archery and crossbow harvest leading up to gun season was right on par with recent years.
"As is always the case every year, there's tens of thousands of people who had a really exciting, memorable, this is my best deer season ever, but more people are finding themselves this year on the other side of that coin," says Pritzl.