NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY) - Wisconsin hunters found more success in 2018 than 2017, according to preliminary totals for the nine day gun-deer hunt.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says hunters registered 211,430 deer this season. That's up from 197,733 in 2017. That amounts to a 6.9 percent increase.
Hunters bagged 104,388 bucks, up from 99,002 in 2017. That's a 5.4 percent increase.
Hunters took 107,402 antlerless deer, up from 98,731 in the previous year. That's an 8.4 percent change.
"Kind of a growing recognition that the antlerless harvest is important, I think this year we did see some jumps in places where we wanted to see them," says John Huff, DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor.
Northeast Wisconsin is located in the Central Farmland Zone. Numbers were up overall in the counties that make up the zone.
The DNR said part of the success is attributed to county deer advisory councils setting the harvest goal.
Huff also credited the results to good weather and the calendar.
"Really good timing. The earliest season opener means we get some rut activity going on, a lot of movement of deer in the woods. Locally we didn't have snow on the ground, but we had snow north and we had snow south and we had, out of the nine days, we really only had one poor day," Huff said.
On the downside, it was another year of lagging license sales. So far in 2018, more than 50,000 fewer people have purchased a license to hunt deer with either a gun, bow or crossbow than in 2017.
"Hunting is such an important part of our life and our culture that it's a shame to see it declining," Huff says.
The DNR continues to establish programs aimed at recruiting young hunters and new adults, but hunters are urged to do their part.
"This is to get someone who's in the sport already to become a mentor, to become that gateway, to take a person out and show them what's available and let the sport itself hook the new person," Huff says.
The DNR says the hunt was also the safest on record.