Deer registration numbers up, againWisconsin’s nine-day deer hunt ended Sunday night, and while some hunters returned home empty-handed, deer registration numbers are up for the third straight season.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Wisconsin’s nine-day deer hunt ended Sunday night, and while some hunters returned home empty-handed, deer registration numbers are up for the third straight season.
According to the Department of Natural Resources’ preliminary figures, hunters registered 243,739 deer during the nine-day hunt, a 7.7 percent increase from 2011.
Registration numbers fell slightly in Wisconsin’s far northern units, but DNR wildlife biologist Fred Strand says there’s no need for panic.
“In a number of our units we had fewer antlerless deer permits, so that was planned and expected,” Strand said of the decrease.
The number of deer registered in the northern district dropped one percent from 59,305 in 2011 to 58,813 this year. The downturn is deceptive, Strand said, because the DNR set deer management unit quotas to hold down the antlerless harvest and encourage population growth.
Buck numbers were up for northern counties, with 10 percent more registered this season than last. Hunters registered 30,202 bucks in the northern district this season compared to 27,406 last year.
“I think most people have changed their tone, but we still have a few complaints from hunters who aren’t seeing enough deer,” Strand said.
Washburn and Polk counties, which saw huge declines 2011, rebounded this year with the biggest buck registration gains in the northern district. Polk led with a 30 percent increase, and Washburn had a 24 percent increase in buck registrations.
In Douglas County, hunters registered slightly more deer than last season.
Hunters registered 10 percent more bucks but 8 percent fewer antlerless deer during the nine-day hunt. For the season, Douglas County registered 4,122 deer — 2,148 bucks and 1,974 antlerless deer.
Douglas County hunters got off to a fast start this season with a strong opening weekend. Buck registration was up 40 percent for the opener and antlerless registration increased 36 percent.
Across the northern district as a whole, buck registration was 34 percent higher in this year’s opener than last year’s.
“The season started on the earliest possible date this year,” Strand said. “When the hunt is that early deer are still more active and in the rut.”
The unusually warm weather during the opening weekend also played a role, Strand said. Hunters who may have waited to register their deer when the temperatures are below freezing brought them in earlier this year out of fear the meat would spoil, he said.
The DNR is in the process of compiling final deer harvest information for the 2012 season. The preliminary figures available now report only where each deer was registered, not where it was harvested.
The DNR met its collection goal in the newly-formed chronic wasting disease zone near Shell Lake this season.
The department set a target of collecting 1,000 samples in a 10-mile radius around the CWD zone and had 950 as of Monday.
“Excellent cooperation from the hunters in that effort,” Strand said.
A doe tested positive for CWD west of Shell Lake in Washburn County earlier this year, which prompted the DNR to set up a surveillance zone in a 10-mile radius around the side. State statute also required the DNR to enact a baiting and feeding ban in any county within the radius.
Mike Zeckmeister, DNR northern region program manager, said hunters were well-informed about the CWD sampling. Very few refused to participate, he said. Most were eager to help and appreciative of the DNR’s efforts.
The DNR remains short of its goal to collect 125 samples within a 2-mile radius of the CWD site, but Zeckmeister was hopeful that target would still be reached.