Frigid temperatures and high winds are being blamed for a slow start to this year's gun deer season.
Just over 110,000 deer were shot and registered during the opening weekend to this year's nine-day gun deer hunt. That's down about 18 percent compared to the same period last year. Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang says that's understandable. "Considering the weather we had over the weekend, with the extreme cold and the winds, you know, a lot of folks came out of the woods early," he said. "So, we're not at all surprised that the harvest is down."
Wallenfang says there are many factors that play into the deer season for the state, but so far the weather is playing a leading role. "We talk about a lot of things before the season happens, you know: what stage of the rut we're in or how is standing corn out there. All those little things are going to impact the hunt, but when you've got extreme cold it really doesn't matter what else is going on out there."
The DNR has sold nearly 616,000 deer hunting licenses this year, up slightly over 2012. Wallenfang says while opening weekend usually accounts for 40 percent of the season's total deer harvest, there's plenty of time for hunters to fill their tags. "All you can really do is wait until the end of the season," he said. "It looks like the forecast is looking a little better for the rest of the week -- at least a little bit warmer. So, hopefully that'll get people back out into the woods."
Of the total deer registered on opening weekend, about 40 percent of came from the west central region and the fewest came from southern Wisconsin.