The deer kill for the first weekend of the nine-day gun deer hunting season is down nearly 12 percent from a year ago, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Kris Johansen, DNR district wildlife supervisor, wasn’t concerned Tuesday about the dip from 2016.
“I’m not real surprised, given our opening weekend conditions,” Johansen said, referring to a windy Saturday and lack of snow for most of the state. “But we have a lot of deer hunting season left. I hope hunters get back out there, and I wish them success.”
Eau Claire County in particular was down nearly 35 percent, but Johansen said there is a simple explanation for that. Part of Eau Claire County is zoned as “central forest.” The county’s deer advisory council recommended this year that no antlerless deer be killed in the central forest zones, allowing the population to grow. Thus, the number of deer killed in that area dropped from 152 last year to 14 this year.
“First-time hunters, junior hunters, and disabled hunters can shoot antlerless deer in that zone,” Johansen said, explaining why 14 were killed there.
Johansen covers 19 counties, and he said that the Eau Claire County central forest zone was the only area that didn’t issue antlerless tags.
Of the 12 counties in west-central Wisconsin, nine saw a dip in deer killed, but Chippewa, Barron and Rusk counties saw increases. Johansen wasn’t surprised by those numbers, saying more deer tags were issued in Chippewa, Rusk and Taylor counties this year.
The state is working on a new electronic deer tagging process, and Johansen reminded people to register. He wouldn’t rule out that some deer were killed but not yet reported.
“They are supposed to register them by 5 p.m. the next day,” Johansen said. “I’m sure there are people who are not into this routine and missed the registration deadline.”
While most counties in western Wisconsin saw a dip, Johansen noted the northeast portion of the state had strong numbers reported, and he attributed that to some counties there having up to 4 inches of snow on the ground, making it easier for hunters to see the deer.
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