The number of deer hunters in Iowa and other states continues to decline, especially among younger hunters, Department of Natural Resources officials and others say.

Wisconsin’s nine-day gun-deer hunting season saw a 6.9 percent increase in the number of deer registered this year compared to 2017.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced preliminary registration totals showing 211,430 deer were registered in 2018, up from 197,733 in 2017. The 2018 season ran from Nov. 17-25.

“We had just about ideal hunting conditions through most of the season, and many hunters reported significant rutting activity,” DNR Secretary Dan Meyer said. “Considering those factors, it isn’t surprising that we are hearing good reports from hunters from all corners of the state.”

Hunters harvested 104,388 bucks, a 5.4 percent increase from 99,002 in 2017. And this year’s total of 107,042 antlerless deer was an 8.4 percent increase from 98,731 in 2017.

For the nine-day gun-deer hunt, the 2018 regional harvest breakdown by Deer Management Zone is as follows (note: these are not exact comparisons to 2017, since zone boundary changes were implemented in 2018):

• Northern Forest Zone: 26,357 antlered (0.6 percent decrease) and 16,160 antlerless (5 percent increase).

• Central Forest Zone: 4,461 antlered (10 percent decrease) and 2,576 antlerless (7.4 percent decrease).

• Central Farmland Zone: 51,093 antlered (5.1 percent increase) and 63,195 antlerless (7.4 percent increase).

• Southern Farmland Zone: 22,477 antlered (18.9 percent increase) and 25,111 antlerless (15.6 percent increase).

Marathon County had the most deer registered (7,642).

Wisconsin’s 2018 nine-day gun-deer season was one of the safest on record, with the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reporting three “relatively minor firearm-related incidents” in Columbia, Dunn and Sauk counties. There were no fatalities.

“In Wisconsin, seven of the past 10 nine-day gun-deer hunts finished without a firearm hunting fatality — and three non-fatal firearm incidents in 2018 is the lowest in history for this hunt,” DNR Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller said. “Even so, one incident is one too many. Always remember safety first when you are in the field.”

A total of 576,277 gun-deer licenses were sold through the end of the nine-day 2018 season, a 2 percent drop from 2017 totals.