Another Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season has come and gone, and preliminary registration numbers show an increase in state­wide harvest.

Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season continues to show hunting as a safe recreational activity, as the season ended with three hunting incidents and no hunting-related fatalities, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Overall, preliminary figures show that 211,430 deer were registered during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 197,733 in 2017. Of this year’s total, 104,388 nine-day gun season hunters were successful in their pursuit of an antlered deer.

The nine-day gun deer season started Nov. 17 and ran through Nov. 25.

The largest increase in buck harvest occurred in the Central and Southern Farmland zones, both up about 5% from 2017. Considering the very poor opening weekend hunting conditions in 2017, this increase is not surprising, according to the DNR.

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

The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 107,042 antlerless deer, an overall increase of 8.4% from 2017. 

Those numbers will climb as hunters participate in additional hunting opportunities, including: Nov. 26 to Dec. 5 for the statewide muzzleloader hunt; Dec. 6-9 for the statewide four-day ant­lerless-only hunt; Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2019 for the nine-day antlerless-only Holiday Hunt in select Farmland Zone count­ies; and extended arch­ery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties open through January 2019.

Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless harvest authorization during each of these hunts, but they must be used in the zone, county and land type designated on the harvest authorization. 

For more information regarding which hunts may be offered in each county, check out the interactive deer map at dnr.wi.gov.

For the nine-day gun deer hunt, the 2018 regional harvest breakdown by Deer Management Zone, with percent change from 2017 follows:

— Northern Forest Zone, 26,357, 0.6% decrease, antlered; and 16,160, 5% increase, antlerless;

— Central Forest Zone, 4,461, 10% decrease, ant­lered; and 2,576, 7.4% decrease, antlerless;

— Central Farmland Zone, 51,093, 15.1% increase, antlered; and 63,195, 7.4% increase, antlerless;

— Southern Farmland Zone, 22,477, 18.9% increase, antlered; and 25,111, 15.6% increase, antlerless; and

— Total preliminary harvest registrations, 104,388, 5.4% increase, antlered; and 107,042, 8.4% increase, antlerless.

Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after harvest at gamereg.wi.gov or by calling 1-(844) 426-3734. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline. 

For more information regarding preliminary registration totals, visit dnr.wi.gov.

The GameReg internet registration system and call-in phone option worked well, according to the DNR, while hunters continue to visit walk-in stations that offer these services. 

Positive feedback was received throughout the season as hunters enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of GameReg. Nov. 18, an average of 61.1 registrations were processed per minute. To date, 67% of harvest registrations were completed online and 33% were completed via telephone for the 2018 deer hunting seasons.

The accuracy of deer harvest numbers is directly related to the level of hunter compliance. If a hunter forgot to register their deer, they still have time to use GameReg and help ensure each deer harvest is counted. 



Hunting incidents

The 2018 nine-day gun deer season will go into the books as one of the safest on record in Wisconsin with the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reporting three relatively minor firearm-related incidents in Columbia, Dunn and Sauk counties and no fatalities.

Plenty of hunting opportunities remain and hunters are asked to keep safety their priority by knowing and following the four rules of firearm safety known as TABK:

— Treat every firearm as if it is loaded;

— Always point the muzzle in a safe direction;

— Be certain of your target and what is beyond; and

— Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

Hunting is a safe recreational activity, as seen in the downward trend in the number of firearm-related hunting incidents during the popular nine-day gun-deer season.

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



License sales totals


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

In total, 803,772 gun, archery and crossbow licenses, not including upgrades, have been sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, just more than a 2% drop compared to 2017. 

DNR license agents sold 59% of licenses, while 41% were purchased online. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout remaining deer hunting seasons.



Watching CWD

Hunters are reminded that chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling opportunities are available throughout remaining deer hunting seasons. To find a sampling location, visit dnr.wi.gov.

The Adopt-a-Kiosk and Adopt-a-Dumpster programs gave hunters additional options to submit their harvested deer for CWD sampling and safely dispose of carcasses.

For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov.