Last year, Wisconsin deer hunters took the smallest harvest during the state's nine-day firearm season in 21 years. This year, they added an additional 5,000 to their total.
According to preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, deer hunters harvested 204,725 deer from Nov. 21-29. This was an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year.
Additionally, the agency reported a six percent increase in the sale of gun licenses during the same period. Of the licenses sold, more than 23,000 were purchased by first-time hunters or hunters who haven't hunted in the last decade.
"We're not reaching record proportions, but people are out there hunting and that's all we can ask," said Jeff Schinkten, president of Whitetails Unlimited.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was able to capture this data so quickly this year because, for the first time, hunters were required to register their deer electronically. Those without internet to access the DNR website were able to register their deer via telephone.
There were two major factors that had an effect on this year's total harvest number. On the one hand, the southern part of the state received snow on opening day, making it easier to spot and track deer. On the other, killing antlerless deer was prohibited in 12 upstate counties.
The agency anticipates the release of final numbers once they finish verifying the preliminary data.
Although firearm season is over, hunters still have the opportunity to harvest deer during the state's 10-day muzzleloader season which runs through Dec. 9.