The 2016 Wisconsin gun deer season numbers are in, and they show pretty healthy season totals, with total deer harvested close to 200,000.
Even though the final total was down a bit from last year, the 2016 Wisconsin gun deer season still showed some pretty impressive numbers.
Close to 600,000 hunters took to the woods in the state to try to harvest a whitetail deer in the nine-day season.
"The gun deer hunt is one of our more anticipated outdoor traditions, and it's very important to Wisconsin's economy and conservation while providing millions of hours of enjoyment in the field," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "White-tailed deer are one of our greatest natural resources, and it's exciting to see the passion so many people have for hunting and conservation in our state."
598,867 gun deer licenses were sold this year, compared to 612,377 in 2015. Buck harvest numbers were up while antlerless deer numbers were down compared to 2015 totals. 97,892 hunters bagged a buck this year, compared to 92,610 last year. That's an increase of 5,282 or 5.7 percent.
Antlerless deer harvests were down 6,554 from last year, with 98,893 deer harvested this year and 105,447 in 2015. That's a 6.2 percent decrease from last year.
The grand total harvest numbers for 2016 are 196,785, compared to 198,057 in 2015.
The increased buck harvest was a welcome sign that the deer management strategy seems to be working well.
"While many factors influence hunter success, the buck harvest is one of our best indicators of how the population is responding to harvest strategies in the Forest Zones," said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. "The harvest is never uniform just as deer densities aren't uniform, but overall it is encouraging to see the increase in the northern counties, and statewide harvest levels similar to last year."
The 2016 harvest breakdown by region (with percent change from 2015) included:
- Northern Forest Zone: 23,445 (30 percent increase) antlered and 8,955 (21 percent increase) antlerless.
- Central Forest Zone: 5,067 (2 percent decrease) antlered and 2,943 (2 percent decrease) antlerless.
- Central Farmland Zone: 48,872 (1.4 percent increase) antlered and 62,612 (8.2 percent decrease) antlerless.
- Southern Farmland Zone: 20,508 (3.4 percent decrease) antlered and 24,383 (-10 percent) antlerless.
- Total: 97,892 (5.7 percent increase) antlered and 98,893 (6.2 percent decrease) antlerless.
- Grand Total: 196,785
The numbers indicate that the largest change in harvest took place in the Northern Forest Zone, where buck harvest numbers jumped 30 percent and the antlerless harvest total rose 21 percent.
There are still additional opportunities to harvest a deer in Wisconsin, as this year's muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 7, and the archery season is open through Jan. 8, 2017. A four-day antlerless-only hunt will also take place Dec. 8-11. A holiday hunt will also be offered in several counties statewide Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2017.
Check the Wisconsin DNR website for regulations and rules concerning these additional hunts.
There were also five non-fatal hunting accidents recorded during the nine-day Wisconsin gun deer season.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.