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Hunters killed slightly fewer deer during Wisconsin's nine-day gun season this year than last, according to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources data released Tuesday.

The season began Nov. 18 and ran through Sunday. According to the DNR's preliminary totals, hunters killed 195,738 deer. That's less than the 197,262 killed last year and the 198,049 killed the year before, but more than the 192,111 killed in 2014.

Hunters killed 98,364 bucks, which was 0.4 percent fewer than in 2016. The buck kill was down in three of the DNR's four management zones. The northern forest was the only zone to see an increase in bucks killed. Hunters there killed 26,437 antlered deer, which was 12.7 percent more than in 2016 and a sign that the northern herd is growing again after a number of severe winters.

Hunters killed 97,374 antlerless deer statewide, which was down about 2 percent from last year.

Vernon and Crawford counties had some of the biggest drops in harvest numbers compared with the previous year.

Jackson County was the only Coulee Region county where hunters did better. They bagged 44 more deer, an increase of 1.3 percent.

Overall license sales dipped slightly this year. The agency sold 588,387 licenses authorizing hunting with a firearm during the nine-day season, down 1.7 percent from 2016.

Hundreds of young hunters purchased licenses after Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Nov. 13 eliminating the 10-year-old minimum age to participate in a mentored hunt.

The agency sold 1,814 mentored hunt licenses to children nine years old or younger through Sunday. The vast majority — 1,011 licenses — went to nine-year olds. Fifty-two licenses went to children age 5 and under, including 10 licenses to children under a year old.

A four-year-old was the youngest licensee to register a kill. Five-year-olds registered seven deer. It's not certain that the children actually pulled the trigger, however. Harvest data doesn't show who actually pulled the trigger; an older hunter could have killed the deer and registered the animal under the child's license.

Opponents of eliminating the minimum hunting age warned putting guns in the hands of young children would put them and other hunters in danger, but it appears that wasn't an issue. No one was killed during the season, although seven hunters were wounded.

Five of them, all at least 24 years old, shot themselves. A 53-year-old hunter was shot during a drive in Ozaukee County but the age of the shooter was still unknown on Tuesday. Another hunter was shot in Waukesha County but both the hunter and the shooter's ages were unknown. The DNR was still investigating both incidents.

Photos: Wisconsin hunters show off their harvests from the 2017 gun deer season


(4) comments


Most people don't understand hunting. For example, the real hunters are responsible and don’t do stupid things like killing and leaving the meat to rot, shooting at anything that moves, or hunting out of season. Also, respectable hunting clubs will always organize guided hunting trips to educate those people who want to try this sports activity.


I hear some hunters are illegally taking dear because they are no longer required to tag a dear right away.


that's right, no back tag, you can buy a license during gun deer season so many don't buy one unless they first shoot a deer. Then you don't have to take it anywhere to register the deer, just take it home and do it on line. So there is lots of poaching going on, and less revenue for the DNR which is exactly what the repubs want.


Scooter and his Texas deer czar have done nothing but $#ck up the deer herd in Wisconsin through mis-management. By issuing excessive tags, ignoring CWD, not working with the hunters and the conservation congress, the number of deer being seen overall has dropped dramatically. Then in a effort to bolster license sales, he lets babies go hunting. The license sales drop is astonishing when you look at past years totals, a good part of the reason is areas of low deer numbers and hunters get disgusted when no deer are seen. As much as Scooter claims to be a friend of hunting, his policies and lack of policies seem to be the opposite.

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