The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) feels Wisconsin's hunting legacy runs deep and many would certainly agree. As hunters put another gun deer season in the books, preliminary license sale, harvest registration and hunting incident numbers for the 169th nine-day gun have been presented by the WDNR.

Preliminary figures continue to indicate that the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin increased compared to the same period for both 2019 and 2018.

“As of midnight, Sunday, Nov. 29, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 820,299. Of that total, 569,203 were for gun privileges, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are up 3.5% from the same time last year,” said the WDNR.

They said female hunters remain the largest growing demographic in 2020, with the number of female hunters reaching nearly 92,312, up 12% from last year. The number of non-resident licenses decreased this year, likely due to COVID-19.

Of the licenses sold to date, 42% were sold in person through transactions at DNR license agents. The remaining 58% of licenses were purchased online. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons.

Final license sales figures will be available in January, at which time DNR staff will perform a thorough analysis and interpretation.

Preliminary figures show that hunters registered 188,712 deer during the nine-day gun deer hunt, including 85,340 antlered and 103,372 antlerless deer. Since archery season opened Sept. 12, hunters have registered 305,171 deer statewide, showing the growing impact of earlier seasons on cumulative harvest.

Deer harvest trends since the beginning of the archery season were above 2019 levels, and this trend continued through the gun deer season. Compared to 2019, the total nine-day gun deer harvest was up 15.8% statewide, with buck harvest up 12.2% and antlerless harvest up 19%. All management zones showed harvest increases from 2019.

Current deer harvest totals have surpassed the total deer harvested in 2019, but harvest trends lag behind 2018, which had the highest total deer harvest since 2013. While many southern farmland zone counties saw double-digit increases in the buck harvest, the harvest was not evenly distributed across the state.

A number of units in the northern forest zone including Ashland, Florence, Forest, Iron, Lincoln, Marinette and Price counties, experienced another year of declining buck harvest during the nine-day gun deer season. However, total buck harvest in those counties appears to be similar compared to 2019 harvest for the same period.

While opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with some snow in the northwest, DNR staff across the state reported excellent hunting conditions and weather throughout the season except for a day or two of rain and wind midweek.

Harvest numbers will climb as hunters enjoy additional hunting opportunities:

Nov. 30-Dec. 9: Statewide muzzleloader hunt

Dec. 10-13: Statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt;

Dec. 24-Jan. 1, 2021: Nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties;

Now until Jan. 3, 2021: Remaining archery and crossbow seasons

Jan. 4-31, 2021: Extended archery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties.

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

Preliminary 9-day gun season summary by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources show local county totals thus far are as follows:

Barron-1,605 antlered, 2612 antlerless

Chippewa-1,115 antlered, 1,717

Dunn-1,991 antlered, 3,053 antlerless

Eau Claire-742 antlered, 1,058 antlerless

Pepin-549 antlered, 917 antlerless

Pierce-1,010 antlered, 1,574 antlerless

Polk-2,154 antlered, 3,176 antlerless

St. Croix-953 antlered, 1,385 antlerless

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