DNR lays out expectations ahead of nine-day gun deer hunt

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources expects around 560,000 hunters to take part in the nine-day gun deer season later this month.

DNR officials laid out their expectations for this year’s hunt during a virtual news conference with reporters on Thursday.

Participation, license sales and harvest totals have returned to more normal levels following a spike in participation in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, DNR deer program specialist Jeff Pritzl said.

“What we saw in 2020 was a spike in participation and with it came a bit of a bump in harvest, and then last year there was a bit of a correction factor and I think we saw a drop, especially in the antlerless harvest, in 2021,” he said.

Preliminary data showed hunters killed 175,667 deer last season, down 8% from the 190,646 killed in 2020.

RELATED: DNR: Nine-day gun season deer kill drops 8% from 2020

This year’s season opens Nov. 19, one of the earliest possible opening dates, and runs through Nov. 27. The earlier opening date, Pritzl said, is closer to breeding season, which can benefit hunters.

“That can also positively affect natural deer movement over opening weekend, of course depending on what the weather’s going to be,” he said, “and everyone will be checking the long-term forecast for every day between now and the 19th, hoping for that ideal weather conditions for opening day.”

DNR officials also reminded hunters to be mindful of gun safety to avoid accidental injury or death.

Even non-hunters need to be extra cautious over the next few weeks with hunting season and breeding season prompting deer to move around more. Pritzl said drivers should avoid swerving or braking too hard to avoid hitting deer, warning that could cause them to lose control of their vehicles.