MADISON – Nearly 600,000 hunters donned blaze orange attire and headed into the outdoors for opening weekend of the annual nine-day gun deer hunt in Wisconsin.
“We are off to a good start to the nine-day season, but the forecast is calling for some wet weather this week,” said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist. “Harvest is up in many counties, even where some hunters said deer movement was poor. We saw excellent hunting conditions in much of the state over the weekend, so that combined with improved deer population levels following a mild winter and efforts to increase deer numbers, and we are hoping things continue to go well for hunters through the rest of the season.”
As of opening morning, 591,783 gun deer licenses (828,664 gun, archer crossbow combined) had been sold, compared to 589,830 gun deer licenses (816,292 gun, archer crossbow combined) as of opening day in 2014.
For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “deer.”
Preliminary Registration Numbers
As of 5 p.m. Monday, 119,495 deer have been registered using the GameReg system, compared to 103,746 as of the Monday evening following opening weekend in 2014. Hunters must register their deer by 5 p.m. the day after harvest in 2015, as opposed to 5 p.m. the day after the nine-day season closes in years past.
The GameReg internet registration system and call-in phone option are working well overall, and hunters have continued to visit walk-in stations that offer these services. The department is providing extra customer service staff to field calls and help hunters register deer using the new system.
Positive feedback was received throughout opening weekend as hunters learn to use the new system, and many hunters have continued to head into town to show off their deer.
Hunters who forgot to register their deer are required to do so, even if beyond the 5 p.m. daily deadline.
“This information is important to how we manage deer in Wisconsin and registration is still mandatory, so even if you forgot, please register it now,” said Wallenfang.
For more information, search keywords “electronic registration.”
Opening weekend hunting incidents
DNR investigated two non-fatal (Rock and Marathon counties) and one fatal (Columbia County) hunting accident during opening weekend. Through the continued efforts of hunters and hunter education volunteers, Wisconsin remains a safe place to hunt, and hunters are reminded to follow the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety (TAB-K):
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded;
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction;
- Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it; and
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
For more safety tips, search keywords “safety tips.”