BRULE, Wis. — The initial year of online and telephone registration of deer went reasonably well for hunters in Wisconsin’s gun deer season, Department of Natural Resources officials say. A few glitches caused some duplication of registrations, which were quickly corrected.
“If you used a smartphone or a computer, it was pretty seamless,” said Greg Kessler, DNR wildlife biologist at Brule. “If you tried to phone it, that’s where we experienced some issues with people taking a long time or somehow duplicating a registration.”
The gun deer season was held Nov. 21-29.
Not all hunters were happy about the change to online and phone registration this year, Kessler said.
“I did get some feedback from the average hunters age 50 and older, who had some issues with the phone system and weren’t real happy about it,” Kessler said.
Changes have been made to improve the system, he said.
“I asked a number of hunters how they felt about it,” said Al Horvath of Superior, chairman of the Douglas County Deer Advisory Committee, a citizen group. “Everyone seemed to figure it out pretty easily. They felt online was better than calling in.”
With the new system, deer hunters could get day-by-day harvest information during the season.
“It was nice to be able to sit at camp and go to a link on the DNR website and see what the harvest was, county by county,” Horvath said. “It’s the way of the future. I think it’s a good system.”
The deer harvest was another matter. It was up only slightly from last year, and most hunters had hoped for a greater improvement.
Horvath said the buck harvest was up 2.17 percent in Douglas County, and 0.56 percent in the forest zone that includes Northwestern Wisconsin.
“A lot of 18-month-old and 2½-year old bucks weren’t on the landscape,” he said.
The harvest has been low because of severe winters in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Last winter was mild. The DNR has been more conservative with antlerless deer permits during the past two years in order to increase the deer population.
“We’re being cautiously optimistic that things will turn around,” Horvath said.
The DNR’s Kessler said the harvest increase in this year’s gun deer season was less than DNR wildlife officials expected, given the mild winter of 2014-15. The state’s deer harvest history has sometimes seen harvest increases of 10 percent in similar conditions, he said.