Opening weekend deer totals up about 2.2% over ‘19 season
Statewide, 95,257 deer were harvested by gun and registered during the opening weekend of the 2020 nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 93,155 in 2019, according to the Wisconsin DNR. A total of 49,025 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 48,252 in 2019.
In Clark County, hunters harvested 2,181 deer, an increase of 8.8 percent over 2019, when 2,004 deer were claimed. That total includes 1,020 bucks (up 10.7 percent) and 1,161 antlerless deer (up 7.2 percent).
Hunters in Marathon County bagged 3,146 whitetail, including 1,621 bucks and 1,525 antlerless. This represents a 2.6 percent increase in the overall harvest, including 4.2 percent more bucks and .9 percent more antlerless.
Leading up to the nine-day season, harvest numbers for the archery and crossbow seasons show hunters are choosing to get out during that season, as buck harvest was up 17 percent and antlerless harvest is up 17.5 percent statewide.
While hunter reports of deer activity varied around the state, most regions experienced excellent hunting conditions with cool temperatures, high visibility and low wind. Many reports indicated that the two things that would have made the conditions better would have been a coating of snow as well as cooler conditions freezing some of the wetter locations which would have increased access.
Preliminary registration figures in the northern and central forests showed a dip in harvest totals compared to the opening weekend in 2019 while the farmland zones saw an increase. Light snow is expected much of Wisconsin mid-week, potentially improving conditions and opportunities for hunters to stay afield through the remaining season.
Preliminary figures indicate that the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin increased compared to the same period for both 2019 and 2018. As of midnight Monday, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 810,233. Of that total, 559,591 were for gun privileges only, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are up 3.2 percent from the same time last year.
Female hunters are the largest growing demographic in 2020, with the number of female hunters reaching nearly 90,000, up 9 percent from last year. The number of non-resident licenses decreased this year, likely due to COVID-19.