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Whitetail harvest up for opening weekend

Hunters in Marathon County harvested 2.6 percent more whitetail deer during this year’s opening weekend of the gun-deer season compared to last year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR reported hunters shot 1,621 antlered and 1,525 antlerless deer for a first weekend total of 3,146 deer.

In 2019, hunters harvested 1,555 antlered and 1,511 antlerless deer for a total first weekend take of 3,066.

The county increase mirrored what happened statewide.

In total, 95,257 deer were harvested by gun and registered statewide during the opening weekend of the 2020 nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 93,155 in 2019. A total of 49,025 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 48,252 in 2019.

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 and harvest deer 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.