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DNR planning fall ‘deer diary’

This fall, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is launching its largest ever survey of deer hunters to better understand which harvest opportunities hunters decide to take.

Participating hunters will use an online diary to record the number of hours they spend hunting, deer sightings and observations related to buck age and harvest selectivity. The aim of this study is to gain more information about statewide hunter success and selectivity when deer hunting.

The deer hunter diary will start with the beginning of the bow season on Sept. 12 and will run until the end of the nineday gun season on Nov. 29. The department plans to contact more than 130,000 licensed hunters by email asking them to participate in the diary survey.

The DNR will randomly select hunters to participate in three days of online diary entries to record their experiences deer hunting. Examples of the types of questions asked within the diary include: How many hours were spent hunting, how many deer were seen, how many deer the hunter had an opportunity to harvest and how many deer were harvested.

“This study allows for a unique opportunity for hunters to have direct involvement in citizen science and deer management in Wisconsin,” said Robert Holsman, DNR resource sociologist. “This is the first time we are conducting the deer hunter diary at the statewide level, and we are looking forward to hearing directly from deer hunters about their observations of deer and experiences while hunting.”

“We test piloted this study in Bayfield and Iowa counties last fall, and we are hoping to build off of our findings to figure out how often hunters are passing bucks they consider to be too small,” said Meghan Pluemer, DNR resource sociologist.

Groups of deer hunters will be sampled continually throughout the deer seasons this fall, so hunters may be selected to participate at any time throughout the bow and nine-day firearm season.

Participation in the diary survey is optional, and the department strongly encourages everyone selected to take part.