Posted on

Taylor County gun deer kill up, follows exceptional early bow hunt

Taylor County gun deer kill up, follows exceptional early bow hunt Taylor County gun deer kill up, follows exceptional early bow hunt

With a sizable increase in antlerless harvest authorizations this year in Taylor County came the expected increase in antlerless harvest, which was the primary driving force in a 26.5% overall increase over last year in the county during the nine-day gun deer season.

According to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Taylor County hunters registered 1,373 antlered bucks through the Nov. 30 deadline, up 7.5% from last year’s figure of 1,277, and 1,844 antlerless deer, up 45.7% from last year’s total of 1,266.

The 2020 total of 3,217 deer compares to last year’s total of 2,543. The 2019 season was marred by two snowstorms that slowed down hunting significantly in the last five days of the season.

The antlerless hike was expected after bonus antlerless authorizations in the county went up to 8,350 this year from 5,600 a year ago on private land and up to 1,000 this year from 675 in 2019.

According to Josh Spiegel, the DNR’s wildlife biologist for Taylor, Rusk and Sawyer counties, the success of gun hunters was just an extension of what had been happening in the county already this fall.

“Taylor County went higher than most places, although I was not surprised by that with our tag allotment,” Spiegel said Tuesday. “We were kinda trending this way. Success was really good. The big indicator for me was the 7.5% on buck kills. That’s actually pretty darn good.

“Our early archery season stats came out and, in Taylor County, archery bucks pre-gun season was up 30.4%, which is very significant,” he added. “We saw that trend really across northern Wisconsin. Most of the state was up a fair amount. A lot of that was COVID and stuff. We had a lot more people out in the woods. A lot of semi-moderate hunters became more fixed hunters. But that was a significant jump. To be positive in both, to have the 7.5% percent increase in gun season and 30% in early archery, right there, I’d say is a great season already.”

The DNR has posted archery and crossbow registration numbers through Nov. 30. In Taylor County, hunters have already registered 833 crossbow bucks and 375 bow bucks for a total of 1,208, which easily surpasses last year’s total of 971 that included the late archery season.

Taylor County’s numbers were part of a 4.7% increase over last year in the buck kill for the entire 18-county Northern Region, a 15.9% increase in the region’s antlerless harvest and a 9.1% overall increase in the region over 2019. Hunters in the region registered 16,936 bucks, up from 16,172, and 12,260 antlerless deer, up from 10,579.

Unlike last year, hunting conditions were generally favorable from day one on Nov. 21 through day nine on Sunday. The third-latest start date allowed under Wisconsin’s nine-day season structure likely produced less deer sightings relating to the deer’s breeding season, which tends to wind down by Nov. 15-20.

“Obviously the most pressure, harvest and shooting took place opening weekend,” Spiegel said. “Wednesday was the low point. Deer activity seemed to be variable. A lot of people reported seeing a lot of good movement opening weekend. Then through the rest of the week it was kind of spotty. Obviously with increased pressure it’s not a surprise that deer activity changed through the season.

“People were able to get out,” he added. “Opening weekend on Sunday we had a little bit of snow move through that kind of dampened that morning and midday. Otherwise people could get everywhere they could hunt everywhere. We had cool conditions so the ground was actually pretty firm for a lot of swamps and stuff. I think in general, most of what we saw was not so many of the large hunting groups like we’ve seen in past years, but a lot of hunters in general. Small group type things.”

While the harvest numbers for Taylor County look good compared to 2019, the buck totals aren’t huge compared to other recent seasons. Just two years ago in 2018, the post-season preliminary nine-day count was 1,958 bucks and 1,438 does. In 2017, the preliminary count showed 1,860 registered bucks and the 2016 tally showed 1,689 bucks registered.

This year’s 1,844 registered deer is fairly significant. It is the highest antlerless harvest in the county since 2,265 were reported to have been registered during the nine-day hunt in 2013. Record winter severity hit northern Wisconsin in the months following that hunt.

Spiegel noted the buck harvests are far more indicative of where the herd’s population sits than the antlerless harvests, which are dependent on permit numbers.

This year’s preliminary count of 3,217 total deer is Taylor County’s second-highest total since the harsh winter of 2013-14, trailing only the 3,396 total deer that were part of the preliminary count in 2018. The archery numbers of this year will easily surpass anything county hunters have recorded in recent memory.

Spiegel said the CWD sampling stations appeared to attract a decent amount of traffic. DNR officials were hoping to get at least 150 or so samples to create at total of 300 in the county between 2019 and 2020.

“Our CWD kiosks seemed to do pretty decent,” he said. “The one that really stood out that continued to be pretty good were the carcass dumpsters. The one at the Medford ranger station and the one at the Rib Lake Cenex station both seemed to be pretty decent again, so Deer hunt

people are taking that opportunity.”

Statewide report

Preliminary figures show that hunters registered 188,712 deer during the nineday gun deer hunt, including 85,340 antlered and 103,372 antlerless deer. Since archery season opened Sept. 12, hunters have registered 305,171 deer statewide, showing the growing impact of earlier seasons on cumulative harvest.

Deer harvest trends since the beginning of the archery season were above 2019 levels, and this trend continued through the gun deer season. Compared to 2019, the total nine-day gun deer harvest was up 15.8% statewide, with buck harvest up 12.2% and antlerless harvest up 19%. All management zones showed harvest increases from 2019.

Current deer harvest totals have surpassed the total deer harvested in 2019, but harvest trends lag behind 2018, which had the highest total deer harvest since 2013. While many southern farmland zone counties saw double-digit increases in the buck harvest, the harvest was not evenly distributed across the state.

A number of units in the northern forest zone including Ashland, Florence, Forest, Iron, Lincoln, Marinette and Price counties, experienced another year of declining buck harvest during the nine-day gun deer season. However, total buck harvest in those counties appears to be similar compared to 2019 harvest for the same period.

The 2020 harvest breakdown by Deer Management Zone (with percent change from 2019) includes:

_ Northern Forest Zone: 16,936 antlered (4.7% increase) and 12,260 antlerless (15.9% increase).

_ Central Forest Zone: 3,349 antlered (12.1% increase) and 2,562 antlerless (23.9% increase).

_ Central Farmland Zone: 45,060 antlered (12.9% increase) and 63,077 antlerless (17.4% increase).

_ Southern Farmland Zone: 19,995 antlered (17.5% increase) and 25,473 antlerless (24.3% increase).

As of midnight, Sunday, Nov. 29, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 820,299. Of that total, 569,203 were for gun privileges, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are up 3.5% from the same time last year.

Female hunters remain the largest growing demographic in 2020, with the number of female hunters reaching nearly 92,312, up 12% from last year. The number of non-resident licenses decreased this year, likely due to COVID-19.

Hunting incidents

The DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reports nine firearm-involved injuries and one fatality for the entire 2020 nineday gun deer season.

_ In Washburn County’s Bashaw Township on Nov. 21, a 62-year-old male victim was struck in the upper arm and face by a rifle round. A 19-year-old shooter and victim were participating in a deer drive together.

_ In St. Croix County’s Eau Galle Township on Nov. 21, a 14-year-old male victim was struck in the left leg by a shotgun slug. The 27-year-old shooter and the victim were participating in a deer drive together.

_ In Adams County on Nov. 22, a 40-year-old male shooter/victim was working the action of his pistol when it discharged into his left hand.

_ On Door County’s Washington Island on Nov. 22, a 65-year-old male victim/ shooter was exiting his blind with his shotgun when he tripped and the firearm discharged into his chest. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

_ In La Crosse County’s Onalaska Township on Nov. 24, a 62-year-old male victim was walking with a rifle when he slipped and fell on the snow, causing the rifle to discharge. A round entered his right foot.

_ In Richland County’s Sylvan Township on Nov. 24, a 68-year-old male victim was sitting in his vehicle when a loaded rifle discharged and the bullet grazed his forehead. The shooter placed the loaded firearm in the vehicle with it pointed at the victim. The victim pushed the muzzle away when it fired.

_ In Waushara County’s Coloma Township on Nov. 26, a 26-year-old female victim was walking on the Ice Age trail when she was struck by a bullet in the thigh. A 51-year-old male shooter was shooting at what he thought was a deer.

_ In Marathon County’s McMillan Marsh Wildlife Area on Nov. 27, a 30-year-old male victim was participating in a large deer drive. A 26-year-old male shooter was shooting at a running deer when his bullet struck the victim in the face and shoulder area.

_ In Green County’s Exeter Township on Nov. 28, a 15-year-old male victim was participating in a deer drive. A 45-year-old male shooter shot at a running deer and his bullet struck the victim in the leg.

Remaining hunts

_ Nov. 30-Dec. 9: statewide muzzleloader hunt.

_ Dec. 10-13: statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt.

_ Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2021: nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties.

_ Through Jan. 3, 2021: remaining archery and crossbow seasons.

_ Jan. 4-31, 2021: extended archery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties.