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Deer totals down so far

Following statewide trends, the opening weekend gun season deer harvest in Clark and Marathon counties was sharply lower than in 2018.

The Wisconsin DNR is encouraging hunters, however, to take advantage of colder, snowy weather this week when hunting conditions will improve.

Statewide, hunters registered 90,286 deer for the opening weekend of the nine-day gun-deer season, a 27 percent drop from 2018, when 123,090 were harvested. Hunters bagged 46,866 bucks this year compared with 67,636 last year, a de- cline of 30 percent.

Marathon County hunters harvested 2,985 deer over the opening weekend, a split between 1,513 antlered deer and 1,472 antlerless deer. Last year, county hunters bagged a total of 4,314 deer (30 percent more), including 2,362 antlered deer and 1,952 antlerless deer.

In Clark County, deer totals dropped by 19 percent, from 2,408 in 2018 to 1,942 this year. That number includes 893 antelered deer (down 21 percent) and 1,049 anterless (down 18 percent) The DNR reported that while many hunters reported excellent deer activity, other reported little, including in areas where there is an abundance of deer. Reports of rutting activity were far less common compared to last year, the agency said. This was anticipated given the late deer season.

โ€œIn 2018, we held the earliest possible deer season followed by the latest possible season in 2019,โ€ said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. โ€œThis occurred between the 2012-13 and 2007-08 seasons as well, and we saw similar declines in opening weekend registration totals.โ€

The DNR said hunters may have better luck given a change in the weather.

โ€œWith temperatures staying low and snow coming to many parts of the state mid week, hunters can expect more opportunities for success and are encouraged to head out to enjoy the remainder of the nine-day hunting season hunting with family and friends.โ€