White tailed deer (photo by skeeze from Pixabay)
The Department of Natural Resources has released the preliminary deer harvest and license sale totals for the opening weekend of the state’s 170th gun deer season. The regular deer season will continue through Nov. 28, following the statewide muzzleloader season (Nov. 29-Dec. 8). The statewide antlerless-only season will last four days, (Dec. 9-12).
A DNR press release noted that “Wisconsin continues to be a destination location for hunting white-tailed deer. People of all ages, genders, and races search out the great public and private land hunting opportunities across the state to pursue deer, make memories and to put a sustainable protein source on their table.” Preliminary numbers indicate that the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin decreased this year compared to 2020.
As of midnight Nov. 21, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 795,039. Of those, 551,809 were for gun privileges only, including gun, patron and sports licenses. In all, deer license sales are down 1.5% compared to the same time last year. However, the number of non-resident licenses increased this year. Over the course of opening weekend for the nine-day deer hunt, 85,860 deer were taken by hunters. While reports varied around the state, most hunters reported favorable weather conditions. However, visibility was low due to a lack of snow cover.
There have also been a number of hunting-related incidents. In Door County near the Township of Brussel, a 40-year-old man suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the hand. He’d placed his hand on the muzzle after pulling the hammer back on his firearm. The victim sought medical attention and was released. In another Door County incident near Sturgeon Bay the following day a 10-year-old boy sustained a gunshot wound. A 45-year-old hunter was shooting at a deer from his residence. The firearm discharged inside of the house while he was attempting to unload the firearm. The 10-year-old was taken to a hospital and treated. In another incident in Waukesha County the same day a 30-year-old male suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right leg. The man was in a tree stand and tried to hang the gun on a hanger. The victim in this case was also treated.
DNR game wardens are urging hunters to follow firearm safety rules, using the acronym TABK — T: Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. A: Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. B: Be certain of your target, what’s before it, and what’s beyond it. And K: Keep your finger outside your trigger guard until you are safe to shoot. Hunters are also encouraged to test harvested deer for Chronic Wasting Disease and other ailments before consuming any harvested meat.
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