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DNR sees nearly 25% drop in gun deer season harvest

Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 03, 2019

Numbers from the gun deer season reinforce what you may have heard from hunters: many of them went home empty-handed.

The harvest for the nine days was down nearly 25 percent from last year.

"We came home with five deer last year," said hunter John Stumpner. "This year only two."

While Stumpner's group bagged fewer deer than last year, they did better than most.

The DNR says there were 160,769 registered harvests this year. That's down from 213,972 in 2018. which is a 24.9 percent decrease.

"This year we had the latest nine day season," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Dianne Robinson. "When we've had that in previous years, we've generally seen a drop of 20 to 25 percent, so that's fairly common."

The DNR says a later gun deer season comes later in the rut or mating season, and deer are less active. Plus, there was heavy snow, wind and rain throughout different parts of the state over the nine days. The DNR adds that standing corn that has not yet been harvested provided extra cover for the deer.

"A lot of the guys said they almost had to walk up and almost step on the deer," said John Rodenkirch, who works at Deer Creek Processing in Waukesha. "So they're not moving around as much."

Despite the down numbers, business remains steady at Deer Creek Processing in Waukesha. Other meat processors say they are seeing fewer deer, but it's not too concerning, especially since they say last year was so successful.

In the meantime, the DNR says it will likely see an increase in the deer population. The agency won't have the numbers until late winter, after muzzleloader, archery and the holiday hunt wrap up.