Eau Claire (WQOW) - Preliminary numbers released Tuesday from the Department of Natural Resources show the overall deer harvest was down in 2016 from the previous year, but the number of bucks killed increased.
According to the DNR, nearly 600,000 hunters registered for the 9-day gun season in 2016. Of those hunters, 97,892 were successful in their pursuit of a buck, up 5,282 from 2015. That's an increase of 5.7 percent. Overall harvest numbers were lower, with 196,785 deer harvested, compared to 198,075 in 2015. In Dunn County, 5,024 deer were harvested which is down slightly from last year. In Chippewa County, 2,344 deer were killed. That is 1,361 less deer than in 2015. Eau Claire County was the only local area to see an increase from last year. This year 2,527 deer were taken, up about 200 from last year.
The DNR said the largest change in the buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone after 2 consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags.
"While many factors influence hunter success, the buck harvest is one of our best indicators of how the population is responding to harvest strategies in the Forest Zones," said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang."The harvest is never uniform just as deer densities aren't uniform, but overall it is encouraging to see the increase in the northern counties, and statewide harvest levels similar to last year."
Here's a breakdown of the 2016 9-day gun hunt by region:
Hunters were required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after harvest. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline. For more information regarding preliminary registration and license sales numbers, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "weekly totals."
Hunters who harvested their first deer this season are also reminded to fill out a first deer certificate and commemorate a successful hunt. A printable certificate will be sent to the email address provided.
For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."