Wisconsin hunters bagged nearly 189,000 deer during the annual nine-day firearm hunt, an increase of nearly 16% over the previous year.
According to numbers released Tuesday by the Department of Natural Resources, hunters brought in 85,340 bucks, an annual increase of 12.2%.
Since the start of the archery season on Sept. 12, hunters have registered more than 305,000 deer, an increase of 16.5% over the previous year.
While better than the 2019 season, this year’s totals are still below 2018, which had the highest numbers since 2013.
“It’s good to see this year’s numbers are on the rebound,” said Eric Lobner, the DNR’s wildlife management bureau director. “We’ve got some work to do.”
The 2019 season fell as late as possible in the year, while 2018 was as early as possible. The gun deer season is timed to straddle the Thanksgiving holiday.
Despite mild opening weekend temperatures, DNR staff reported excellent hunting conditions and weather for most of the season, except for a day or two of wind and rain.
Bucks were plentiful in southern farmland zones, with double-digit increases in some counties, but were scarce in parts of the northern forest zone, where hunters in Ashland, Florence, Forest, Iron, Lincoln, Marinette and Price counties experienced another year of declining harvest.
DNR wardens reported nine firearm-related injuries and one fatality, a 65-year-old man who shot himself in the chest when he tripped while hunting on Washington Island.
There were four injuries and no fatalities reported during the 2019 season.
While overall hunting license sales were up 3.5%, Lorber noted more people are choosing to hunt during the earlier, longer archery and crossbow seasons.
“The conditions are generally nicer,” he said. “And there’s significantly more opportunity.”
While they account for only about 11% of all hunters, females are the fastest-growing demographic, with license sales up more than 12% over last year.
Photos: Bears, bucks, cougar and fighting foxes caught on Wisconsin trail cams