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Deer Harvest Numbers Down in 2021

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 -- 8:01 AM


The 2021 nine-day gun deer hunt in Wisconsin kicked off the holiday season with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, put delicious, wild-harvested protein on the table and make memories with family and friends.

Preliminary license sales, harvest registration and hunting incident numbers are now available. As of 11:59 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 808,224.

Of that total, 564,440 were for gun privileges, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are down 1.5% from the same time last year. Of the licenses sold to date, 60% of licenses were purchased online.

The remaining 40% were sold in-person through transactions at DNR license agents locations. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons.

Preliminary figures show that hunters registered 175,667 deer during the 2021 nine-day gun deer hunt, including 84,952 antlered and 90,715 antlerless deer.

Since archery seasons opened Sept. 18, hunters have registered 270,046 deer statewide, showing the growing influence of earlier seasons on cumulative harvest.

Compared to 2020, the total firearm deer harvest was down 7.9% statewide, with buck harvest down 1.3% and antlerless harvest down 13.2%. The Northern Forest management zone showed harvest increases from 2020 for both antlered and antlerless kills, while the other three zones showed declines in harvest.

The Central Forest (-3.0%) and Central Farmland (-8.9%) had similar declines in total harvest from 2020 levels, while the Southern Farmland showed a larger decline in total harvest of 17.0%.

Adams County’s Central Farmland led the state with over nine deer registered per square mile. Vernon County led the Southern Farmland Zone with almost six deer registered per square mile.

Oneida registered the most per square mile in the Northern Forest Zone at 4.5, and Eau Claire’s Central Forest registered almost 3.5 deer per square mile.

While opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with some snow in the north, DNR staff across the state reported good weather throughout the season. Snow cover and frozen wetlands would have improved visibility and access for hunters.

Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after recovery at gamereg.wi.gov or by calling 1-844-426-3734. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline.

More information regarding preliminary registration totals, including county-level numbers, is available on the DNR website here. A 2010-21 comparison of preliminary nine-day gun deer season registration totals is also available online.

Harvest numbers will climb as hunters enjoy additional hunting opportunities including:

Nov. 29 - Dec. 8: Statewide muzzleloader hunt;

Dec. 9-11: Statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt;

Dec. 24 - Jan. 1, 2022: Nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties;

Now to Jan. 9, 2022: Remaining archery and crossbow seasons;

And Jan. 10-31, 2022: Extended archery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties.

Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless harvest authorization during any of these hunts, but they must be used in the zone, county and land type designated on the harvest authorization.

More information regarding hunts offered in each county and an interactive deer map is available on the DNR website.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.