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Preliminary Harvest Numbers for Wisconsin's Gun Deer Season

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022 -- 8:00 AM


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced the preliminary deer harvest and license sale totals for the opening weekend of the 2022 gun deer season.

The regular gun deer season continues through Nov. 27, followed by the statewide muzzleloader season (Nov. 28 – Dec. 7), the statewide antlerless-only four-day season (Dec. 8-11) and antlerless holiday hunts in select farmland zone counties later in December.

Wisconsin continues to be a destination location for hunting white-tailed deer. People of all backgrounds search out the great public and private land hunting opportunities across the state to pursue deer, make memories and put a sustainable protein source on their table.

Be sure to follow the DNR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your experiences and for more updates, photos and stories throughout the gun deer season. Preliminary figures indicate that the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin decreased compared to 2021.

As of midnight Sunday, Nov. 20, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 779,123. Of that total, 421,474 were for gun privileges only. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are down 2% from the same time last year.

The number of conservation patron licenses sold to date in 2022 is 2.2% higher than all conservation patron licenses sold in 2021. Of the total licenses sold, 62% were sold online, and 38% were sold in-person by DNR license agents and DNR service centers, which includes private businesses across the state.

Final license sales figures will be available in January, at which time DNR staff will perform a thorough analysis and interpretation. In total, 102,347 deer were registered statewide during the opening weekend of the 2022 gun deer hunt, compared to the 85,860 registered for the same period in 2021.

This is a 15% increase over 2021 and is on par with the average opening weekend harvest. A total of 55,503 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 47,529 in 2021. This is a 14% increase over 2021 and is 2% above the 5-year average.

Conditions for opening weekend this year included some snow cover but were cold with high winds, particularly on Saturday, which suppressed some hunter activity. Conditions improved slightly on Sunday, but wind chill was still a factor in some parts of the state.

Despite the challenging conditions, hunters saw good deer movement overall, with some evidence of bucks still showing breeding behavior. Throughout the state, warming temperatures during the week will likely lead to a loss of the snow cover in parts of the state.

Where it doesn’t melt completely, it will result in crunchy conditions from daytime melting and refreezing at night. Beyond the potential for rain on Thanksgiving Day, conditions should be great for hunting during the remainder of the gun deer season.

As a reminder, hunters are required to register their deer by 5 p.m. the day after recovery through GameReg, the game registration system. Harvested deer may be registered in one of three ways:

  • Online: gamereg.wi.gov (fastest and easiest method),
  • Phone: 1-844-426-3734, When prompted, use your phone keypad to spell the first three letters of the county. For example, a registrant in Adams County would spell A-D-A by pressing “232.”,
  • In-Person: Find a station that offers a phone or computer for registration through the online hunting resources stations portal.

Reminder: When registering, you will need your unique harvest authorization number to begin the process. Wisconsin's 10-year average is approximately six hunting incidents for the gun deer hunt.

The decline in incidents is the direct result of hunter safety education given by Wisconsin's volunteer instructors and conservation wardens. Wardens remind all hunters to always use the four firearm safety rules as a cornerstone for safe and successful outings:

  • 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,
  • K - Keep your finger outside your trigger guard until you are safe to shoot.

Anyone with information regarding natural resource violations may confidentially report by calling or texting: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained staff relay the information to conservation wardens.

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