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2019 Gun Deer Final Numbers

12/3/19 @ 12:08 PM
User since 4/1/05

Just released, 2019 vs. 2018: Total buck kill down 28.6%, total harvest down 24.9%.  Northern Forest region was the worst: buck kill down 39.5%, total harvest down 38.2%.

Post opening weekend quote: "In 2018, we held the earliest possible deer season followed by the latest possible season in 2019. This occurred between the 2012-13 and 2007-08 seasons as well, and we saw similar declines in opening weekend registration totals," said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. 

2012 antlered harvest: 119,469

2013 antlered harvest: 102,221, drop of 14.5%

2007 antlered harvest: 133,107

2008 antlered harvest: 103,845, drop of 22%

Yes, there were decreases if you only look at the variable as stated by DNR above.  Total harvest of 75,236 bucks in 2019 tells another story.  Even in the worst years, the total buck kill was down 25% on top of the decrease "due to a late start to the season."  The buck kill was down 19% from the lowest buck kill numbers in the last 13 years.  We are on a continued and readily apparent trend downward.

As I posted in another thread, pick the year and you get the same excuses from DNR: standing crops, no snow, late start date to season, and the best of all "lack of hunter effort."

Most of us had record snowfalls late in the season which has never been seen before.  The Winter Severity Index does not properly account for deep snow or extreme cold.  -1 degree counts the same as -30 degrees, and 18" of snow counts the same as 40" of snow according to their system.  I feel a lot of deer died last winter/spring, but we were told we had a record population and a moderate winter even though hundreds of barn roofs collapsed from all the snow.

Since we as hunters failed, and did not do our part to reduce this out of control population as DNR has told us about, I suspect DNR will offer more doe tags, more seasons, more weapons, and longer seasons since we all obviously are failing at hunting.  

I am guessing the number of licenses sold next year will drop even faster with the winter we are already having.  

2/26/20 @ 9:05 PM
User since 6/20/13

Thanks for posting the information about Senate bill 3140 to help get wolf management back under the appropriate State agencies.. I was happy to see that Senator Johnson was a co-sponsor and I would hope this gets a lot of support by the hunting/farming community in the state.. I have shared and passed along information to all my hunting buddies and local sportsman club and would hope other LL members do the same..  

2/26/20 @ 8:33 PM
User since 11/15/06

You bet, thanks for the support Gents!

2/26/20 @ 7:58 PM
User since 6/25/02

JC, there are marshes and openings created by wind storms which is where the low browse will grow.  It doesn't grow under mature trees and especially conifers.  Like I said before to others, the deer aren't equally distributed over the landscape and they never will be unless they are so overpopulated that they have to move into poor habitat.  I think this is how it was in the early 2000's in Vilas county.  Deer were like flies.  I would see 25 on a mile walk.  I don't think we will see that again.  It wasn't healthy for the deer or the habitat and you could expect huge winter kill due to overbrowsing and no food. I'm not sure where you hunt but there are plenty of newly cut over areas in Vilas and Oneida county that have many deer in them.

Bucks make the rounds in the area I hunt and I see some year round but especially during the rut which seems to peak by us about Nov. 4.  Mature bucks will bed with their back to thick cover and if they are disturbed one bound and they are out of sight and they seem to hang together more than the other parts of the state I used to hunt. I do notice deer don't necessarily follow trails as much in northern Wisconsin but seem to wander and browse except of course during the winter.

2/26/20 @ 7:40 PM
User since 6/25/02

Thank you Luv the outdoors.  This is what I'm posting on my Facebook page.

For those of you that support the delisting of the gray wolf in Wisconsin.   Go to and sign the petition please!  We need a way to manage the wolf population in Wisconsin and the surrounding states.  We have far surpassed the goal of 350 wolves in Wisconsin when they were afforded protection through the endangered species act.  They have exceeded the social capacity and their carrying capacity and have been moving southward to less desirable habitat.

2/26/20 @ 7:01 PM
User since 12/14/14

Excellent LUVtheOTDRS, been looking for info for the last week. Ron Johnson would be our state rep contact. I sent it to all my contacts.

This would make a significant difference in the north after a few years.

Thanks again for the info.

2/26/20 @ 6:57 PM
User since 11/28/07


2/26/20 @ 6:16 PM
User since 11/15/06

JC (and everyone else!),

You mentioned the lack of info to support the Wolf Delisting bill. Go to and sign the petition please! I urge every last one of you on this thread to do the same! We’re SO close now! Every single signature could have an impact. 

2/26/20 @ 3:56 PM
User since 12/7/13

Does anyone have final 2019 deer harvest numbers all seasons buck and doe ? Are the final numbers out yet? 

2/26/20 @ 3:50 PM
User since 11/29/01

That is exactly why I want an earlier gun season north of HWY 8. " The same buck several miles away." This is wham they move enough to have a chance at seeing one.  The rebuttal , " we will destroy the age structure" , " the older bucks will get slaughtered before the rut" . It wont, at least where I hunt, there is almost noone hunting them on the public lands anymore. On opening day, there is a car here and there and most of these guys are less than 200 yds from the road anyway.  I cant say for others that hunt way up north, but it is amazing how few hunters there are the last 5 yrs. I still get bucks, and some bruisers on the cam, but only from Oct. 31. to about Nov. 10. This is my experience and has been that way for 30 yrs. Before trail cams, the buck sightings went way down by gun season. 

2/26/20 @ 11:55 AM
User since 4/1/05

"JC, the concept of having a 40 and retaining deer on it is the same whether you have an isolated woodlot or thousands of acres of forest.  If you don't want to have deer relocate elsewhere you cannot contaminate their bedding area with your scent or your disturbance."

Obviously you haven't spent a lot of time hunting mile upon mile of public land northwoods.  You will find, more often than not, deer will often bed in open mature forest, and often times along a hillside.  Reason being, they can see predators/wolves better.  During the rut you will get the same buck on cameras miles away - points to low deer density.  Areas of north central WI is devoid of concentrated food sources, especially during years of poor acorn crops.  Deer are browsing machines in this area and simply eat as they move along.  Deer do not bed in the same 10 acres in this country unless someone has a bait nearby, and those deer usually consist of a family group of antlerless deer with bucks from miles away occasionally running through.  

"If you are hunting a continuous forest,  move!"   

I agree, and would love to.  However, without being fortunate enough to own enough private land, I am forced to hunt vast areas of forest that is open to the public.  It is not easy to hunt large timber in the north without enough deer to hunt especially in areas without bait.  The deer travel miles to better food sources - ag country and food plots - private land areas.  Being a trophy hunter (trophy to me is simply a buck 3.5 years old or older regardless of rack size) it is the reason that I only shoot 2-4 deer a decade.

"Deer like edges,  more variety of food and cover is available."

Sure.  Agree.  This advice doesn't help us out much up here.  I own a small amount of timber in a farmland area and the chances of seeing deer are 1000% greater than hunting large areas of northern forest public land.  There are not many deer, and that is the core of the problem.

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