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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.  

2/20/20 @ 9:34 PM
User since 2/16/17

OSD then you are plenty old enough to know what decent deer hunting and reasonable deer populations are. For Florence or any county maybe 10-20% of the square miles of real deer range or habitat.  So Florence like 50-100 sq miles of drone surveys. I am sure there are statistics for adequate sample size.  How much sample size to increase your accuracy. Nothing will be perfect but I believe it would be much more accurate then what we have with SAK with real deer being  counted with the drones  Have somewhat of a mixture of habitat that holds deer for your sample size. May have to change sampling a little as habitat changes. Would do sampling after deer season when all the leaves are off trees. If you don't do survey too late you may be able to tell bucks from does before bucks shed. The USDA guy I talked to said the drone they used could see a squirrel tail. I am not familiar how good some drones are but I hear they are pretty good and can zoom well with high resolution.  But I think the USDA guy said the thermal imaging may work better at night so maybe couldn't tell bucks.  If you cant tell bucks from does maybe can tell from historical kill averages for the county. Would learn more from doing it with a couple pilot counties to improve your surveys with other counties and counties used as the first pilot county surveys. Compare the drone surveys to SAK guestimates and also look at the kill numbers and you will see which estimate makes more sense.

2/20/20 @ 7:44 PM
User since 10/6/04

LL-What would you consider an adequate sample size of say FNB's county Florence. It contains 488 sq mi of land (not sure how much is considered range). Year after year comparisons would show trends but could also be a factor of changing landscape. Freshcut vs. mature growth as an example. When would you suggest as the best time to do a drone "audit". Would you be able to determine bucks from does? Oh, and I shot my first deer in '65. 

2/20/20 @ 3:53 PM
User since 2/16/17

I should also note in some of the last 10 gun deer seasons I have seen as few as 3-4 deer during the whole gun season when hunting are variety of new and old reliable areas. Tell me that's good hunting, also tell that to my 12 year old nephew and 16 year old niece I am trying to keep interested in deer hunting. Believing  in and keeping doing the same failed SAK ways of the dnr is rediculous and not going to improve anything. Some are just in a state of denial and believe in deer that don't exist.

2/20/20 @ 3:40 PM
User since 2/16/17

Sounds like maybe some haven't been hunting long enough to know what decent hunting looks like. They are content with seeing few or no deer. I don't want to hear the crap Kevin Wallenfang spouts out when he has no real info to come back when trying to defend his years of failure with deer management.  He always states you expect to see a deer behind every tree bs. No I and thousands of others expect to see a reasonable amount of deer during a season.  Yes its hunting. But seeing 7-10 deer during a 9 day gun deer season for the last 7-10 years is not accetable when hunting hard, scouting and knowing the land for 37 years better than the locals. All you expert hunters can give the standard line I don't know how to hunt. Really? Pretty weak statement. I can't hunt deer that aren' t there. I previously stated possible sources of funding for drone deer counts from Pittman Robertson federal funds to private funding for pilot drone deer count projects in a couple counties. You would not survey the whole county. You could set up checkerboard grid network of x amount of square miles of the county that would be a reasonable representation of the whole county and get a deer per square mile and extrapolate to get a population estimate for the whole county. Do the same grid every year. It would be a real deer count and more accurate then a SAK formula that has been proven through audits to have accuracy of plus or minus 121%. Sounds like people don't want to see the truth of a real count that will really show how far off SAK so we can get rid of it. Everyone has excuses why not to do a pilot project in a couple counties.  They want to keep using SAK because the population can be what you want it to be with it and you can use excuses every year when kill numbers arent what they should be further showing how bad SAK is . If you are content with the dnrs new normal of 30 year lows in many areas, you have a low standard for decent hunting and we will NEVER interest or keep new young and old hunters.

2/20/20 @ 2:18 PM
User since 10/6/04

" I wasn’t complaining at all when we were killing up towards 2 bucks per square mile . "

When do you think that was?

"OSD you are completely correct on the one hunter per forty it’s probably more like one hunter per 2 forties up north but that’s still a hunter success rate of 12.5% "

Another guess or do you have some data to support that? Keep in mind there are 39000 square miles of deer range not in the northern forest. A hunter density of 13 psm would take up all but around 60k of the license holders. Its been my observations....(ya I know not data).....that hunters follow the doe tags. Yes, I know people hunt both, I also know the woods pretty much empties out after the first weekend.

I'm curious. Why are you only concerned only about the 9 day gun season and not the whole harvest?

2/20/20 @ 11:44 AM
User since 12/7/13

How many bucks per square mile do you want FNB?  What would be an acceptable number for you and Little luck? Its hunting!

I think we’d surely like a deer population in the Northwoods that  would allow for more than 1 buck harvested per 17 forties in the Northwoods during rifle season  Swamp . A population about double of what we currently have , I wasn’t complaining at all when we were killing up towards 2 bucks per square mile .
OSD you are completely correct on the one hunter per forty it’s probably more like one hunter per 2 forties up north but that’s still a hunter success rate of 12.5% . I think we’d all agree that that’s just  dismal deer hunting  and our state could and should  do much much better .

* If you don’t like what I have to say OSD put me on ignore , its really easy to do . I do like your point of view on some things and definitely like to hear from someone that can give a well thought out counter point, you do make me rethink some points occasionally . 

2/20/20 @ 11:36 AM
User since 12/14/14

Just came back from a snowmobile trip north of hwy 8, I saw some deer around the small towns, a few deer near farm fields that have standing corn, and parts of deer carcasses along the trails out away from them areas. Seems like deer yarding up would be an easy target for the wolves.

2/20/20 @ 9:42 AM
User since 10/6/04

One last time and then you can go find someone else to ignore.

"What are your expert in all things thoughts on that independent thermal drone program Luck was suggesting ?"

First off what are you expecting to accomplish with this? How much of the 17000 square miles of the north would you like to survey with a drone. How many drones would be needed? Who would purchase them? How many people would be needed to be trained to operate them or would only professionals be involved.  Assuming this would be done in the winter, what areas would you target? Answer those.

 "I’d just have to guess at them of a minimum of one hunter per forty on a average ."

Really? So, the roughly 10 hunters psm average statewide are concentrated north of 64 to get up to 16 psm. Yep, I can see that with all the deer you say are "up nort". Or, like most of your "guesses" it is a Henry Aaron shot to left field.

2/20/20 @ 9:10 AM
Swamp buck
User since 1/23/09

How many bucks per square mile do you want FNB?  What would be an acceptable number for you and Little luck? Its hunting! Nothing is guaranteed and thats why its exciting because we don't know the outcome. I think some people on this site are kidding themselves if they think deer numbers anywhere are going to return to the numbers you saw in the early 2000's. That's never going to happen. SAK was fine when we were shooting big numbers for years in the early 2000's but now its junk? For sure the DNR has made some mistakes but the continual bashing of them and the alluded conspiracy that they want all the deer dead is laughable. What am I going to hear next? I heard from a guy at the bar who seemed pretty smart to me that they released Bigfoots to kill and eat the remaining deer. Probably true.... Here is a tip- Hunt where there deer are.

2/20/20 @ 8:21 AM
User since 12/7/13

Here’s another good question for you OSD since you obviously think our deer hunting is terrific as is in the Northern Forest . What were the success rates on a rifle buck in the Northwoods in 2019 OSD? Certainly you have the research of hunter densities ? I’d just have to guess at them of a minimum of one hunter per forty on a average . What kind of a success rates did we experience in the Northern forest in 2019 ? Anyone else want to chime in on this if OSD doesn’t want to tackle it ? I’d love to hear opinions and discussion as there are so many differing views and great minds here . 

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