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2019 vs 2020 Opening Weekend Harvest Comparison

12/1/20 @ 9:44 AM
USER SINCE 4/17/07

Still waiting on the final 9 day harvest numbers but it is interesting to compare opening weekend from this year to last year. Overall harvest is up 2.3% from 2019, but 2019 harvest was down 25% from 2018 so not much of an improvement. A disturbing trend in my opinion. Makes me sick to see how many doe tags are still available for purchase.


12/2/20 @ 4:46 PM

When I shoot a larger buck most goes to make processed sausage out of.  Steaks on a big older buck are less than desireable.  2-3 old doe, yes please.  But yes I'd still rather shoot a big buck lol.  

12/2/20 @ 3:47 PM

fishunt, I'd agree with you.  I'd rather have the neighbors shoot the bigger deer (if that's what they want) and give me a smaller deer for eating.  I don't waste anything.  I trim the meat off the ribs for sausage, I save the meat on the bones for soup. I eat the heart.  Some of those hunting videos disgust me.  They wait overnight then go and retrieve the deer.  That meat won't taste very good on that 4 or 5 year old buck that's been sitting for up to 18 hours, sometimes more before they retrieve it!  Nothing is better table fair, in my opinion, than a 2 year old doe. You don't think venison taste good I dare you to eat one I've butchered myself and not like it! My kids are super picky eaters and they like venison.  They haven't tried a 4 year old buck from the northwoods though, I have when I was a kid and it was nasty!  Big difference in a northwoods buck and a corn-eating deer from the south too....big difference!

12/2/20 @ 2:59 PM
USER SINCE 4/17/07

Not everyone has the time or wants to hunt more than one weekend a year. So if the guys that only go for opening day and half the day Sunday want meat for the freezer they will probably shoot the first deer they see. Nothing wrong with that as they bought a license and have a tag. 

I don't know of anyone who looks down on someone who only goes fishing a couple times a year and keeps what they catch, why should hunting be any different? 

The mentality that everyone needs to pass small bucks and practice QDM is complete arrogance. I think QDM is a great thing but I can't stand it when when guys look down on people who just want to shoot a deer and are happy with that. I shot a small buck this year and the antlers are hanging up in my garage already. I've passed on way bigger bucks in the past, but this year I just wanted to shoot one and I was very happy with him. I can't stand watching 99% of the hunting shows out there today. Makes me sick to see these 'deer farmers' and all of their stupid names for the bucks. 

12/2/20 @ 2:17 PM

"Gun only hunters are more likely to add a crossbow license than give up the gun hunting license."

I have seen this argument and "study" from DNR before, but comparing the archery license sales to crossbow sales since 2014, it is pretty reflective of guys simply switching from bow to the more effective crossbow - guys that bowhunted anyway.  There are few average rifle hunting opening weekend Joes who are going drive north for a random weekend to sit by themselves with a crossbow vs. coming up to stay with friends for the traditional opener.  These guys are simply going to quit buying a rifle license when the product is poor and are/will quit(ting) hunting.  Not many "opening weekend Joe's" are going to spend a grand or two getting set up with a crossbow to drive up for a random weekend to deer hunt.  This is obvious driving the northwoods where many empty deer camps exist no longer.   

12/2/20 @ 12:47 PM
USER SINCE 5/19/06

Outside of a few destination western big game states, hunting license declines in wisconsin have mirrored the national trend in declining sales and participation for the last twenty some odd years. Gun only hunters are more likely to add a crossbow license than give up the gun hunting license. I would venture to say for many, harvesting a deer is secondary to the camaraderie associated with deer camp experience. Sure, it’s frustrating not to harvest a deer, but the times spent amongst family (or away from family  ) and friends are what keep them going back. The few thousand extra deer harvested by archery hunters are not the problem. If anything it is slowing the bleeding some by allowing the average Joe or baby boomer who just wants a deer to get out in October or early November to do just that. The nine day gun season is becoming a vestige of the past. It will still be a big deal for many, but not like it was. The trend will continue, Wisconsin is not immune. You are right, eventually the North American model will face a reckoning, it’s inevitable. 

12/2/20 @ 12:18 PM
USER SINCE 12/14/14

Wisconsin deer hunters managing the herd at its best. 

12/2/20 @ 12:18 PM
USER SINCE 10/4/11

Nice post H&H-so many people out there that think that way!

U forgot about the-I shoot the first buck I see and maybe next year I will get the big one-lol

You can’t shoot the big one if you shoot him when he is young and you can’t shoot the big doe if u want two big does next year! 

I love the tradition of gun season but hate the “one weekend a year gotta shoot my deer in two days” hunters out there! 

12/2/20 @ 11:03 AM
USER SINCE 7/24/01

I only saw a couple deer, so I'm going shoot a doe.  I'm sure hunting will be better next year.  

12/2/20 @ 9:56 AM

"Why is this trend troubling? Stringed weapon northern forest buck harvest, with several weeks to go, is up almost 26% from last years total. I’d bet when it’s all said and done northern forest total buck harvest will be up 10-15% from last year. "

If I were honest, I personally don't see it as troubling because I want more bucks to live annually - selfish as I bowhunt.  However, from a big picture it is incredibly troubling.  As rifle season success rates continue to trend in a nosedive (from predation, killing too many does, and more being shot before rifle season even starts), it will accelerate the loss of rifle hunters as a whole.  There are multiple thousands of "non-serious" hunters out there that will never go bowhunting or use a crossbow.  They consist of people who go for the tradition, to see the crew on opening weekend, and generally hunt public land mostly.  These are the people that are quitting, and will be the most impacted when less deer are available.

Why is this a problem?  Losing hunters is a problem.  Not only from protecting our 2nd amendment and hunting rights, but for other reasons as well.  Losing hunters hamstrings management.  Hunters are the only tool game managers have that they can control in wildlife management.  Secondly is money.  With a loss of license revenue it impacts all of us at a state level.  Also, loss of ammo and firearm sales impacts the Pittman-Robertson Act funds as 11% taxes (I think that is what it is) on guns and ammo goes directly to states to fund wildlife programs.  This fund has done numerous things for management including the latest buck recovery studies in WI.  Don't forget the impact to the economies with the loss of migration of hunters to the northwoods (hotels, restaurants, bars, grocers, etc.).

For guys with private land or in areas where there are a lot of deer you won't see a problem.  But for us who hunt the Northern Forest units you can already tell what is happening.  People pay money to expect a good product.  When the product sucks, you quit buying it.  There is a lot of concern about this.  

12/2/20 @ 8:34 AM

I hunt in Marinette county. Historically see a decent amount of animals to have a 'successful' experience. This year only saw two. I will get out for the doe hunt on December 12 and the holiday hunt over Christmas. It is what it is. I am grateful to enjoy the time outdoors.

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