Florence buck harvest down slightly on opening weekend

FLORENCE, Wis. — Wisconsin’s buck harvest was up statewide during the opening weekend of the nine-day gun deer season, but down slightly in Florence County.

The season opened Nov. 17 and will end this weekend.

Florence County’s buck harvest for the first weekend was 622, a decline of 2.8 percent from a year ago, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said.

Florence County’s antlerless harvest was 364, an increase of 9 percent. The overall total of 986 was up by 12 deer from a year ago, representing a 1.2 percent increase.

Statewide, Wisconsin’s overall harvest was up 12.8 percent during the opening weekend, with the buck harvest of 65,388 up 8.3 percent and the antlerless harvest rising 18.8 percent to 53,282.

Northern Marinette County saw an opening weekend buck harvest of 941, a decline of 27.5 percent from last year. The antlerless harvest was 386, an increase of 30.8 percent, but the overall harvest of 1,327 deer was down 16.7 percent from 2017’s opening weekend.

The harvest from southern Marinette County was up markedly, with 2,044 deer taken, an increase of 47.1 percent. The buck harvest was 1,165, up 45.3 percent, and the antlerless kill was 879, an increase of 49.5 percent.

A change in the boundaries for Marinette County’s forest and farmland hunting zones likely accounts for some of the differences in harvest figures between 2017 and 2018, the DNR said.

Forest County’s opening weekend buck kill was 610, up 1.8 percent from a year ago, while the antlerless harvest of 100 was down 41.9 percent. The overall total of 710 was down 7 percent from last year’s opening weekend, the DNR said.

Due to the threat of chronic wasting disease, deer baiting is prohibited this year across northeastern Wisconsin, including Florence, Marinette and Forest counties.

The higher statewide harvest comes despite fewer hunters in the woods.

DNR data show about 774,300 people bought some form of deer license before opening day Saturday, down 2.5 percent from 2017. About 547,500 people bought some form of gun deer license, down from about 589,600.

DNR officials attributed the higher harvest numbers to good conditions, including snow cover.