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Nearly 18% fewer deer killed during Wisconsin’s gun season

LANDIN DEPAS OF Appleton, Wis., shot this 10-pointer at 7:45 a.m. on the opening day of the Wisconsin gun season in the Fence area of Florence County. Successful hunters are encouraged to send photos to The Daily News at news@ironmountaindailynews.com. Please include the hunter’s name, community of residence and, at a minimum, the number of antler points and the county in which the deer was taken. (Contributed photo)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Hunters killed significantly fewer deer during Wisconsin’s nine-day gun season this year than they did last year, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the state Department of Natural Resources.

After kicking off with a slow opening weekend, hunters reported a total of 173,942 deer harvested from Nov. 18-26, a 17.6% decrease from the 2022 season and roughly 11% below the state’s five-year average. Hunters in northern Wisconsin saw the steepest declines.

“There were probably fewer deer on the landscape than there were last year at this time,” Jeff Pritzl, the DNR’s deer specialist, said in a news conference. According to Pritzl, a severe winter last year may have diminished populations in northern forests and across the state.

Last year’s gun deer season in Wisconsin was above average thanks to snow cover that made deer stand out and a lack of standing corn for them to hide in. This year, hunters were met with warm temperatures and a lack of snow on opening weekend. Pritzl called the total harvest of 85,390 bucks and 88,552 antlerless deer “on the low end of the five-year average, but certainly not unprecedented.”

In the Northern Forest Zone, the antlered harvest of 17,715 was 14.7% below the five-year average. The antlerless harvest of 10,305, was 27.2% off the five-year pace. The total harvest of antlered and antlerless deer was down 30% from 2022. The buck harvest was down 27% from a year ago.

Florence County’s buck harvest of 734 was down 29.4% from a year ago but was just 8.2% off the five-year average. The antlerless harvest of 490 was up 33.5% from a year ago and

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