DNR: Harvest numbers up in 2012 gun deer hunt

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – How was this year's gun deer hunt for you?

New numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources show a successful hunt across the state with more deer harvested than last year.

The DNR says warmer weather and an increase in the deer population led to a successful hunt.

Preliminary figures show 243,739 deer were killed in the nine day gun hunt.

Hunters were no stranger to success here in the West Central District.

The DNR says hunters in the area had lots to smile about this season.

Although most of the hunters have left deer camp, local businesses are still feeling the effects of a good hunt.

“We've been holding back on the number of antlerless permits for the last couple of years. So we expected the herd to increase,” said Kris Belling of the Wisconsin DNR.

And increase it did.

Buck kills were up 16 percent in the West Central Region, the highest increase in the state this year.

Antlerless deer were up 8 percent.

Meaning a total 11 percent increase from 2011, with more than 90,000 deer harvested in the region.

“More recently, the lowest harvest was in 2009 and it's been gradually increasing,” Belling said.

In the central part of the state, Belling said the DNR has been looking for the herd to come up.

“It does look like that’s happening again,” Belling said.

But the DNR said deer are still making sporadic appearances.

Derrick Groshek said he hunted in central Wisconsin this season, but wasn't able to make any kills.

“Overall you're still seeing a lot of deer out there. It's the luck of the draw, if you’re at the right place at the right time,” Groshek said.

More deer being harvested means more business for Dreamcatcher Outfitters and Taxidermy in Eau Claire.

Owner Ryan Kierstead said he's getting lots of requests for shoulder-mounts.

“With the mild winter and stuff I presumed it would be up. A lot of new customers this year, young kids taking great deer,” Kierstead said.

The DNR said it will continue research to make sure the population doesn't get out of control.

“I don't see an end in sight anytime soon unless we get a really bad winter or something like that,” Kierstead said.

These are just preliminary numbers.

The DNR is waiting until when all the deer hunting seasons are completed in January to put together final numbers.

Right now the muzzle-loader season is in full swing.

That goes until December 5th.

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