DNR: 2022 deer hunt was better than 2021

Preliminary numbers show over 14% more deer bagged than last year despite fewer hunters
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 12:10 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 1:03 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - This year’s deer hunting season wrapped up Sunday, and preliminary totals show a sizeable increase in the number of animals harvested over last year.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says since bow hunting season opened on Sept. 17, hunters registered over 300,000 deer statewide, including 203,295 by gun hunters.

The number of deer harvested during gun season increased by 14.4% statewide over 2021. That includes a 14.7% increase in antlered deer bagged and a 14.1% increase in antlerless deer. That’s nearly double the 5-year average of 7.7% increases year-to-year.

“Basically, the trend we saw on opening weekend and the pace we had opening weekend of it outpacing 2021 persisted throughout the 9-day season,” DNR biologist Jeff Pritzl said.

The DNR says the biggest increase in the harvest came in the state’s two forest zones, with the central forest zone up nearly 20%. The central farmland zone, which includes much of Northeast Wisconsin, saw a 13.5% jump.

Snow cover at the start of the season made deer more visible. So did another successful harvest: 75% of the state’s corn had been gathered, leaving deer less cover.

“In general, everything was pointing in the right direction. Earlier opener, we had a mild winter last year. There may have been a little carryover as we talked about the 2021 season was just suppressed a little bit for a number of reasons, and so maybe we picked some of that up as carryover to this year,” Pritzl said.

Wisconsin again proved to be a hunting destination, representing a $2 billion economic impact on communities across the state.

That’s despite fewer hunters. License sales were down 1.6% from last year.

“This year we had all 50 states again represented in individuals coming from all 50 states, as well as 21 foreign countries. Put that into perspective, that’s quite incredible when you think about 21 countries sending individuals here, on their own accord obviously, that come to Wisconsin to go deer hunting.”

Antlerless and antler deer numbers were way up. Jeff Alexander dives into the numbers.