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Buck kill off markedly YOY for Pierce, St. Croix counties

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Early harvest figures released by the Wisconsin DNR Tuesday afternoon indicate gun-deer hunters overcame the cold weather on the opener and killed nearly as many does as in 2012 but the buck harvest was down 14 percent in St. Croix- and 18 percent in Pierce County.

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Pierce County's totals were 1405 bucks in 2013 versus 1708 last year, and 2,600 does versus 2,512 last year. In St. Croix, there were 952 bucks taken versus 1,102 last year, and 1,470 does shot, versus 1,480 recorded last year.

By the second half of the week, hunters found much more favorable conditions and put it to good use.

“It was downright brutal out there early in the week and the opening weekend totals reflected that,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist who spent most of the week hunting and working in Vilas County. “Feedback from our deer hunter wildlife survey shows that, not surprisingly, hunters themselves felt the weather during the first half of the season ranked the poorest they’ve seen in the five years that we’ve done this survey.”

This year’s preliminary harvest totals indicate a total of 226,582 deer were killed, down 7 percent from 2012’s call-in numbers.

The preliminary tally showed hunters harvested 97,765 bucks and 128,817 antlerless deer. This compared to 2012 call-in registration figures of 114,822 bucks and 128,917 antlerless, for a 15 percent decrease in the buck kill, while the antlerless kill was almost exactly the same as 2012.

Preliminary harvest numbers were down opening weekend throughout the state showing a total decrease of about 18 percent, due in part to the cold and windy conditions.

The preliminary nine-day harvest numbers are collected through a call-around survey of over 600 deer registration stations all across Wisconsin and likely will increase when all registration tags are officially counted, Wallenfang said.

According to Wallenfang, DNR anticipated lower numbers in the north and hunter feedback confirmed it. He added that antlerless permit numbers across the north are at the lowest levels seen since the 1990s and a reduced antlerless harvest was expected this year.

Neighboring states of Michigan and Minnesota saw similar conditions both during their hunts and last winter, and both have reported a comparatively lower deer harvest this fall.

The muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 11. The late archery season is also underway and continues until Jan. 5, 2014. There is also a statewide antlerless hunt Dec. 12 to Dec. 15, and a holiday hunt in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) zones of south central Wisconsin, which starts Dec. 24 and runs until Jan. 5, 2014.

For county by county results statewide, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/Opening_and_9-Day_Call-In_2013_FIN.pdf

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Steve Dzubay
Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer since 1995. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.
(715) 426-1054
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