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Opening Weekend Deer Harvest in Wisconsin Drops 16% Due to Lack of Snow


Challenges of a Snowless Hunt: Wisconsin’s Deer Season Sees 16% Drop, With Lack of Snow and Warmth Impacting Harvest and Safety

The lack of snow played a significant role in the 16% drop in deer kill during Wisconsin’s nine-day gun season opening weekend, with 92,050 deer registered compared to 103,623 in 2022. (Photo: apnews)

Impact of Snowless Conditions on Wisconsin’s Deer Season: Lack of Snow and Warmth Pose Challenges for Hunters and Deer Movement

According to source, the opening weekend of Wisconsin’s nine-day gun season saw a 16% drop in deer kill compared to last year, with hunters registering 92,050 deer, down from 103,623 in 2022. Warm temperatures and the absence of snow, a significant contributing factor, made deer harder to spot. Reports highlighted that the lack of snow, coupled with abundant acorns, reduced the need for deer to move in search of food. Despite similar numbers of potential hunters, with 774,369 deer licenses sold, a slight decrease of 0.61% from the previous year, the notable harvest decline was exacerbated by the lack of snow, particularly in northern Wisconsin, which experienced severe winter conditions the prior year, potentially impacting deer mortality.

Jeff Pritzl, the DNR’s deer specialist, suggested that the lack of snow helped deer blend into the landscape, making them harder to spot, while warmer temperatures further discouraged movement. Anecdotal evidence supported this, noting that the lack of snow contributed to deer staying stationary, and acorns provided ample food without requiring extensive movement.

Although the opening weekend accounts for about half of the total season harvest, officials are hopeful for increased deer movement with cooler temperatures and dry weather forecasted for the remainder of the nine-day season. Last year’s nine-day gun season recorded 203,295 deer kills, and the current pace suggests a potential harvest of 184,100 deer this season.

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Visibility Challenges and Safety Concerns: Firearm Injuries Highlight Risks Amidst Lack of Snow During Wisconsin’s Hunting Weekend

In addition to the hunting statistics, two firearm-related injuries were reported over the weekend. A 53-year-old man in Forest County accidentally shot himself while adjusting his rifle sling, emphasizing the challenging conditions exacerbated by the lack of snow. Similarly, a 62-year-old man in Adams County, hunting from a vehicle, mistakenly shot a woman who was walking a dog, thinking it was a deer, underlining the impact of the lack of snow on visibility.

The injured woman was taken to the hospital, and while the disabled hunter is legally allowed to hunt from a vehicle, the incident is under investigation. The DNR reported six firearm-related hunting injury incidents during the 2022 gun season, three of which were self-inflicted wounds.

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