MADISON -- The Wisconsin DNR reports this year's preliminary tally indicates 243,739 deer were registered by gun deer hunters between November 17th and 26th.
The preliminary nine-day harvest numbers are collected through a call-around survey of 600-plus deer registration stations all across Wisconsin and likely will increase when all registration tags are officially counted.
This year’s preliminary harvest totals are up 7.7% from 2011.
The preliminary tally showed hunters harvested 114, 822 bucks and 128,917 antlerless deer. This compared to 2011 preliminary harvest figures of 102,837 bucks and 123,423 antlerless, for a 12% and 4% increase respectively.
“Once again Wisconsin was the deer hunting destination for hundreds of thousands of hunters. Hunting is about family, friends, fun and tradition. More than 600,000 people were out connecting with the land, and in doing so renewed their commitment to sustaining our natural resources for generations to come,” DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said.
Of the total number of licenses purchased this year, nearly 29,000 were First Time Buyer licenses. New female hunters represented 33% of this total, and another 33% of first time buyers were youth, ages 17 and under. Additionally, 80 First Time Buyer licenses were sold to hunters 80 and older.
“Seeing so many new buyers, along with some returning or new hunters over the age of 80, illustrates how deep our deer hunting heritage runs. Getting women and youth involved in hunting is essential for continuing our state’s hunting heritage. When women and moms are involved, the family follows," Sec. Stepp said.
This year seven shooting related incidents were reported, one was fatal.
“Statistically we have continued our safe hunting tradition. But for me to truly consider a deer season a hundred percent successful, all hunters would have returned home unharmed, and that’s a goal we all should continue to strive for," Sec. Stepp said.
More than 25,000 students complete the hunter’s safety program every year, thanks to the work of more than 3,800 volunteer hunter education instructors. Wisconsin marked its one-millionth graduate in 2012. Before the hunter education course started, hunter fatalities during the season commonly ran into double digits.
Additional information on the 2012 deer season, and continuing deer hunting opportunities, can be found by visiting dnr.wi.gov, search keyword “deer.”