Wisconsin firearms deer hunters had a busy opening weekend: 134,772 whitetails were registered on the first weekend of the nine-day season.
The Wisconsin DNR reports the statewide harvest is up more than 19 percent from 2011, with registrations rising in all regions. Buck registrations rose 24 percent.
It's possible that deer that typically would hang in Wisconsin camps for a few days were brought to towns and registered because of the warm weekend weather, perhaps accounting for the harvest increase, officials said.
Notwithstanding the higher harvest this opening weekend than last, some hunters in northern counties are reporting low deer sightings.
The DNR said in a press release Monday that almost 26,000 new hunters bought licenses to deer hunt for the first time, or for the first time in 10 years, this year. Females represented 32 percent of resident First Time Gun Deer licenses.
“I find this statistic particularly exciting. If we get the women involved in hunting, we get the family involved. It is so important to be getting youth out there in the tree stand. We will all be looking to them to keep our wonderful hunting heritage alive,” said Wisconsin DNR secretary Cathy Stepp. “But I also want to recognize that 66 first-time licenses were sold to hunters 80 and older. The involvement of so many generations in the deer hunt truly illustrates how deep the deer hunting tradition runs in Wisconsin.”
The DNR noted these facts about Wisconsin hunters in its press release:
• 614,435 Total Deer Gun Hunter, up 2 percent from last year
• Resident deer licenses (568,831) are up 1.5 percent
• Nonresident deer licenses (32,554) up 2 percent
• 10/11 year old Mentored Gun Deer licenses (13,050) are up 10 percent
• 60 percent of gun deer licenses were sold in the month of November
• Females represent 9.5 percent of total gun hunters
• 78,604 (or 13 percent) were youth (under age of 18)
• 61,276 (or 10 percent) were senior citizens (65 years of age and older)
• Hunters come to Wisconsin from all 50 states and several foreign countries
• 25,703 First Time Buyer Licenses were sold
• 13,511 resident gun deer
• 8,976 resident junior gun deer
• 3,216 nonresident gun deer
• 9,001, or 35 percent of First Time Buyers were youth (17 years of age and under)
Wisconsin will close two of its wolf trapping and hunting zones at the end of the day Friday, a day before the state's nine-day deer season begins.
A statewide total of 77 Wisconsin wolves have been killed since the start of wolf hunting and trapping in that state Oct. 15.
Wolf Harvest Zones 2 and 4 are the first zones in the state to be closed.
The Wisconsin DNR expects the state's wolf harvest to pick up during deer season.
“The harvest trend in Zone 2 has been steady while harvest in Zone 4, which is one wolf from quota, has been sporadic. We’ve watched trends and feel our best decision to make sure we don’t exceed quotas is to start the closure process today just prior to reaching quota, anticipating increased harvest rates with the opening of the nine-day deer hunt this weekend,” said Kurt Thiede, DNR Lands Division Administrator. “This is Wisconsin’s inaugural season. We are learning much about hunter and trapper success rates that will help us draft permanent rules that continue to move the wolf population down toward levels in line with biological and social carrying capacity.
“We will be considering harvest trends as we approach quotas in other zones as well. Our ultimate goal is to reduce the wolf population by 116 animals, distributed across the landscape,” said Thiede.
According to the Wisconsin DNR:
The state wolf harvest quota for Zone 2 was set at 20 and closure was initiated when 18 wolves were reported taken. The quota for Zone 4 was set at 5 and the closure process was initiated when 4 were harvested.
Wolf hunting and trapping will continue in Zones 1, 3, 5 and 6, but hunters and trappers are urged to watch harvest progress in Zones 1 and 5.
This was the scene at noon in the woods about 10 miles from Cook, Minn, on the deer opener Saturday.
We hunt dark to dark, hiking back into a series of swamps and other cover, hoping for a good buck.
Deer are hard to come by in these parts, however, and my brother, on the left of this photo, my son Cole, and my nephew, Brian, realize "you can't eat horns,'' as they say.
So we shoot what we can find, sooner or later, hoping to lay up some meat for the winter.
So far, we have one deer down, a big doe Dick shot at about 8:15.
It's been chilly, in the mid- to high 20s all morning. Often we start a fire at lunch to warm up. But we skipped it today.
The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission on Thursday voted to raise non-resident hunting fees, according to the Argus Leader newspaper of Sioux Falls.
The license-cost hikes will bring in another $1.1 million in 2013, the newspaper said.
Small game, or pheasant, licenses will rise $10 to $120 ($124 with agent fee). The license, as now, will be good for two five-day hunting periods.
Non-resident waterfowl licenses will rise by the same amount, also to $120, for a 10-day period.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat have been, or will be, lost in South Dakota, as grasslands, wetlands and other wild lands there are converted to row crops such as corn and soybeans.
Pheasant hunting in South Dakota this fall generally has been fair, with many opening day hunters reporting one bird to slightly more than that taken per day, on average.
In areas where habitat has been conserved, results have been much better. Curt Korzan, owner of Grand Slam Pheasant Hunts near Kimball, S.D., for instance, reports hunting on his operation, spreading over thousands of acres cultivated for pheasants, has been excellent.
The DNR has named Paul Telander of Bemidji its wildlife section chief, replacing Dennis Simon, who retired recently.
Telander is a 28-year wildlife management veteran who will assume his new post Dec. 5.
“Paul is an experienced wildlife manager and administrator who brings a strong track record of effectively working on complex wildlife management issues,” said Ed Boggess, division director.
Telander is now the regional wildlife manager for the DNR’s northwest region, and has been since 2005. He's also managed the 55,000 acre Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area.
“Paul has been a leader in addressing some very difficult and high profile issues such as elk management, bovine tuberculosis and Con-Con land issues,” Boggess said. “He will be able to put that experience and skill to good use in working through broader statewide wildlife and habitat management issues.”
As wildlife section chief, Telander will oversee a $47.2 million annual wildlife section budget and a staff of 220 full-time and 81 part-time employees.
Telander holds a BS in wildlife management from the University of Minnesota.