MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin deer hunters bagged fewer deer on the opening weekend of the gun season than they did a year ago, wildlife officials said Tuesday.
The state Department of Natural Resources said hunters shot more than 85,800 deer, about 14,000 fewer than the traditional opener last year. That's a decrease of 14% overall. Hunters shot 7% fewer bucks than a year ago.
The number of deer shot in the northern woods was up by 9%. Those gains were offset by lower numbers in other zones, particularly the southern farmland area, where registrations were down 24%, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
More hunters are opting for archery, crossbow and earlier seasons, according to Jeff Pritzl, DNR deer program specialist. Overall hunters have registered more than 179,000 deer so far this year.
"We have seen more of a shift to earlier opportunities," Pritzl said. "More people had already put a deer in the freezer."
Pritzl said relatively cool, dry weather should make for favorable conditions for the remainder of the 9-day season.
"The season is still young," he said. "Opportunities continue to abound."