License sales and harvest numbers for gun deer season are both up over last year's numbers, according to preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Initial figures show that the number of hunters that have taken to the woods this year has increased over 2019 and 2018. Sales for all deer licenses are up 3.2% over 2019. Through Nov. 23, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses have exceeded 810,000, with more than 559,000 specifically for gun privileges.
The largest increased demographic is females, as the number of female hunters rose 9% to nearly 90,000 license sales. The one decrease in sales was for non-resident licenses, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Final figures will be provided by the DNR in January.
The nine-day gun deer season runs through Nov. 29. The muzzleloader season is Nov. 30 through Dec. 9. There is also a three-day state-wide antlerless-only season from Dec. 10-13.
Opening weekend sees increased harvest
Through the opening weekend of deer hunting, there was more than 95,000 deer harvested in the state, more than 2,000 most than in 2019. A total of 49,025 bucks were killed in the state.
Locally, Barron County hunters registered 1,962 deer on opening weekend, with 904 of those being bucks. Year-to-date, there have been 4,172 harvested deer, including 2,052 antlered, for the 2020 season in Barron County.
Most regions of the state saw excellent hunting conditions, the DNR said. Cool temperatures, high visibility and low wind helped in providing a successful harvest so far.
Farmland zones across the state saw increases in harvest registrations, while the northern and central forests regions showed decreased numbers over a year ago.
Four hunting incidents on opening weekend
The DNR reported that four hunting incidents occurred during the opening weekend of deer hunting.
In Washburn County, a 62-year-old male victim was hit in the upper arm and face by a rifle round. The victim and the 19-year-old shooter were each part of a deer drive. A 14-year-old in Saint Croix County was also the victim of a hunting incident during a deer drive. The male child was struck in the leg by a shotgun slug. He was taken to the hospital, treated and released. In Adams County, a 40-year-old male was working on his pistol when it discharged into his hand.
A Door County 65-year-old male was killed when he tripped exiting his blind and his gun was discharged into his chest.
On average over the past 10 years, Wisconsin has had three hunting incidents for the first two days of hunting.
The DNR reminds hunters to treat every firearm as if it's loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be certain of your target and keep your finger on the outside of the trigger guard until it is safe to shoot.