Deer Season Forecast

Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites and visiting non-residents eagerly await the arrival of the 2013 nine-day gun deer season, which runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1. To help prepare hunters for the season, Department of Natural Resources shares a season forecast, and tips for a successful hunt.

Nearly 10 percent of Wisconsin residents will take to the field for the annual hunt, along with thousands more who will participate by providing food, hotels, and other services. Deer hunting such an important part of the Wisconsin culture and economy,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. “It’s a tradition that many hunters and businesses look forward to all year long. We want to do our part to make sure the hunt is as fun, successful and safe as possible.”

The information is provided by DNR big game ecologist, Kevin Wallenfang, and the DNR. Download the full 2013 Fall Hunting & Trapping Forecast for more information.

The Opener

Forecasting this year’s hunt is a little tricky as there are several factors to consider that are the exact opposite of what was seen last year. 

Instead of a very early opener, we have a late opener which could see reduced rutting activity and unlike last year, we have some fairly wet conditions in many areas that could decrease hunter access.  Our late spring and wet conditions also mean there is still a fair amount of corn standing that will provide cover for deer.

Another thing to consider is that it isn’t looking like we’ll have snow anywhere in the state for opening day which may mean deer are more difficult to see.

Deer Population

Numbers wise, deer are abundant in many areas of the state, particularly in farmland regions.  However, the north woods have comparatively low deer numbers. 

Bowhunters have reported that they didn’t see many deer in some areas. This isn’t surprising considering the long winter we had that resulted in some direct losses of deer and lower than average fawn recruitment this spring.  As a result, the antlerless quotas in the north are the lowest they’ve been since the late 1990s.

Public Land

Deer populations throughout most of the farmland region of the state are strong especially on private lands.  Still, despite comparatively high deer numbers, farmland units can be difficult to hunt, especially for those spending their season on public lands where hunting pressure is often much higher than surrounding private properties. 

The good news is that Wisconsin has over 1 million acres of private lands open for public hunting in addition to millions more made up by state, national, and county forests. A recent DNR news release summarizes key ways to locate lands open to the public in Wisconsin.

Tips for a Successful Hunt

Even with increasing deer populations in many units, hunter success during the gun season can vary based on a wide range of factors. Hunter effort, weather events, rut activity, hunting pressure, and stand site locations in addition to deer numbers can all play influential roles in whether or not individual hunters see and harvest deer. Deer are not distributed evenly across the landscape and their movements vary greatly from one day to the next. Some hunters simply have access to better hunting and more deer. While some hunters will see lots of deer, their neighbor may struggle to even see deer for a variety of reason.

Another step hunters can take to increase their opportunities and enjoy their season is to take advantage of more days in the field.  There has been an increasing trend of hunters spending fewer days in the woods than in years past, often hunting just the opening weekend. Although deer sightings can be fewer after opening weekend, there are still deer to be hunted and the later part of the season can be more relaxing than the high pressure of opening weekend.

“It looks like we’ll have some comfortable hunting conditions that will allow people to stay in the woods and enjoy the hunt longer,” Wallenfang said. “We wish all hunters a very safe and enjoyable hunt”.

Visit the Department of Natural Resources website for more information on planning a successful hunt.

This entry was posted in Things to Do, Outdoor Fun, Hunting and tagged Features and Profiles