Published December 02, 2009, 12:00 AM

Wisconsin DNR: Deer harvest drops in Douglas, Bayfield counties

Wisconsin’s gun deer harvest dropped 24 percent from last year in Douglas County and 33 percent in Bayfield County, said Greg Kessler, Department of Natural Resources wildlife manager at Brule.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

Wisconsin’s gun deer harvest dropped 24 percent from last year in Douglas County and 33 percent in Bayfield County, said Greg Kessler, Department of Natural Resources wildlife manager at Brule.

Statewide, the preliminary gun deer harvest was down 29 percent from last year, according to the DNR. Hunters registered 195,647 deer, down from a preliminary harvest of 276,895 last year.

Many hunters said they just didn’t see many deer during the nine-day season that ended Sunday.

Pat Kukull of Superior Shooters Supply was surprised the harvest was down as much as it was.

“What I saw myself [hunting in Bayfield County], we saw deer,” she said. “But everybody who’s come in says it’s down, it’s down. Some even got skunked.”

“They were all saying they only saw the one they got or they didn’t see any at all,” said Brenda Bell, who works at Jim’s Bait in Barnes.

Kessler said this year’s hunt needs to be kept in perspective.

“I keep hearing comments that it’s a poor harvest or a poor season,” Kessler said. “But if you look at the long-term history, this was not a poor season.”

Much of the drop in harvest was attributable to fewer permits being available to take antlerless deer, he said. The antlerless deer harvest dropped 40 percent in Douglas County and 46 percent in Bayfield County.

The buck harvest was down just 1 percent in Douglas County and 16 percent in Bayfield County, Kessler said.

Through last year, the DNR offered liberal numbers of antlerless permits to bring deer populations down to management goals.

“We’ve come off a decade or so of record-breaking harvests,” Kessler said. “Comparing to recent memory is a difficult comparison. Those were the best years anybody can remember. I don’t think it’s as much doom and gloom as most hunters say.”

Some hunters who didn’t get a buck during the regular gun deer season will be hunting the muzzleloader season, Kukull said.

“The traffic for blackpowder, it’s phenomenal,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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