Janesville51.4°

Fewer deer killed locally during gun season

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Ted Sullivan
December 5, 2009

Hunters in Rock and Walworth counties killed about one-third fewer deer during November's nine-day gun season than in 2008.


Hunters said the decrease is due to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources mismanagement of the deer herd because it has overestimated the deer population.


DNR officials said the decrease was due to weather conditions, standing corn and a smaller herd.


In Rock County, the DNR reported 1,084 deer killed this year, compared to 1,579 in 2008, a drop of 31.3 percent.


In Walworth County, 532 deer were killed this year, compared to 719 in 2008, a drop of 26 percent.


Bob Wolfram of Janesville is a self-described hunting addict who has been bow or gun hunting 50 or 60 days this year.


"I really believe they've grossly overestimated the herd," Wolfram said of the DNR. "In Rock County, I think I've hunted 11 times, and I didn't see a deer. It's amazing."


The DNR should stop allowing Rock County hunters to shoot an unlimited number of bucks if they shoot an antlerless deer first, he said.


The program has reduced the deer herd too much, Wolfram said.


"I talked to a lot of guys, and everybody said the same thing," he said. "They did not see deer to harvest."


Mike Foy, the DNR wildlife supervisor for Rock County, said several factors contributed to fewer deer getting harvested.


Aggressive chronic wasting disease management has reduced the herd 3 percent a year, resulting in a smaller harvest, he said.


Nearly half of the county's corn was still standing, Foy said, and cornfields gave deer a place to hide.


The decrease can largely be attributed to far fewer antlerless deer being harvested, while the number of bucks harvested dropped only slightly, he said. Many hunters carried over buck tags earned in 2008 and didn't need to kill an antlerless deer first.


Tim Lizotte, DNR wildlife supervisor for Walworth County, said warm temperatures also caused deer to move less because they didn't need as much food.


He said many dense pockets of deer are on inaccessible, private land.


"There's certainly deer out there, but under a lower population it's going to take more hunter hours and more scouting to harvest a deer," Lizotte said "It's certainly going to be more of a challenge."


Statewide, the DNR reported 195,647 deer harvested, compared to 276,895 in 2008, a 29.3 percent drop.



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