MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The head of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation said the gun deer hunting season created more success and more positive attitudes by hunters.
George Meyer said the deer population had obviously increased. And he said there was a different tone from recent years, when hunters complained about the way the DNR managed the herd.
The state issued preliminary figures Tuesday, showing that almost 244,000 deer were shot during the nine-day gun season that ended Sunday. That was up 7.7 percent from a year ago. And the buck harvest was up 12 percent.
The numbers of hunters rose, too, thanks to a lower-priced license for first-timers. About 29,000 new hunters took advantage of that – and the total of 633,000 deer licenses was up 2 percent from a year ago.
At least 7 people were shot in hunting accidents, but that was down from the average of 9 over the past decade.
One hunter near Superior was killed by a partner who mistook him for a deer. Another hunter was found shot to death at Fort McCoy, and the Army was still investigating at last word.
Still, the DNR said hunters had a lot to be proud about. The agency did more to reach out to hunters this year, by scrapping the much-criticized Earn-a-Buck program, and stressing the deer hunt’s traditions.
In announcing the harvest totals, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp praised those who were, “out connecting with the land.” She said the hunt is all about fun, family, friends, and traditions – and besides the harvest, the season also generated new stories for those folks to share.