State sets record for three fatality-free firearms deer seasons

Wisconsin’s 576,000 gun-deer hunters participated in one of the safest seasons on record, with just three minor hunting-related injuries reported statewide.

This was the third season in a row with no fatalities, a record in the state’s long deer hunting legacy.

Hunters bagged 211,430 deer during the nine-day season, up 7 percent from last season, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported. That included 104,388 bucks (up 5.4 percent) and 107,042 antlerless deer (up 8.4 percent).

The Central Farmland Zone (including Shawano and Waupaca counties, which were second and third in county harvests, respectively) topped the zone harvest list with 51,093 bucks (15 percent increase from 2017) and 63,195 antlerless (up 7.4 percent).

It was feast or famine in our area, with several hunters reporting few deer sightings and shots, while others had their pick of bucks. At least two hunters told me it was their worst season in years. Another hunter told me he had seen about 60 deer opening weekend, and was still waiting for the right buck before he’d start shooting does.

Hunters have many more opportunities for venison, with the muzzleloader season continuing through Wednesday, the statewide antlerless season Dec. 6-9, the antlerless Holiday Hunt Dec. 24-Jan. 1 in Waupaca, Oconto, Brown, Outagamie and several other counties, and continuation of the bow/crossbow season Dec. 10-Jan. 6. Outagamie and Oconto counties have an extended bow/crossbow season through Jan. 31.

Good luck and be safe!

— Ross Bielema, correspondent