The 2021 nine-day gun deer hunt in Wisconsin kicked off the holiday season with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, put delicious, wild-harvested protein on the table and make memories with family and friends. Preliminary license sales, harvest registration and hunting incident numbers are now available.
Preliminary License Sales Totals
As of 11:59 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 808,224. Of that total, 564,440 were for gun privileges, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are down 1.5% from the same time last year.
Of the licenses sold to date, 60% of licenses were purchased online. The remaining 40% were sold in-person through transactions at DNR license agents locations. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons.
Preliminary Registration Totals
Preliminary figures show that hunters registered 175,667 deer during the 2021 nine-day gun deer hunt, including 84,952 antlered and 90,715 antlerless deer. Since archery seasons opened Sept. 18, hunters have registered 270,046 deer statewide, showing the growing influence of earlier seasons on cumulative harvest.
Compared to 2020, the total firearm deer harvest was down 7.9% statewide, with buck harvest down 1.3% and antlerless harvest down 13.2%.
The Northern Forest management zone showed harvest increases from 2020 for both antlered and antlerless kills, while the other three zones showed declines in harvest. The Central Forest (-3.0%) and Central Farmland (-8.9%) had similar declines in total harvest from 2020 levels, while the Southern Farmland showed a larger decline in total harvest of 17.0%.
Adams County’s Central Farmland led the state with over nine deer registered per square mile. Vernon County led the Southern Farmland Zone with almost six deer registered per square mile. Oneida registered the most per square mile in the Northern Forest Zone at 4.5, and Eau Claire’s Central Forest registered almost 3.5 deer per square mile.
While opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with some snow in the north, DNR staff across the state reported good weather throughout the season. Snow cover and frozen wetlands would have improved visibility and access for hunters.
For the firearm deer hunt, the 2021 regional harvest breakdown by deer management zone, with percentage change from 2020, included:
• Northern Forest Zone: Antlered: 19,602 (14.9%); Antlerless: 12,595 (1.7%)
• Central Forest Zone: Antlered: 3,307 (-1.7%); Antlerless: 2,460 (-4.7%)
• Central Farmland Zone: Antlered: 44,610 (-1.8%); Antlerless: 54,909 (-14.0%)
• Southern Farmland Zone: Antlered: 17,433 (-13.8%); Antlerless: 20,751 (-19.5%)
• Total Preliminary Harvest Registrations: Antlered: 84,952 (-1.3%); Antlerless: 90,715 (-13.2%); Total: 175,667 (-7.9%)
Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after recovery at gamereg.wi.gov or by calling 1-844-426-3734. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline.
More information regarding preliminary registration totals, including county-level numbers, is available on the DNR website here.
A 2010-21 comparison of preliminary nine-day gun deer season registration totals is also available online.
Harvest numbers will climb as hunters enjoy additional hunting opportunities:
• Nov. 29 – Dec. 8: Statewide muzzleloader hunt
• Dec. 9-11: Statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt
• Dec. 24 – Jan. 1, 2022: Nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties
• Now to Jan. 9, 2022: Remaining archery and crossbow seasons
• Jan. 10-31, 2022: Extended archery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties
Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless harvest authorization during any of these hunts, but they must be used in the zone, county and land type designated on the harvest authorization. More information regarding hunts offered in each county and an interactive deer map is available on the DNR website.
Nine-Day Season Hunting Incidents
At the time of this news release, the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reports five firearm-involved injuries and one fatality for the entire 2021 nine-day gun deer season.
• Door County, Town of Brussel: On Nov. 20, 2021, at approximately 6:45 a.m., a 40-year-old male suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the hand. The victim had placed his hand on the muzzle after pulling the hammer back on his firearm. The victim believed he pulled the trigger, and the bullet struck his left pinky. He sought medical attention, was treated and released.
• Door County, Sturgeon Bay: On Nov. 21, 2021, at approximately 7 a.m., a 10-year-old male was the victim of a gunshot wound. A 45-year-old male shooter was hunting from his residence when he shot at a deer. The shooter attempted to unload his firearm, at which time it discharged inside of the house and struck the victim. The victim was transported to a hospital and treated.
• Waukesha County, Town of Ottawa: On Nov. 21, 2021, at approximately 6:21 a.m., a 30-year-old male suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg. The victim was in a tree stand when he tried to hang the gun on a hanger. The gun discharged, striking him in the right leg. The victim was transported to a hospital and treated.
• Juneau County, Town of Seven Mile Creek: On Nov. 22, 2021 at approximately 4 p.m., a 57-year-old male was the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg. The victim had a loaded firearm, and it discharged in the proximity of his ATV. The victim drove to the hospital and was treated.
• Iron County, Town of Saxon: On Nov. 23, 2021 at approximately 4:28 p.m., a 65-year-old male was the victim of a gunshot wound to the chest. A second 65-year-old male shooter was moving and knocked over his firearm, causing the firearm to hit the ground and discharge. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
• Marathon County, Town of Rib Falls: On Nov. 26, 2021 at approximately 5:15 a.m., a 65-year-old male suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The victim was loading a pistol when his finger slipped off the hammer, causing the gun to fire and strike him in the ankle. The victim was transported to the hospital for treatment.
As part of this push for safe hunting, wardens remind all hunters to use the four firearm safety rules as a cornerstone for safe and successful outings:
• T – Treat every Firearm as if it is loaded;
• A – Always Point the muzzle in a safe direction;
• B – Be certain of your target, what’s in front of it and what’s beyond it;
• K – Keep your finger outside your trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
More tips for safe hunting in Wisconsin is available on the DNR website.
Hunters Encouraged to Submit Deer for Chronic Wasting Disease Sampling
Hunters can find CWD sampling options throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons. Thanks to generous contributions from numerous partners, the Adopt-a-Kiosk and Adopt-a-Dumpster programs gave hunters additional options to submit their harvested deer for CWD sampling and safely dispose of carcasses.
The cooperation of hunters and private businesses has become increasingly vital to the success of our sampling process. DNR staff would like to thank all those who continue to assist with CWD surveillance.
Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey Remains Open Through Remaining Seasons
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey will remain active until all deer seasons have ended, and wildlife managers ask that hunters submit a report of what they observe during their time in the field. This information provides valuable data to improve population estimates for Wisconsin’s deer herd and other species. Additional information is available on the DNR website.
First Harvest and First Experience Certificates Will Help Hunters Remember Time in the Outdoors for Years to Come
Hunters of all ages who head out for their first hunt are encouraged to mark the occasion by creating a first harvest and first hunting experience certificate, available on the DNR website.