REGIONAL— Hunting conditions improved significantly in the second week of the firearms deer season, but whitetail deer registrations remain well behind last year’s pace ahead of the final …
REGIONAL— Hunting conditions improved significantly in the second week of the firearms deer season, but whitetail deer registrations remain well behind last year’s pace ahead of the final weekend of the season.
As of Nov. 17, hunters in the Tower DNR work area had registered 3,812 deer, down 17 percent from the same period last year. The buck harvest is down 16.4 percent over 2019, which likely reflects a lower population.
“The buck kill is the best indicator of population change over time,” noted Tom Rusch, Tower DNR wildlife manager. Recent severe winters, with months of deep snow cover, have affected both winter survival of deer as well as limited the reproductive potential of female deer, according to wildlife managers. Rusch noted that the buck harvest is down most sharply in permit areas on the north and east sides of the Tower work area, reflecting the impact of deeper snow in recent years than experienced in areas to the south and west.
Meanwhile, the antlerless harvest was down 20 percent compared to last year, most likely reflecting the reduction in the number of antlerless permits issued this season.
The record-setting warm temperatures over opening weekend likely impacted hunter success, by limiting deer movements, which typically peak in early-to-mid November as part of the annual rut. Bucks are typically highly active during that period, but they risk overheating in the kind of temperatures the area experienced opening weekend, which likely reduced their activity.
But temperatures in the 60s were quickly replaced by the fourth day of the season with sub-freezing highs and 5-9 inches of fresh snow around the area. The colder temperatures increased daytime buck activity and provided hunters better visibility in the woods.
Rusch noted the temperature contrast between the opening weekend this year, when temperatures reached the upper 60s in many areas, versus the minus-16 degree temperatures that greeted hunters for opening day last year.
On a statewide basis, hunters had registered 157,126 deer as of Monday, including 85,013 bucks and 72,113 antlerless deer.