Nearly 5,000 more K/D deer now in freezers
Gun deer hunters on the Kewaunee/Door County Peninsula reported almost 5,000 whitetails during the nine-day season, a total sure to swell in the coming days and weeks.
The reason? Not only is the 10-day muzzleloader hunt on through next Wednesday, it’s immediately followed by a four-day, antlerless-only gun deer hunt.
In addition, the DNR is asking those who forgot to report their harvest to do so now, even days or a week or more after the kill. The grace period is because wardens and biologists know it’s happening, often by accident.
A hunter who doesn’t immediately use a smartphone to register a deer, for example, may write in the date and check the type of deer (and a.m. or p.m.) on the new paper tags and then head home with best intentions to call it in or go online later, or certainly by the required 5 p.m. the day after.
But, a day or two goes by and oops, they remember, and now don’t want to report it for fear of a fine.
It happened to me more than once with turkeys after the state abandoned in-person registration years ago, and I did it again last week with deer, even after being reminded by a member of my group to register the healthy 8-pointer. Feeling foolish but not wanting to not report it — and by the time I remembered, the season was done for two days, so I couldn’t even fudge the day of harvest — I asked someone within DNR, and was assured there would be no fine for anyone who forgot, and that staff was aware of the issue and put this into a news release earlier this week:
“Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline.”
So, there’s at least one Kewaunee County buck (and probably more) missing from the reported 886 bucks taken during the Nov. 19-27 gun hunt. Add in 1,324 antlerless, and the county total was 2,210.
The buck kill was down 90 and the antlerless up 236 from last year, but gale winds opening day no doubt kept the harvest lower than it could have been if conditions were ideal.
The Door numbers included 1,231 bucks and 1,514 antlerless, a total of 2,745. The buck kill was down 120 and antlerless harvest up nearly 200 from a year ago.
Including the youth gun and archery and crossbow seasons, almost 7,000 deer have been harvested from the K/D Peninsula this year.
There were 598,867 licenses sold through the end of the nine-day season, the fewest since 1976.
While a decline in hunters has been predicted for more than a decade, no doubt some of it could be former gun-only hunters that now took up the crossbow. They enjoy the more than 100 days of opportunity that provides, including the ability to use it right during the gun season.
The preliminary harvest figures showed an increase of more than 5 percent in the gun buck kill (97,892) but a 6 percent drop in the antlerless harvest (98,893).
The biggest increase in buck kill (30 percent) came in the northern forest zone after back-to-back ultra-mild winters and limited antlerless tags.
It was a relatively safe hunt, with five nonfatal hunting incidents in Waukesha, Oconto, Ozaukee and Taylor counties. Five out of the past 10 deer seasons were fatality-free, and nine out of the past 10 involved single-digit incidents.
The muzzleloader season and metro zone gun hunts are open through Dec. 7, and the archery and crossbow season is open through Jan. 8 (Jan. 31 in metro units). A four-day antlerless-only hunt will take place in farmland units Dec. 8-11.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be reached at [email protected] or 920-883-9792.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Nearly 5,000 more K/D deer now in freezers