Early Data Shows Drop In Deer Hunters & Harvests

The Wisconsin DNR released the preliminary deer harvest and license sale totals for the opening weekend of the 2023 gun deer season.

Preliminary License Sales Data

Preliminary figures indicate the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin slightly decreased compared to 2022.

As of midnight Sunday, Nov. 19, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and conservation patron licenses reached 774,369. Of that total, 421,525 were for gun privileges only. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are down 0.61 percent from the same time last year.

The number of conservation patron licenses sold to date in 2023 is 1.5 percent higher than conservation patron licenses sold in 2022.

Of the total licenses sold, 65 percent were sold online, and 35 percent were sold in-person by DNR license agents and DNR service centers, which includes private businesses across the state.

Preliminary Registration Totals

In total, hunters registered 92,050 deer statewide during the opening weekend of the 2023 gun deer hunt, compared to 103,623 registered for the same period in 2022. This is a 16 percent decrease from 2022 and 10 percent below the 5-year average. A majority of the decrease was due to a decline in antlerless deer harvest, but that usually picks up over the second half of the season.

A total of 51,870 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 56,638 in 2022. This is a 13 percent decrease over 2022.

Conditions for opening weekend this year were mostly clear and dry. Mornings were cold, crisp and quiet. Temperatures increased quickly each day, which seemed to suppress both hunter and deer movement somewhat in the afternoons.

Reports of breeding behavior were still coming from across the state, however not as common as some may have hoped, given the early start to the season on the calendar. The comfortable conditions led to many hunters spending an enjoyable weekend in nature soaking in the sights, sounds and fresh air.

A forecasted drop in temperature and lack of precipitation during the second half of the gun season should mean good conditions for those that try to make the most out of the full nine days.