Hunters Rebound in 2020 Gun Hunt; Harvest Numbers Rise Nearly 16%

Preliminary figures show that hunters registered 188,712 deer during the nine-day gun deer hunt, including 85,340 antlered and 103,372 antlerless deer. Since archery season opened Sept. 12, hunters have registered 305,171 deer statewide, showing the growing impact of earlier seasons on cumulative harvest.

Deer harvest trends since the beginning of the archery season were above 2019 levels, and this trend continued through the gun deer season. Compared to 2019, the total nine-day gun deer harvest was up 15.8% statewide, with buck harvest up 12.2% and antlerless harvest up 19%. All management zones showed harvest increases from 2019. 

Current deer harvest totals have surpassed the total deer harvested in 2019, but harvest trends lag behind 2018, which had the highest total deer harvest since 2013. While many southern farmland zone counties saw double-digit increases in the buck harvest, the harvest was not evenly distributed across the state.

A number of units in the northern forest zone including Ashland, Florence, Forest, Iron, Lincoln, Marinette and Price counties, experienced another year of declining buck harvest during the nine-day gun deer season. However, total buck harvest in those counties appears to be similar compared to 2019 harvest for the same period.

While opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with some snow in the northwest, DNR staff across the state reported excellent hunting conditions and weather throughout the season except for a day or two of rain and wind midweek.

Harvest numbers will climb as hunters enjoy additional hunting opportunities:

  • Nov. 30-Dec. 9: Statewide muzzleloader hunt
  • Dec. 10-13: Statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt;
  • Dec. 24-Jan. 1, 2021: Nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties;
  • Now until Jan. 3, 2021: Remaining archery and crossbow seasons; and
  • Jan. 4-31, 2021: 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. For more information regarding hunts offered in each county, check out our interactive deer map here.

Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after recovery at 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 here. A 2010-20 comparison of preliminary nine-day gun deer season registration totals is also available online.