Northern Wis. hunters bag more deer on opening weekend

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Northern Wisconsin deer hunters bucked the statewide trend on opening weekend by taking more deer than last year.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, the total deer harvest for the first weekend of the nine-day gun season was up in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, and Sawyer counties. It was slightly down in Washburn County.

Ashland County had the third-highest harvest increase in the state at 35.7%, with 418 deer killed on this year’s opening weekend. Burnett County had the north’s largest total opening weekend harvest at 1,500.

Despite an average 9% increase across the 19-county northern forest region from last year, the regional harvest was still down 19% compared with an average of the previous five deer openers. Declines in the number of deer killed in other parts of the state led to an overall statewide decrease of 14% since last year, with 85,860 deer registered.

Two hunters in Door County and one in Waukesha County were injured on opening weekend. The wounds were self-inflicted in two cases, and in the third, the firearm discharged while the hunter was attempting to unload it.

The regular gun deer season continues through Nov. 28, followed by the statewide muzzleloader season from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 and the statewide antlerless-only four-day season from Dec. 9 to 12.

DNR officials say more hunters are opting for archery, crossbow and earlier seasons. Overall, hunters have registered more than 179,000 deer so far this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.