Fewer deer taken opening weekend of Wisconsin gun deer hunt

Hunters can look forward to more opportunities through the second weekend

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
At 10-years-old and on his first deer season hunt, Luke Wesolowski, of De Pere, shot his first deer Sunday morning while hunting with his mom, Renee Stein.

MADISON - By the time the sun set on opening weekend of Wisconsin's 166th gun deer season, more than 582,800 hunters had purchased their license and headed into the outdoors of the annual nine-day gun deer hunt in Wisconsin.

Although 587,440 licenses were sold last year, the total number of hunters that took to the field is very close to the number that purchased a license last year, the state saw approximately 6,200 additional non-residents choose to travel to Wisconsin to pursue one of their favorite activities.

Preliminary totals 

In total, 102,903 deer were registered through opening weekend of the gun deer hunt in 2017 compared to 116,615 in 2016 with 59,142 bucks registered, compared to 64,828 in 2016, according to figures compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Preliminary harvest numbers seem to correlate with weather reports that have been shared on the Wisconsin DNR's Facebook page as well as the reports hunters provided during the registration process with the northern part of the state experiencing much better hunting conditions corresponding with kill numbers generally consistent with last year.

By comparison, the southern part of the state experienced localized rain and higher winds and overall, the kill numbers are lower than last year. With the weather reports for the remainder of the gun deer hunt looking positive throughout most of Wisconsin, hunters can expect improved opportunities and are encouraged to head out to enjoy the remainder of the nine-day season hunting with family and friends.

These preliminary registration numbers provide a good indication that the local decision-making efforts of the County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) are paying off and having a positive impact on deer hunting opportunities.

For specific county and regional registration data, visit and search keywords "weekly totals."

Registration using GameReg

Hunters have embraced the change to the GameReg registration system with more than 62 percent of the registrations occurring via the internet with the remaining hunters utilizing the call-in phone option which also worked well for most hunters.

"Since the registration process is so critical to the management of Wisconsin's deer herd," Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, reminds "hunters who forgot to register their deer to complete this process, even if beyond the 5 p.m. deadline."

Hunters must register their deer by 5 p.m. the day after harvest. For more information, search keywords "gamereg."


DNR investigated three non-fatal hunting incidents (one each in Brown, Shawano and Forest counties) during opening weekend. Through the continued efforts of hunters and hunter education volunteers, Wisconsin remains a safe place to hunt, and hunters are reminded to follow the Four Rules of Firearm Safety (TAB-K):

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded;
  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction;
  • Be certain of your target and what's beyond it; and
  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
  • To learn more about safe hunting in Wisconsin, search keywords "safety tips."