The number of deer killed in Chippewa County since Saturday’s opening of the nine-day firearms hunting season have fallen a sharp 40.7 percent from 2015. The state Department of Natural Resources released preliminary estimates of the opening weekend harvest on Monday evening.
Hunters in Chippewa County appear to be much more picky about the deer they kill. The number of bucks taken actually slightly increased, from 894 to 901.
But the number of antlerless deer, including does, that were killed plummeted from 1,215 in 2015 to 369 this year. That’s a decrease of 846 deer, a fall of 69.6 percent.
DNR officials were not available for comment on why the deer kill numbers were dramatically different this year in Chippewa County.
Neighboring counties didn’t experience nearly as sharp a dropoff as Chippewa County.
For instance, the deer kill in Eau Claire County fell by seven deer, from 1,009 to 1,002. In Dunn County, the decrease was 8 percent, from 3,054 to 2,810. A similar percentage decrease was recorded in Clark County, where the deer kill went from 1,895 to 1,744.
Throughout Wisconsin, hunters killed about 5 percent fewer deer during opening weekend.
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The figures show hunters killed 114,472 deer compared with 120,276 deer last year.
The harvest was down in three of the state’s four management zones. The only zone that saw an increase was the northern forest, where hunters killed 19,335 animals compared with 15,274 last year.
That’s a good sign for DNR game managers, who have been restricting antlerless kills in the region in hopes of rebuilding a herd devastated by harsh winters in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
Hunters killed slightly more antlered deer statewide, taking 63,700 this year compared with 62,903 last year.
Associated Press contributed to this story.