2022 preliminary gun deer harvest totals, license sales
Preliminary harvest totals and license sales are now available for the 2022 gun deer season. / Stock photo provided by Wisconsin DNR
By Wisconsin DNR
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the preliminary deer harvest and license sale totals for the opening weekend of the 2022 gun deer season.
The regular gun deer season continues through Nov. 27, followed by the statewide muzzleloader season (Nov. 28 – Dec. 7), the statewide antlerless-only four-day season (Dec. 8-11) and antlerless holiday hunts in select farmland zone counties later in December.
Wisconsin continues to be a destination location for hunting white-tailed deer. People of all backgrounds search out the great public and private land hunting opportunities across the state to pursue deer, make memories and put a sustainable protein source on their table.
Preliminary license sales data
Preliminary figures indicate that the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin decreased compared to 2021.
As of midnight Sunday, Nov. 20, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 779,123. Of that total, 421,474 were for gun privileges only. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are down 2% from the same time last year.
The number of conservation patron licenses sold to date in 2022 is 2.2% higher than all conservation patron licenses sold in 2021.
Of the total licenses sold, 62% were sold online, and 38% were sold in-person by DNR license agents and DNR service centers, which includes private businesses across the state.
Final license sales figures will be available in January, at which time DNR staff will perform a thorough analysis and interpretation.
Preliminary registration totals and future outlook
In total, 102,347 deer were registered statewide during the opening weekend of the 2022 gun deer hunt, compared to the 85,860 registered for the same period in 2021. This is a 15% increase over 2021 and is on par with the average opening weekend harvest.
A total of 55,503 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 47,529 in 2021. This is a 14% increase over 2021 and is 2% above the 5-year average.
Conditions for opening weekend this year included some snow cover but were cold with high winds, particularly on Saturday, which suppressed some hunter activity. Conditions improved slightly on Sunday, but wind chill was still a factor in some parts of the state.
Despite the challenging conditions, hunters saw good deer movement overall, with some evidence of bucks still showing breeding behavior.
Throughout the state, warming temperatures during the week will likely lead to a loss of the snow cover in parts of the state. Where it doesn’t melt completely, it will result in crunchy conditions from daytime melting and refreezing at night. Beyond the potential for rain on Thanksgiving Day, conditions should be great for hunting during the remainder of the gun deer season.
Registration of deer required with GameReg
As a reminder, hunters are required to register their deer by 5 p.m. the day after recovery through GameReg, the game registration system. Harvested deer may be registered in one of three ways:
• Online: gamereg.wi.gov (fastest and easiest method)
• Phone: 1-844-426-3734 [When prompted, use your phone keypad to spell the first three letters of the county. For example, a registrant in Adams County would spell A-D-A by pressing “232.”]
• In-Person: Find a station that offers a phone or computer for registration through the online hunting resources stations portal.
Opening weekend hunting incidents
At the time this was published, the DNR reported six firearm-involved incidents during the opening weekend, Nov. 19-20, including two in the Northwoods.
• Oneida County, Little Rice Township: On Nov. 19, 2022, at approximately 1:30 p.m., a 24-year-old male suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the foot. The victim was repairing his rifle sling when his hand froze to the firearm. As he pulled his hand off the firearm, he hit the trigger, causing an unwanted discharge. The victim received medical treatment for injury.
• Forest County, Town of Hiles: On Nov. 20, 2022, in the afternoon hours, a 33-year-old male suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his little finger. The victim was manipulating his handgun when it discharged. The victim was treated for the injury.
Wardens remind all hunters to always use the four firearm safety rules as a cornerstone for safe and successful outings:
T – Treat every firearm as if it is loaded
A – Always point the muzzle in a safe direction
B – Be certain of your target, what’s before it and what’s beyond it
K – Keep your finger outside your trigger guard until you are safe to shoot.