By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Hunters killed slightly more deer during opening weekend of Wisconsin’s standard nine-day gun season than last year, state wildlife officials said on Tuesday.
The Department of Natural Resources released data that shows hunters harvested 95,257 deer from Saturday morning through Sunday evening. That’s up about 2.3% from 93,155 during opening weekend in 2019. Hunters also killed more bucks, taking 49,025. That’s up about 1.6% from last year.
Agency officials attributed the bump in kills to excellent hunting conditions throughout the state over the weekend, with cool temperatures, high visibility and light winds. Light snow is expected across much of the state this week, which could further improve conditions.
The DNR said it had sold 559,591 licenses that allow hunters to take a deer with a gun as of midnight Monday, down 1.1% from 565,866 licenses sold during the same time last year.
The DNR’s gun licenses are valid for any of the department’s multiple deer gun seasons. The department doesn’t sell licenses unique to the traditional nine-day season.
The agency did not include in its release how many gun licenses had been sold over the same period last year.
Three hunters were hurt and one was killed over the weekend in incidents involving firearms.
The Washington Island Police Department said it appears 65-year-old Steven Hoogester of West Bend shot himself in the chest on Sunday while exiting a ground blind. The DNR said he tripped.
He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that Hoogester is the West Bend Common Council president.
The DNR said two people were shot during deer drives by hunting partners. The third hunter shot himself in the hand while cleaning his pistol.
Wisconsin has averaged about three opening weekend incidents over the last decade, DNR officials said.