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Gun deer season outlook: deer could be out of 'normal' routine

Officials warn hunters about 'zombie' deer
Posted at 7:16 PM, Nov 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-09 20:16:25-05

GREENLEAF (NBC26) - “In November, we're either thinking about deer hunting or Packers,” said Jeff Priztl.

Hunters are anxiously waiting this year's gun deer opener. Last year, it was the earliest it could possibly be; now, it’s the latest, which only happens every 7 or 8 years. This means deer could be less active as we're further away from the peak of breeding season.

“In past years where we've gone through this switch, we've been able to see as much as a ten percent drop in buck harvest; and we can relate that to reduced buck activity,” Pritzl said who is a the district wildlife supervisor for the DNR.

As we countdown to the gun deer opener, Pritzl said buck harvest numbers are in line with last year, but antlerless are lagging. It's something that hunters will have to make up for starting November 23rd.

“I think it’s going to be a weird season with all this frozen. We've got so much water in the woods,” Scott Wolf said of Neenah.

Wet land met with colder temperatures mean deer may be feeding more; however with the weather making it harder for farmers to get crops off the field, deer may be using that to their advantage.
“There’s still going to be a lot of crops up and deer will be playing a lot of hide-and-go seek,” said Nathan Mrstik of Little Chute.

Pritzl does add the colder temperatures are helping water freeze over in some areas, but it'll be interesting to see just how much will do so.

“Between now and opening of gun season, it would behoove hunters to get out explore the areas a little bit and get a feel for it, because the conditions are not going to be typical this year,” he said.

The opportunity for harvest has increased this year, as several counties have extended the archery and crossbow season until the end of January. Many have added in a holiday hunt as well between Christmas and New Years.

The DNR reminds hunters to have their deer checked for chronic wasting disease. In 2020, they will be doing a blanket sampling throughout Northeast Wisconsin.