The 2023 gun deer hunt in Wisconsin kicked off the holiday season with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, put delicious, wild-harvested protein on the table and make memories with family and friends. Preliminary license sales, harvest registration and hunting incident numbers are now available.
Preliminary License Sales Data
As of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, November 26th, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and conservation patron licenses reached 788,697. Of that total, 434,817 were for gun privileges only. Year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are down 0.8% compared to last year.
This year, hunters from all 50 states and 27 countries purchased a Wisconsin hunting license.
Of the licenses sold to date, 66% were purchased online. The remaining 34% were sold in person through transactions at DNR license sale locations. Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue through the remaining deer hunting seasons.
Preliminary Harvest Totals
Preliminary figures show hunters registered 173,942 deer during the 2023 gun deer season, including 85,390 antlered and 88,552 antlerless deer. Compared to 2022, the total firearm deer harvest was down 17.6% statewide, with the antlered harvest down 14.7% and the antlerless harvest down 20.3%.
Since the opening of the bow and crossbow seasons, hunters have registered 266,132 statewide so far this year.
Adams County in the Central Farmland Zone led the state with 9.7 deer registered per square mile. Adams County also led the Central Forest Zone with 3.5 deer per square mile. Vernon County led the Southern Farmland Zone with 6.7 deer registered per square mile. Taylor County registered the most deer per square mile, 2.7, in the Northern Forest Zone.
For the 2023 gun deer season, the regional harvest breakdown by deer management zone as compared to the 5-year average was as follows:
The DNR’s Wisconsin Deer Harvest Summary webpage has more information regarding preliminary harvest registration totals, including county-level numbers.
The regular gun deer season ran from November 18th through November 26th, and is followed by the statewide muzzleloader season (November 27th-December 6th), the statewide antlerless-only four-day hunt (December 7th-December 10th), and the antlerless-only holiday hunt in select farmland zone counties (December 24th, 2023-January 1st, 2024).
First Harvest Certificates Available
Hunters of all ages who harvested their first deer are encouraged to highlight this significant occasion with a First Harvest Certificate.
2023 Gun Deer Season Hunting Incidents
At the publication time of this news release, the DNR reports three firearm-involved hunting incidents during the 2023 gun deer season, none of which resulted in life-threatening injuries. Comparatively, during the 2022 gun deer season, the DNR reported eight firearm-involved hunting incidents. Of those incidents, four were self-inflicted gunshots.
With various hunting seasons continuing through December, the DNR reminds hunters to always follow and practice the four primary rules of firearm safety, otherwise known as TAB-K:
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.
More tips for safe hunting in Wisconsin are available on the DNR website.