WI DNR reports large number of hunting licenses sold ahead of gun deer season

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- New numbers from the Wisconsin DNR show that the hunting tradition is alive and well ahead of this year’s nine-day gun deer season. That's according to the number of hunting licenses sold so far this year.

A Whitetail deer.

The DNR says that as of Nov. 17, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 538,643 - compared to 539,137 in 2018. That’s a difference of just under 500 licenses.

The DNR says two areas have already surpassed last year's sales totals for the entire season:

• Individual crossbow license sales are up 10 percent compared to last year's season total.
• The number of licenses purchased for young children also remains high: In 2018, 2,257 children under the age of nine held a license, compared to 3,648 so far in 2019.

Deer hunting season in Wisconsin is estimated to be about a $2 billion business.

The season officially kicks off this Saturday, and runs through Dec. 1.

"This week a lot of people will buy their hunting license. It's part of the whole culture, the tradition of going to deer camp and buying your license on the way. So if things are normal Friday we'll probably spend about 100,000 licenses just on Friday alone," says WI DNR Big Game Ecologist Kevin Wallenfang.

"It's a real big part of the Wisconsin culture, and it's a real big part of our economy - at least for a short period of the year," Wallenfang says.

According to DNR Director of Customer and Outreach Services, Kimberly Currie, in a release:

"License sales are brisk. We are happy to see customers buying their licenses early and not waiting for the last minute. DNR staff, private agents and our Go Wild system are prepared for a busy week as we expect sales traffic to increase each day as hunters prepare for the opener on Saturday.”

The DNR plans to release preliminary sales totals for the opening weekend on Nov. 26.