Weather to blame for decrease in deer kills

DODGEVILLE, Wis (WMTV) -- Today marks the last day of gun deer season and hunting experts are citing a decrease from last year.

Hunting experts said the 27 percent decrease in deer kill was expected

"Last year we saw the earliest season structure that a 9-day season could have and this time we saw the latest." Eric Canania, Southern District Deer Biologist said.

A Dodgeville store owner said that smaller harvest also means fewer customers and now they're struggling to make a buck.

“The season has been slower than other seasons, that's for sure,” Katie Mosley, Kate's Bait and Sporting Goods Owner said.

The last day of gun deer season is usually one of Mosley’s busiest times of the year, but this year it's her slowest.

"I don't know if people are giving up hunting because of the weather, or they're just not seeing the deer," she said.

Katie also samples deer for CWD for the DNR. She said typically people come in dozens at the end of the 9-day season to see if their deer is safe to harvest. Today only a handful of customers walked in her shop.

Canania said the primary factor in the amount of deer kills is timing.

"Last year we had early season so a lot of hunters saw running activity which is great. We also had prime weather conditions," Canania said.

He explained less snow means it's easier for deer to blend in and hide from hunters. The amount of crops standing in fields from wet weather also gives deer an extra hiding spot, which reduces a hunter’s chance of harvesting deer.

Canania keeps a close eye on the deer testing results for chronic wasting disease. He said the number of samples that come back positive may be on the rise.

"This disease is 100 percent fatal and anything that causes mortality in the animals we want to know about. We want to factor into our population models and understand how our deer herd is going for recruitment for the next year," he said.

Katie said today was a day of uncertainty and she hopes next year business is more promising.

"Everybody wants to be busy so it's a little discouraging it's not as busy as some years," Mosley said.

Muzzleloader hunting season begins Dec. 2 and ends Dec. 11.