Final 2011 deer harvest numbers and statewide deer population estimates are now available in Wisconsin, and the Department of Natural Resources is asking hunters and other interested citizens to attend one of many deer forums in the state to provide comments as the department begins developing recommendations for 2012.

Hunters registered a total of 347,711 white-tailed deer in all combined deer hunting seasons in 2011, including 257,511 harvested in all gun seasons, and 90,200 harvested in the archery season.

The recently finalized harvest numbers are being shared with the public at the deer hunter forums, which continue through the end of March.

“Last year’s harvest numbers are just one piece of information that hunters provide every fall when they register a deer, and the information is used to help estimate the size of the deer population on a unit by unit basis. This information, along with the input provided by the public all help to shape the season framework proposal, and quotas, that we’ll propose to the Natural Resources Board in late April,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR Big Game Ecologist.

In addition to department staff being on hand to answer questions and provide information on the deer herd, the focus of these forums is to seek input from hunters and those interested in deer.

“All comments will be taken into consideration when we make decisions about the upcoming season. It is important for deer hunters to understand that population estimates are just one of the factors that go into the annual decision making process for establishing the upcoming season. Another important factor is input from the public. You can provide your observations and input at one of our remaining Deer Hunter Forums,” added Wallenfang.

The harvest totals for 2011 are available on the Department of Natural Resources website and can be found by searching the keyword “deer harvest.” Harvest figures are broken down by buck or antlerless deer in each of 136 deer management units and county by deer season type.

Anyone who missed a forum in their area, still has an opportunity to participate by using the new on-line survey. Go to the DNR website and type in keywords “deer hunter forum.” In its first week of use, more than 2,000 people reviewed information about their favorite deer management unit, filled out the survey, and provided written comments.

“We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on the survey option and the efforts we’ve undertaken to get the word out on the forums and the survey,” stated Wallenfang. “I want to encourage everyone interested in deer to attend a deer hunter forum to give their perspective on the 2011 season, or please fill out the survey. Our goal is to make the fall seasons enjoyable for hunters while at the same time addressing all the other factors that make deer management so challenging in Wisconsin.”

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