Wild Things: Early Bow, Crossbow Whitetail Harvest Up Significantly

A booming deer herd in farm country, decent autumn weather and more hunters afield have all led to a significant increase in the early whitetail harvest, both statewide and locally. Through the first month of the 2020 seasons, Wisconsin hunters have registered more than 35,000 deer: roughly a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2019.

Last year’s sub-par gun deer harvest, combined with a mostly mild winter that allowed greater survival and a very large fawn crop, appear to be driving the increase, but more crossbow use and hunting licenses purchased this fall may also be factors. 

The reported crossbow harvest of 15,658 (6,895 bucks) through Oct. 13 was up more than 5,000, while the bow take of 12,229 (4,444 bucks) was up about 2,800. The reported youth gun hunt weekend deer kill of 7,313 (3,268) was nearly 600 higher than in 2019. 

Locally, the Oct. 13 count showed 472 total deer tagged in Door County and 390 in Kewaunee County. The Door County harvest included 222 with crossbow (84 bucks), 130 with bow (41) and 120 (41) during the youth gun hunt. The Kewaunee County numbers were 174 (64 bucks) with crossbow, 110 (25) with bow and 106 (50) during the youth hunt. The Kewaunee County numbers were up about 44 percent over last year’s first-month totals, and Door’s were up about 26 percent.

Hunters who’d like to help reduce local deer numbers but don’t want so much venison may donate – at no charge – whole whitetail carcasses to the state’s food pantry program.

Hunters must field-dress and register the deer prior to dropping it off at a participating processor. It’s best to call first to make sure the processor is taking animals that day.

Local options include Haberli’s Deer Processing near Sturgeon Bay (920.743.5736), Marchant’s Foods in Brussels (920.825.1244), They’s Venison Processing near Casco (920.609.0309) and Paul’s Pantry in Green Bay (920.433.0343).

Salmon Egg-Take Solid

Despite low water, the Root River at Racine has been the state’s top producer of Chinook salmon eggs for hatchery use this fall. Through Oct. 15, more than 2,800 king salmon were seen during six processing days at the DNR facility there. 

Of those, more than 600 females were spawned, producing an estimate of more than 2.25 million eggs. Compare that to an estimate of about 1 million eggs taken from 181 females at the Besadny facility on the Kewaunee River, where only 643 Chinooks were processed in four days between Oct. 2 and 13.

Hundreds of coho salmon were showing up at both sites, and the first coho egg-takes were expected this week. Even though chinooks were still showing up, egg-take for that species has been completed for 2020.

See the Forest – and the Trees

It’s Forest Products Week in Wisconsin: a chance to recognize the people who work in and care for forests, the businesses that create forest products and the ways in which those products contribute to our lives. Forestry provides more than 60,000 jobs in Wisconsin, and it’s the top employer in seven counties. Forest products contribute more than $24.4 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Speaking of forests, Wisconsin DNR nurseries are offering a wide variety of tree and shrub species to order now for spring planting. Learn more at

Lastly, the newly launched Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives website ( is an excellent source of information about the health benefits of trees. 

Fall Back Nov. 1 at 2 am

Daylight saving time ends at 2 am on Sunday, Nov. 1, giving you an extra hour’s Halloween sleep overnight. Dawn and dusk come an hour earlier than on Oct. 31, so plan accordingly if you’re planning any sunrise or sunset adventures. 

You can find a list of legal shooting hours by zone (Door County is in the northern zone; Kewaunee County in the southern) in the new 2020-21 hunting regulations pamphlet, on the DNR’s GoWild app or online at

Meanwhile, October’s second full or “blue” moon will rise around 6 pm on Oct. 31. November’s full moon rises just before 4:30 pm on Nov. 30.

ATA Show Canceled

With no end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight, the Archery Trade Association’s (ATA) board of directors has made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person 2021 ATA Trade Show, planned for Jan. 7-9 in Indianapolis, and it’s looking into some type of virtual offering instead.

Meanwhile, the National Shooting Sports Foundation says it plans to proceed with its Jan. 19-22 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, but the foundation’s website also notes that the group is actively monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and will share show updates in a timely manner.

Weekly Water Levels

As of Oct. 16, Lake Michigan was down four inches during the past month and is expected to drop another four to five inches by mid-November. Lake levels were 10 inches below the month’s all-time high, set in 1986, and 61 inches above the record low, set in 1964.