Wisconsin hunting license sales down before deer opener

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 4:33 PM CST
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SUPERIOR, WI. (Northern News Now) - Wisconsin hunting license sales have been on a steady decline for the last decade and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is expecting another 1-2% drop this year.

Despite the decline, around 100,000 licenses are expected to be sold throughout the state on the Friday before the opener but they can be purchased throughout the entire season.

The nine-day firearms season begins Saturday, Nov. 18, and goes through Sunday, Nov. 26. The owner of Superior Shooting Supplies Pat Kukull said the hunters she has spoken to are excited and preparing.

“What they have to do next, then they have to get the food, they have to get their animals, and who they’re going to meet, and when they have to be there,” said Kukull. “It is really a holiday.”

With a continuous decline in license sales, the state’s unofficial holiday relies on younger generations to carry on the traditions.

“It’s always good to see younger people,” said Kukull. “We get a lot of them. It’s a huge tradition of father and daughter, father and son, of the whole family.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Northwest Wisconsin is typically a very successful hunting region, but hunters may not have the same fortune this year.

“The Duluth-Superior area did experience a real severe winter last year,” said Jeff Pritzl, the Wisconsin DNR State Deer Program Specialist. “When we have a winter like we did last year, historically, we see about a 25% decline in the following year’s harvest and that’s exactly what’s happening this year.”

Kukull, who is a hunter herself, said she does not measure the success of the season on the harvest.

“It’s a tradition with myself and my husband and our son, too,” said Kukull. “It’s just nice being together. It’s nice being out in the woods. Harvesting the deer, that’s a bonus.”

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