Getting a count on the gun-deer hunt - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Getting a count on the gun-deer hunt

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(WAOW) -- Year after year, hunters bring home big bucks. But DNR wildlife biologists said getting an accurate head count on the deer roaming the woods can be hard.

Hunters can help harness the herd by keeping the DNR in the loop.

"We can't go out and physically count each deer so we have to use an equation to come up with an estimate of how many deer may be out there," said DNR wildlife biologist Cortney Schaefer.

"We've seen a lot of deer all summer and throughout the fall," said Bryan Albrecht, who live in Racine. "We were out early this week and saw more deer. Of course, if you drive at night, you see them all the time so hopefully they'll come out for us during the day this weekend."

By day or by night, brave bucks and does can find a number of hiding spots. That makes it even more difficult to get a good count.

"Certain private properties might become refuges because folks aren't hunting in those areas and that's a nationwide problem," said Schaefer.

Even though DNR experts do all they can, some said they're still not close enough.

"In the past, the numbers have been overestimated so there were more tags given out for does than they needed to have and that's brought them down," said Dan Schneider, who live in Tomahawk.

"It's starting to come back," said Sig Watte, who lives in Tomahawk. "Last year and the year before was tough but it's coming back this year."

Biologists said there might be close to 15,000 deer now -- just in the Marathon County area. Some of the biggest harvests in recent years have been in Marathon, Clark and Shawano counties. But there's more to figuring out the numbers than just a good hunt.

The DNR also considers weather, hunter effort and how much the deer move around. Regardless of what they find, hunters said they're excited to get out and enjoy the season.

"We've got a nice group coming up, a lot of our cousins and relatives will be here," said Albrecht. "It's Christen's very first camp so we're excited to show her all the traditions of deer hunting."

The DNR is working on a new project. They've put collars on some of the deer to track mortality rates. You should treat those deer like any other, but then send back the collar to the address on it.

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